Little girls dream of dressing in gowns and looking like a princess, and, as they get a little older, of charming princes who can whisk them off to a castle.
The fantasy in “Rodger’s + Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” in an open run at the Broadway Theatre, is about transformation and aspiration.
Poor Cinderella (Laura Osnes) leads a terrible life, toiling at thankless tasks for her thankless stepmother, Madame (Harriet Harris) and ne’er-do-well stepsister Charlotte (Ann Harada) and the nicer Gabrielle (Marla Mindelle.) She dreams of escape, “In My Own Little Corner,” and goes back to work mending and cleaning.
|Laura Osnes as Cinderella and female ensemble. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
Douglas Carter Beane sees in Cinderella both the hopes for betterment and the determination to make a better world in his script adaptation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein original TV production. His take is perhaps just a little too up-to-the-minute. Or maybe, it contributes to making “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” so much more than a made for TV version of a timeless fairytale, even if that 1957 live broadcast featured Julie Andrews in the heyday of television. There is a shiny sort of do-good, feel-good quality to Beane’s rescripting, and to the lyrics he and David Chase have added to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s original.
|Santino Fontana as Prince Topher and Laura Osnes as Cinderella at the ball. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
Laura Osnes, whose ascent to Broadway was as the winner in a TV contest for her role in “Grease,” has proven to be the quintessential stage actor. She is also more than a made for TV star. Since being “discovered,” she’s done yeomen’s work in the much-maligned “Bonnie and Clyde,” subbed seamlessly for Kelli O’Hare as Nellie Forbush in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific,” played Hope Harcourt in “Anything Goes.” She’s performed at Carnegie Hall and in concerts at 54 Below. In short, Laura Osnes is a genuine Broadway actor.
Cinderella’s desires and dreams resonate as they always have. She’s just a little pluckier and gutsier than you might remember her. Her Prince Topher (Santino Fontana) is a little more evolved and sensitive, too.
Santino Fontana is delicious as Prince Topher. Ann Harada gets to sing one of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s most wonderful anthems, “The Stepsister’s Lament” with a touch of irony and innocence. Marla Mindelle as the stepsister who falls in love with a rabble-rousing poor boy, Jean-Michel (Greg Hildreth) is endearing, as is Greg Hildreth, in an endearing subplot. Victoria Clark makes a sweet Fairy Godmother, Marie although she looks a bit uncomfortable during her stint in the air.
What would Cinderella’s trip to the ball be without exquisite costumes? We don’t have to imagine anything so dire, since William Ivey Long gives us glamourous gowns worthy of a fairytale and happy endings. Anna Louizos’s sets are also gorgeous and imaginatively rendered. Paul Huntley’s headdresses are extravagant enough to make hair and wigs a character. Mark Brokaw ‘s direction keeps “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” moving at a lively pace.
“Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” will make your wish for a captivating evening come true.
Sweet dreams. (Visit VP for more on “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella.”)
For more information about “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” please visit http://www.cinderellaonbroadway.com/