"I just wish I was doing something more important with my life."
No, that's not something our ex said. That's the very first thing Prince Charming says in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, now performing at the Adrienne Arsht Center.
Quite obviously, this is not the Disney princess story of memory. It's not like the original bloody Brothers Grimm fairy tale, either. In fact, it's a completely modern retelling that brings a fairy godmother's fanciful magic to life while simultaneously teaching that you don't need a fairy godmother to change the world.
There may never have been a version of Cinderella more suited for the minds of little girls. Rodgers and Hammerstein let us know magic is in the heart of the dreamer and the actions of the do-er. Wishes are nice, and this Cinderella certainly has hers met, but it's because of her kind and giving nature that she is rewarded. Ella's fairy godmother, portrayed with great presence by Kecia Lewis, takes pains to let the young woman know it's her own self-empowerment that will get her what she wants in life.
Paige Faure, Beth Glover, Ashley Park and Aymee Garcia.
Photo by Carol Rosegg
The fun-loving musical also addresses some political undertones. Prince Topher, made quite relatable and funny by Andy Jones, grapples with his royal duties and his sense of self. He must emerge from the shadows of Blake Hammond, who plays the overbearing advisor Sebastian so well the audience might just hate him. Paige Faure is adorable as Ella, who helps her charming Prince realize his self-worth while coming to terms with her own.
Pretty much nothing about the Broadway musical is "traditional." With a kindly stepsister in Ashley Park's Gabrielle, and a completely fabricated politically-active revolutionary in David Andino's Jean-Michel, audience members are in for a revamp that's as socially-conscious as it is heart-warming.
Adrian Arrieta, Paige Faure and Blakely Slaybaugh.
Photo by Carol Rosegg
Still, it packs a great laugh, whimsical musicality, and a whole lot of magic. We've never quite seen such beautiful stage craft and costuming, and we're still scratching our heads trying to figure just how they made those unbelievable transformations work so well. None of the musical numbers are so catchy that we walked away singing them all night, but they are wonderful in the moment just the same.
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All in all, Cinderella has all the wow-factor you want with the added bonus of intelligence, feminism, and down-right healthy morals. It's not the Disney story, but it's perhaps even better suited for the little ones and us older folk because of it. Go and see Cinderella if you believe the impossible is possible, and do it in the name of every little girl who ever wanted to change the world around her.
Follow Kat Bein on Twitter @KatSaysKill.