Broadway’s Cinderella: A Feminists Wet Dream

Cinderella

For my 30th birthday I decided to go to a Broadway show. Living in NYC has its perks, and I’ve always considered one of them to be Broadway. Now, Cinderella has been open for a while, but when I saw that it was the Rogers & Hammerstein version I knew I just had to see it. There is a 1965 television version, starring Leslie Ann Warren, which happens to be my favorite and what I refer back to when thinking of the Rogers & Hammerstein version of Cinderella. Yes, Brandy also starred in a 1997 version, but it wasn’t 100% Rogers & Hammerstein. Although I could argue that it came closer than the Broadway version, just on storyline alone!

Let me explain: For starters there is, and I hope you’ll agree with me, one aspect of the story of Cinderella that you just CANNOT change, otherwise it isn’t the story of Cinderella. That part I’m referring to is what you see clearly displayed on the cover of the Playbill above. The glass slipper is what separates this “princess movie” from the countless others. And it’s not just that she is wearing glass slippers, but that one of them falls off her foot as she is running away from the Ball (down the grand staircase) as the clock strikes midnight. It’s the glass slipper that helps the Prince find her. Pretty big part of the telling of the story of Cinderella correct?

There are other big parts that should not be tampered with:

1. The “wicked” stepmother and 2 stepsisters.

2. Cinderella in her own little corner, getting ashes cause it happens to be by the fire

3. The King and Queen, parents of the Prince, are ALIVE!

4. The Ball to find the Prince a wife

5. Last but not least, the fairy godmother, who does all that fancy magic for Cinderella

Now, having listed all that makes Cinderella a story that every little girl knows, practically by heart, and every grown woman, long to relive, why oh why would Broadway DARE to ruin even one aspect of it?! Are we really to be subjected to their political messages in everything that we used to call “entertainment”? Well, I was NOT entertained at all. The songs were all Rogers & Hammerstein but because the story was so convoluted to fit some preconceived notion about women-power, the music was unimpressive, in my estimation.

I had a bad feeling it was going to be a terrible show when not 10 minutes in were we told that the Prince’s parents were dead and he was being looked after by some “adviser” who took it upon himself to put the prince in boarding school till he was old enough to finally “rule” although that is a loose definition since Sebastian (the adviser) thinks it best if the Prince just let him worry about ruling the kingdom while he sit back and do nothing. Hmm…what?!

Okay, next up, there is some new character named Jean Michele who at first I thought was a bit too “flamboyant” for me so I was afraid they added a gay character to appease the LGBT crowd for this month (June cause it’s Pride month and all) but he wasn’t. No, he was put in as a revolutionary who’s trying to get the kingdom to revolt against the nobility who have taken possession of the poor peoples land without their consent! Hmm…what?!

Let’s move on! Now, Jean Michele is in love with one of the stepsisters, the tall awkward one, who is also in love with him. The wicked stepmother (played by Fran Drescher, who got to do her signature laugh several times during the show, and luckily only really sang once) won’t allow that budding romance to happen because she wants her daughters to marry into nobility. And how does the iconic song, “The Prince is Giving a Ball” come about if his parents are dead? They are originally the ones who come up with the idea because their son is bored with life. Well, the adviser decides to give one because things like that always serve as a distraction to the poor so they won’t start a revolution! Sounding more and more like the story of Cinderella I know…

So to recap, the rich upper class are stealing the land and money from the lower class, while the lower class are doing nothing about it. And the head of the kingdom says that waving something shiny and new in front of the lower class, like say, having a fancy Ball, will distract them long enough to forget their troubles. There’s a brief moment where the adviser visits the stepmother to tell her that he wants her daughter (the tall one who’s in love with Jean Michele) to marry the Prince and has some plot to make it happen. Yeah right…

Now, I’m going to jump ahead cause going back over it in my mind is only going to make me really angry again. But the fairy godmother shows up. She turns out to be the crazy beggar woman of the village. Cinderella goes to the Ball. She meets the prince. They dance. The clock strikes midnight. Cinderella runs away. Her glass slipper comes off her foot. She turns back, sees it on the ground. As does the Prince. She runs back for it. Picks it up. Looks right at him. Then runs off with it. WHAT?! Let me repeat that for those who might have missed it: SHE PICKS BACK UP THE GLASS SLIPPER AND RUNS AWAY!

By this point I’m REALLY angry. What is that about? That is not the story of Cinderella. How is he supposed to find her? What is going on here? Skipping ahead some more. The Prince decides if he throws a Banquet that the mystery woman (ie Cinderella) will come back and he will finally discover who she is and her name. A Banquet?! A BANQUET?! What the hell crap is this?

Skipping ahead again. The fairy godmother makes her all fancy again and Cinderella goes to the banquet. Magic only lasts till midnight. The clock strikes and she runs off. But he doesn’t know her name and how is he to find her?! She stops at the bottom of the grand stair case. Makes a face to the audience like she has an idea. Take off one of the glass slippers and places it, herself, on the bottom step for the Prince to have. He picks it up. Looks at it and her running off, then at the audience, not knowing what to do with it. Then the light bulb goes off in his head and he says “ah ha!” then runs off in the opposite direction!

I hope feminists are satisfied. The glass slipper being left behind is now a choice Cinderella made because she is not some flousy waiting to be found by a rich prince. She chose him and now is allowing him to find her. How quaint. How lovely. This version just really melted my heart. NOT! It sucked!

I won’t even bother to tell you how it ended because it did NOT get any better. Especially considering they added the Whitney Houston song from the 1997 version of Cinderella, thereby making this not exactly the Rogers & Hammerstein version. It was also put in a really awkward place in the show.

The only shining actor and song was the announcement for the Ball.

Oh, and if you want yet one last reason why this was just a mess from beginning to end, the Princes name, or at least one of them, is Christopher. Well, in the show they decided to call him by the shortened version of Christopher. No, not Chris! Silly! Topher! God help us all!

And now, please enjoy this clip from MY favorite Cinderella, with two of my all time favorite actresses, Celeste Holm as the fairy godmother and Leslie Ann Warren as Cinderella.

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Categorised in: Entertainment, Feminism

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