A Bad Cinderella rant (spoilers galore)
Posted by: Likeitlots 01:12 pm EDT 03/15/23

How is it that when musicals cost what they do (to producers AND audience) we live in a world where the creatives seemingly shrug their shoulders and say “good enough” when a book makes ZERO SENSE?

How is it possible for Bad Cinderella to be quite this bad… just on the merits (or lack thereof) of book alone?

For starters, our heroine is “bad” we are told because…. Why? She wears boots and spray painted a statue? That’s it?

We are TOLD that she is a maid, but she seems to spend all of her time out of the house or, while in it, sparring with the stepmother. She doesn’t seem to do much by way of actual housework.

We are also told by the way, that she is plain and without makeup. She is neither. She is merely Latina. And Sebastian the outcast prince is Black. So both of our misfit heroes are people of color and while there is a story wherein that could be the reason they are outcasts, that’s not this story.

The two of them, we are TOLD are childhood friends. How did THAT happen? What makes them friends? They both have disinterest in the things the rest of the characters value, but do they share any values? Art? Music? Books? Animals? Nature? Crochet? Nah. Too much effort to give them actual character traits or anything to their relationship that we might actually root for.

The queen wants a wedding immediately. Why? She is not about to die. The townsfolk seem totally happy. There is not a rebellion brewing, the men aren’t itching to war, the people don’t have a lack of respect for her gender so…. Why? At least in the Disney version, the king was driven by an irrational need of grand kids.

The stepmother and queen have a showdown (oooh, a spark of life in these proceedings) that goes… nowhere. We are told that they both have shady pasts, the specifics of which are too much trouble to explain. How did they get beyond those pasts (marriage, obviously, but how?) What would happen if those pasts were revealed? It matters to the queen for Act 1, but then, magically, in Act 2, she no longer cares. She pulls rank. That didn’t occur to her until the second act? (in fairness, the past of the stepmother seems to be the root of her motivation, but unlike Cate Blanchett’s stepmother in the Disney Live-action, who sees her daughters’ marriage as her only means of survival, this stepmother wants power. What does she want to do with that power? What wrong is she trying to right? Who knows).

Cinderella decides suddenly that she DOES want to be beautiful. The Godmother is a plastic surgeon who dresses like a drag queen. She wants Cinderella’s mother’s necklace. Why? Who knows. But Cinderella doesn’t fight very hard to keep it and the Godmother gives it away pretty damned easily for an item she seems to have wanted.

The ball happens. Midnight and the removal of shoes are shoe-horned in (sorry) but there are no real consequences to Cinderella.

Sebastian apologizes to Cinderella bur she’ll have none of it because she is just too hurt at not being recognized when she made herself unrecognizable. She needs to be unforgiving of the person we are told she loves because, you see, otherwise we’re out of story.

Prince Charming has been in hiding because he is gay. But he returns with no fears that his coming out will be bad for him (and he’s right). So if being gay isn’t a problem, why was he hiding? The fact that it isn’t a problem, either for the characters or the audience is lovely, but must it be diminished by naming the boyfriend the Duc du Violette????

Marie, who we have been told is an idiot, manages to come up with an important realization/ plot point: “I guess she heard the wedding bells and thought you were married.” Huh? Where’d she come up with that? Did she read the script?

Sebastian and Cinderella reunite but, as these things go, it takes a good long time for him to announce that he isn’t married.


Now add the fact that the costumes are hideous, the music redundant, the lead can’t act (although the script doesn’t help her any), and the large cast is asked to belt the majority of the music at top volume as if they are all American Idol contestants. On the plus side, the sets have whimsy, the cast is working hard and are polished, the orchestra is lush, and the great Carolee Carmello and Grace McClean are camping it up to good effect. But one is left to ponder—how did this happen? Maybe ALW has too much power and too little taste and no one wants to tell him, “No, this isn’t ready yet.” But that’s pure supposition. As always with a big creative belly-flop, It’s hard to fathom how so much effort can go into something that goes so far awry.

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