When Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, which first appeared as just plain Cinderella in a much loved television production starring the youthful Julie Andrews back in 1957, finally made it to Broadway this year, it received something of a mixed critical reception. Its book, revised by playwright Douglas Carter Beane, was bothersome to a number of critics. Cinderella had become Ella and a political edge had been added. There is a little too much ‘schtick.’ But if the critics were ambivalent about the book, most were not unhappy with the music and its performance.
Certainly they recognized that Cinderella’s score was not Rodgers and Hammerstein at the very top of their game, but Rodgers and Hammerstein light is still pretty darn good. Besides, there were excellent performances from Laura Osnes, winner of the Sandy sweepstakes on the TV talent search Grease: You’re The One That I Want!, as Ella and Victoria Clark as the Fairy Godmother. And if Santino Fontana’s prince came off as a mite goofy, his singing was fine.
So the original Broadway cast album, now available from Ghostlight Records, will come as a welcome addition to most musical comedy libraries, as well as the armies of little princesses. The music, like the book, has been revamped for this production. It keeps the best of the ’57 show, includes material from the 1997 TV production which starred Brandy, and adds songs cut from other Rodgers and Hammerstein shows. Songs like “In My Own Little Corner” and “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful?” are perhaps the show’s most impressive and they are work today as well as they ever did.
“The Prince is Giving a Ball” is an effective ensemble number and the “Stepsister’s Lament,” which begins the second act, is a comic gem for Ann Harada. “There’s Music in You,” taken from the Brandy version, is an elegant ballad. It offers a star turn for Osnes, and she takes full advantage. “Ten Minutes Ago” is a sweet duet for Ella and the Prince.
The album comes with a multi-page booklet of liner notes which includes a short essay on the history of Cinderella by Ted Chapin, a synopsis of the new book, and an excellent set of photos from the production.