Do not dismiss the new gorgeous Broadway production of Rodgers & Hammerstein's “Cinderella”as a children's show; although there will be children of a certain age who will love it, this musical is not for toddlers. It is full of the irony and wit of Douglas Carter Beane, who supplied the New Book, based on Oscar Hammerstein's original Book. This show was written for television, debuting in 1957, it starred Julie Andrews; it has traveled throughout the country, but it has never been performed on Broadway.
This production, directed with marvelous pace by Mark Brokaw, has so many glorious strengths; it is hard to know where to start. Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana are perfect; Ella, gracefully pretty and Prince Topher, handsome and modest. Her voice, a silvery lyric soprano; his voice, a clear, pleasant tenor, blend like the two sparkly glass slippers she wears to the ball. The cast is superior. Among the many parts: South African Phumzile Sojola brings a strong but sweet voice as Lord Pinkerton, Victoria Clark soars high as Fairy Godmother Marie and Harriet Harris defines her character brilliantly, this time as Madame, the mean stepmother. The costumes by the dean of costumers, William Ivey Long, are spectacular, highlighted by dazzling colors, construction and wizardry. Scenic Design by Anna Louizos, magically lit by Kenneth Posner, is especially effective with moving trees as lynchpins and a very large moon hanging over the stage.
But it is the Choreography by Josh Rhodes that blew us away and brought us to tears of joy. Combining ballet and acrobatics in a delicate balance, the entire cast was involved in lifts that lifted our spirits. The dancing underscores the romance of the piece. While Douglas Carter Beane's script deals with social issues, it is still funny, never turning too didactic.
Last, but not least, Rodgers' always melodious music is perhaps not as strong as in shows like “The King and I” and “Carousel,” yet it is still lovely. In songs like “In My Own little Corner,” “Waltz for a Ball,” and “A Lovely Night,” Hammerstein's lyrics are literate and move the action along.
You must see Rodgers & Hammerstein's “Cinderella”at the Broadway Theatre on West 53rd St.