There’s a ball, a banquet, a bachelor looking for a friend, a newly empowered Ella, a flying fairy godmother, Venetian glass slippers, dancing trees, a fox, a raccoon, an election, a wedding and of course a happily ever after ending in this magical makeover of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s originally made for television special CINDERELLA.
There has been a refreshing major magic wand at work here in this newly revamped, sweet and lovely and funny Broadway production appearing at the massive Broadway Theatre with a new book by master humorist Douglas Carter Beane and the vintage, very tuneful score by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. There is a lot to be said for reprising a memorable melody so many times that one actually leaves the theatre humming a tune.
There’s a bit of “Into the Woods”, “Shrek”, “Spamalot”, Sleeping Beauty (the Ballet), “The Bachelor” and “Once Upon a Mattress” as niftily directed by Mark Brokaw and choreographed by Josh Rhodes resulting in a brand new up to the minute interpretation of this age old story that is now an enchanting musical for all ages.
The lovely Laura Osnes is the optimistic and kind lass with dreams of a better life and Kingdom and some newfound sass who puts up with her harridan of a stepmother (Harriet Harris) and her step-sisters Charlotte (Ann Harada) and the nicer of the two Gabrielle (Marla Mindelle) who has her sights on the rebellious firebrand Jean-Michel (Greg Hildreth) joining forces to open a soup kitchen for the poor.
Ms. Osnes looks and sings beautifully and goes from rags to riches literally in seconds before our eyes – twice – thanks to the gorgeous and inventive costumes of William Ivey Long who has outdone himself in this his 65th design for the Broadway stage.
He, along with Anna Louizos who has supplied the elaborate storybook sets with the aforementioned traveling trees, make CINDERELLA a wonder to behold.
As Topher – short for Christopher – Santino Fontana as the Prince under the droll and sarcastic thumb of Sebastian (Peter Bartlett) has carved himself a new category of actor – character leading man – and has done so with flying colors – giving this Prince equal weight with that of his co-star Laura Osnes. At times goofy and sincere he has a strong singing voice, finally finding his way in life and standing tall. They make captivating modern day partners.
CINDERELLA wouldn’t be CINDERELLA without a fairy godmother and the wonderful Victoria Clark imbues her character with a soaring voice and a quick and quirky humor instilling in Ella the belief that she can be all that she wants to be while being kind, a very good thing to liberate and empower little girls. And boys.
This CINDERELLA is a sure fire crowd pleaser.
www.cinderellaonbroadway.com Photos: Carol Rosegg
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