Pinelands’ ‘Cinderella’ Not Your Grandfather’s ‘Cinderella’

But Lovely Rodgers and Hammerstein Songs Remain
Feb 27, 2018
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

The Pinelands Regional Thespians will be performing “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella” at 7 p.m. on March 1, 2, 3, 8 and 9 and at 1:30 and 7 p.m. on March 10 in the high school auditorium. Tickets are $10 for students and seniors and $12 for adults. They may be ordered online at If shows aren’t sold out, tickets may be purchased at the door, but that is sort of like playing Russian roulette considering the high level of community support for Pinelands theatrical productions.

Now, the show is “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” not merely “Cinderella.” That’s important to note.

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s original “Cinderella” was broadcast on CBS on March 31, 1957, starring Julie Andrews. Another TV version came out in 1965, again on CBS, with Lesley Ann Warren in the title role. A third version came out in 1997, broadcast on ABC, with Brandy playing Cinderella and leading a star-studded cast including Whitney Houston, Bernadette Peters, Whoopi Goldberg and Jason Alexander.

Minor changes were made in 1965, with some Rodgers and Hammerstein songs not found in the original added to the score; and even more changes in 1997, which featured a racially diverse cast. But “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” with a new book by Douglas Carter Beane, is a very different animal from the original.

Now, it proved modestly popular when it opened on Broadway in 2013, running for 41 previews and 770 regular performances. And, despite mixed reviews – some critics penned raves, saying it was a new “Cinderella” for new times, while others bemoaned the changes – it racked up nine Tony nominations although it won only one, for costume design. But it may be jarring for those who loved the original.

The Prince, Topher (Liam McGettigan), no longer has parents. Instead he is an orphan who has to deal with a rather devious regent figure, Sebastian (Anthony Scarpone). And – horrors to traditionalists! – he doesn’t spend the second act scouring the countryside for a girl who can fit into Cinderella’s lost glass slipper. “Ella” (Cara Waldron), as she is now known, has given it to him. Indeed, this Cinderella isn’t turned to Jell-O when she first meets the somewhat naïve Prince. Instead this politically conscious heroine, who knows of Sebastian’s schemes to repress and rob the people, speaks out and tells Topher, “You need to open your eyes to what’s happening in your kingdom.”

Don’t worry – much of the classic Cinderella tale remains. There’s still a fairy godmother, a rather crazy lady named Marie (Nadia Jewel Vito), as well as a stepmother, “Madame” (Liann Yu) and stepsisters, Charlotte (Elizabeth Yu) and Gabrielle (Amanda Delbury), a fox (Jayden Craft) and a raccoon (Hannah Rommel). True, there are new characters of Beane’s creation – a revolutionary named Jean-Michael (Gaten Matarazzo) and Lord Pinkleton (Ethan DiFrancia), a palace functionary. But the wonderful Rodgers and Hammerstein songs, such as “In My Own Little Corner” and “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful,” are still in place as well.

So all in all, it should prove an interesting evening or afternoon out. Traditionalists will love hearing the music; folks like me who have seen “Cinderella” numerous times and even performed in the show using a much older script will love seeing something new.

So, what’s not to love? —R.M.

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