The Forest for the Trees: Seeing Cinderella on Broadway with Kids

For those of us of a certain age, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella is a nostalgia trip. The memory of this musical, a television landmark in the '50's lingers as a singular pleasure. My fear in bringing young people, Noah (8) and Hannah (6), to a recent matinee was my losing composure and singing loudly along to "Impossible," "In My Own Little Corner," "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful?" Another concern: would it be as good for them as it was for me? To date, critics and awarders seem in thrall. Even though this is a Broadway debut, the musical has nine Tony nominations as well as nods for other major awards, as a musical revival.

Nominated for his book of a musical, Douglas Carter Beane tweaked the story we know and love. It now contains many surprises, including a social consciousness--imagine kindness as a political strategy-- and oh, that bling slipper purposely left behind. Children know the Disney animated version, and liked this show's witty variations. The tale opens in the woods with Prince Topher (Santino Fontana) slaying a tree-like monster. In declaring victory, he puts his foot on its trunk and exclaims, I have got to find a better way to spend my life, which had Noah howling, I love this play. His vocal critique may have been echoed in Hannah's eyes, glued as she watched Laura Osnes' Cinderella, a delicate voiced beauty who morphs magically from scullery maid to mysterious belle right before your eyes. Yes, the forest is enchanting, but attention must be paid to the trees.
Of course, divine intervention is key: Victoria Clark as the mad hag cum fairy godmother soars (literally). Noah murmured, look at the strings, not missing a trick. Inquisitive, he managed to get a lesson in drum construction while leaning into the orchestra pit during intermission. Hannah did not say much when asked which part she liked most, but after a time she admitted, it was their kiss.

A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.