Cinderella’s Beauty is Only Skin Deep by Ben Krueger, Student Critic
The story of Cinderella has been told countless times. It dates back to ancient Chinese folklore, circa 860 AD. In the old fables, the Godmother is portrayed by a bunch of fish bones. However, the current re-telling has not aged well, as can be seen in Roger and Hammerstein’s version of the famous story. Plot holes plague the show like potholes plague a road. The show itself is quite funny, and the actors did very well, but the removal of humor from the equation shows a bland show that frankly does little to impress.
The play makes up for the dry story with plenty of humor and wit. Much of this is political humor, which may be there to keep adults and adolescents from falling asleep in their chairs. One of my favorite moments is when they are discussing the prince as a politician; they seem bewildered at how he has “a heart, a mind, and a soul”. Some may feel that these jabs remove the audience from the play; rather it makes the characters more relatable and human, letting the audience transcend the darkness of modern day and make fun of it all. This allows the audience to relax and enjoy the play more in turn.
Past the enjoyable satire of Roger and Hammerstein’s play, the plot can be somewhat inconsistent. The plot is full of holes, like characters who hate each other seconds before breaking out in song. This can be seen in the song right after intermission, where the sisters, stepmother, and Cinderella start singing and the stepmom shows respect to Cinderella by singing along, despite declaring earlier that she has no love for her. And, at the end of the play, not only does the mother accept Cinderella’s forgiveness (despite being appalled at the very notion of kindness earlier), but the power hungry advisor of the prince seems perfectly fine with being virtually overthrown.
One of the best aspects of this rendition of the play is the effects, especially the lighting. From streaking through the canopy of a forest, to showing the passage of time, the play is a masterpiece of how to use effects. Music sets the tone perfectly, and the voices of the actors are some of the best I have heard. The one flaw with the music is that it is utterly forgettable, and some songs pad the runtime and break up the rhythm of the show.
The acting in this play is stellar, on par with that of Broadway. The actors and actresses go beyond their relatively confined roles and give each of them character beyond the script. Tatyana Lubov, who plays Cinderella, did an exceptional job for one of her first professional plays. Joanna Johnson perfectly captures the hilarity of a desperate Charlotte, who is constantly griping and making trivial remarks about the play. The singing is some of the best that I have heard, and, even if the music itself is not all that great, the cast more than makes up for the songs with their amazing voices. The choreography is a spectacle unto itself, with acrobatic knights fighting off a giant forest creature to lavish wedding-goers dancing gracefully across the stage.
The characters speak to one of the play’s major problems: a lack of depth. If one were to draw Cinderella or the stepmother on a sheet, it would reveal a less paper-thin character. The characters are one dimensional and are defined by one personality trait each. Cinderella is kind: this is shoved down the audience’s throat at the end of the show when other character’s praise her for her kindness and sympathy, as if the director wanted to make sure the audience came away absolutely knowing that Cinderella was kind. Contrary to this, there is one scene with a rather memorable exchange, where the prince’s advisor is trying to stop the prince from finding Cinderella, and says “Remember who you are talking to!” The prince turns and says “Remember who you are talking to.” This moment is one of my favorites in any play I have yet seen. With those four words, the prince seems to fill the stage with an unmistakably awes-inspiring presence. This is the prince the audience expected, the one who slays dragons and gargoyles without a sweat, giving the audience goosebumps with how impressive he is. However, the play fails to capitalize on this, and this stirring character of a strong and powerful prince disappears and is once again replaced by the meek and dull version of the prince for the rest of the play. This shows the main fault of the play, which is like a shallow stream: nice to look at, but there is very little real depth.