Just returned from a preview of “Cinderella” a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical written for TV in 1957 and done again in 1965. The first production starred Julie Andrews, the second Lesley Ann Warren.
This show has no special smoke and mirrors. There is a monster, there are some really cool special effects and the rest is all about the gorgeous music, the wonderful singing (all great), the lovely set and costumes and the performances, which are enchanting. I expect Ben Brantley, of the NY Times, to hate it. He generally likes things that are funky, disgusting, revolting, overdone or very strange and weird. The more traditional something is, the less he likes it, unless it has Kristen Chenoweth or Audra MacDonald in it, then he thinks it is great.
It was delightful to me to hear such wonderful music sung by such good vocalists. Yes, there is a bit more mix in both the young people than would probably have been there decades past, but it was a minor consideration. It’s nice to know that the kids who are being trained to sing in a traditional manner still have a shot (albeit a very small shot) at getting work on Broadway with a good legit sound. For all the rock shows, the pop shows and the many shows about technology (Spidey, Poppins, etc.) there is still no substitute for great music, singing, dancing, costumes and a silly enchanting fairy tale (with some spin on the book) to restore your faith in theater. This show, along with other staples, would work well with kids in a school setting, it would work well with a minimal budget, it would be possible to do with a community theater and anyone with a relatively decent voice could manage the vocal parts with the exception of the Fairy Godmother, who requires a good high legit voice. Even if it doesn’t last long on Broadway (and I hope it does), it will have a good life on the road and in small local productions.
I strongly believe that people respond to this kind of theater. It allows you to sit back and have a good time. If we are to keep the musical going strongly as an art form here in the USA, we need musicals like this to hold us up outside New York City. Not everyone can sing Rent, not everyone is going to be able to do Les Miz in a credible way. The shows that demand extreme singing or acting, exceptional dancing, or very odd and difficult sets may be OK for the Big Apple, but don’t transfer well to small stages and venues. This show won’t be hard to do in lots of ways with all kinds of people. How nice.
If you plan to come to NYC, please go. If you have kids, please take them. If you do music theater with students, this is a good show to see, especially if you have never seen one on Broadway. It shows what real theater is and should be, and gives anyone in the audience the opportunity to know what works and why. I see a lot of students singing music theater material who have no clue about how music theater works. I wonder if it is because their teachers have never been in a high level musical and just don’t know what it means to be there, on Broadway, singing 8 times a week.