Tickets for the Tony® Award-winning Broadway production of one of the most beautiful musicals of all time, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, will go on sale this week on Friday 30 April. The contemporary retelling of this beloved story will have its Australian Premiere in Sydney at the Capitol Theatre from 16 November.
Auditions for the 26-strong cast begin next week, and Opera Australia and The Gordon Frost Organisation have received almost 1500 submissions.
“We can’t wait to audition musical theatre performers to fill these classic roles. And we’re looking forward to announcing our Cinderella, Prince Charming, Fairy Godmother, Stepmother and Stepsisters and the full cast in due course,” said Producers John Frost and Lyndon Terracini. “This is one of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s greatest scores and this production with beautiful orchestrations, magnificent costumes and sets, jaw-dropping transformations and all the moments you love from the classic story, will have audiences clamoring for more.”
The Australian premiere has been secured exclusively for Sydney by the Government’s tourism and major events agency Destination NSW and will be a major drawcard for visitors to NSW.
Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney, Stuart Ayres said that securing the Australian premiere of Cinderella was a coup for Sydney and would drive economic benefit for NSW through job creation and visitor expenditure. “Securing world-class events such as Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella for Sydney adds magic and universal appeal to our events calendar while supporting key priorities of the Visitor Economy Strategy 2030.
“Musicals are a major contributor to the NSW visitor economy, and we look forward to welcoming over 20,000 visitors to Sydney to see this classical fairytale come to life on the stage and enjoy all that Sydney has to offer.”
With its fresh new take on the beloved tale of a young woman who is transformed from a chambermaid into a princess, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella combines the story’s classic elements – the glass slippers, pumpkin, a beautiful masked ball and more – along with some surprising twists. More than just a pretty face with the right shoe size, this Cinderella is a contemporary figure living in a fairytale setting. A spirited young woman with savvy and soul, she not only fights for her own dreams, but forces the prince to open his eyes to the world around him and realize his dreams too.
One of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s most popular titles, Cinderella was written for television, debuting in 1957 starring Julie Andrews, who was nominated for an Emmy Award for her performance. More than 100 million viewers saw the broadcast, more people than any other program in the history of television at the time. Cinderella was re-made for television in 1965 starring Lesley Ann Warren in the title role, Ginger Rogers and Walter Pidgeon as the King and Queen, and Celeste Holm as the Fairy Godmother. A further television remake followed in 1997 with Brandy as Cinderella, Whitney Houston as the Fairy Godmother, Bernadette Peters as the Stepmother, Whoopi Goldberg as the Queen and Jason Alexander as Lionel.
The stage version of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella made its long-awaitedBroadway debut in January 2013, featuring a new book by Douglas Carter Beane and direction by Mark Brokaw, and it ran for two years. Mr Beane’s book blends masterfully with the musical’s cherished score, with songs including In My Own Little Corner, Impossible/It’s Possible, Ten Minutes Ago and Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful?
Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella is a romantic and exciting experience for anyone who’s ever had a dream. Tickets will go on sale on 30 April.
View the trailer for Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella here
Venue Capitol Theatre, Campbell Street, Haymarket
Season From 16 November 2021
Performance Times Tues 7pm (16 Nov only), Wed-Sat 7.30pm, Wed 1pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 1pm & 6pm
Prices: From $69.90 (Transaction fees apply)
Bookings: ticketmaster.com.au or 136 100
Media enquiries, please contact:
Ian Phipps, IP Publicity at email@example.com or 0419 977 694
Q&A with Rodgers + Hammerstein’s President Ted Chapin
Q – So there have been stage versions of Cinderella – R+H licenses a stage version – but this is the first time it has been on Broadway. It was originally a TV show.
TC – Right. I think what is fascinating about Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella is that it was written as a commission for CBS in 1957. It was announced in September of ’56 and was on the air at the end of March in ’57, so the whole thing was written in a scant few months. And it was a big hit at the time. Julie Andrews did it on her vacation from My Fair Lady. What I think turned out to be more extraordinary than people were aware of at the time is that Rodgers and Hammerstein tapped into a timelessness in their score that has made people revisit it time and time again – it’s been remade twice for television; it’s been done in the theater in various ways.
But yes, this is the first time it’s been done on Broadway, because of [Broadway producer] Robyn Goodman. It started with a conversation that the two of us had. She said if we can figure out a way to do it and have it make sense for a modern Broadway audience, what Rodgers and Hammerstein contribute is something that is rarely heard these days. It’s a style of singing, a style of emotion that audiences are still in favor of – I wouldn’t have a job if they weren’t – but it’s not necessarily the norm on Broadway these days.
There’s a funny article in Variety, three days after the TV show aired, where they said Rodgers and Hammerstein were going to put it on Broadway, probably in the spring of 1958! But, you know, when you wait this long – not for any particular reason – and you find that what Rodgers and Hammerstein brought to the party is as valid today as it was in 1957, that’s the core of making a really good Broadway show.
Q – Were there a lot of changes during previews?
TC – When this production of Cinderella started previews, everything was there. There was just too much of everything! And that’s, in a way, the best place to be when you start previews, because it’s about editing. It’s about redoing scenes; a couple of scenes were discarded, a new scene was put in its place. A couple of songs were put back in the trunk. But I was very impressed with how the team was editing and honing, sharpening jokes; doing what you’re supposed to do in previews, and a lot of times other stuff gets in the way.
Q – It’s amazing how, when I just mention it to people, they start singing “Do I Love You?” And I guess, you know, for the parents who are bringing their children, they remember whatever version they saw on TV.
TC – It seems like this production is appealing to pretty much everybody. One of my neighbours bought a ticket to a matinee, thinking she’d be the only adult there, and she wasn’t. And she loved it!
Q&A with Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella Original Broadway Director Mark Brokaw
Q – So, this is not your grandmother’s Cinderella! I wonder if you can just talk a little bit about the take on Cinderella.
MB – Well, when I read the book, the first thing I thought was that Doug [book writer Douglas Carter Beane] had done a fantastic job of taking the traditional story of Cinderella that everybody knows and keeping to the heart of it, but kind of upending our expectations of who the characters were and how the story unravelled. He went back to the Charles Perrault telling of the tale – the French telling of the tale. And at the heart of that was a tale with charity, generosity and kindness. We were looking for a Cinderella that embodied all of those qualities, but at the same time wasn’t just the cliché “nice girl”. We wanted her to have a gravity and depth to her.
Q – Can you tell me a bit about the development and preview process?
MB – We had a reading, a year ago, and then we had a dance workshop for two weeks, then we had a four week workshop, and then we had another reading in October, and then we started rehearsals. And then we came to the theatre and had five weeks of previews. And a tremendous amount of work happened at every stage of the game. But it was really since we arrived at the theatre and just started working in front of an audience every night that the show has grown and transformed. There are three songs that are no longer in the piece and, also, it is 19 minutes shorter, than it was when we started previews; not to make it shorter, just to make it better. It was about focusing the story; focusing the story on the Prince and Cinderella. Because I think that’s the other thing, in Doug’s telling of the tale; it is very much a story about the two of them, with her certainly at the centre of the story, but it’s very much about how they help each other and about the two of them coming together, serving as a catalyst for unleashing everyone else in the story.
Q – Cinderella’s not just pure sweetness and light in this telling. She’s got…
MB – Backbone! For the part to work, you need to have someone who is capable of being vulnerable and being hurt by what happens to her and what’s inflicted upon her, during the course of the storytelling, but also is never victimized by it. It’s like those clown dummies that go down when they get punched, but come right back up! And that’s what she is in the tale; she’s able to absorb and then come back and keep going forward. And I think that’s at the heart of Doug’s tale, is that charity, generosity and kindness will triumph, ultimately. That those are the greatest qualities; better than beauty, better than wealth; that if you have those other three things, you have everything.
Q – When I tell people about the show, they start singing “Ten Minutes Ago” or “Do I Love You?” It seems that these songs are embedded in our DNA somehow; not just people of a certain age, but all across. Have you been seeing this showing up in audiences?
MB – Very much so. It’s been gratifying to see the audiences every night, because you have the kids who are six to twelve, and then you have the teenagers, and then you have the parents of the teenagers, and then you have the grandparents who are bringing their kids and then you have the adult, mature parents who are bringing their grown children to see it, and then you have dates – you have men and women with no children and just here on a romantic date night. It covers the gamut, in that way. And there really is something in it to appeal to everyone. It’s interesting that oddly enough it has never been on Broadway yet every generation has been exposed to it since 1957; the original, the Lesley Ann Warren and the Brandy versions. And all three are very different, all three leading ladies are very different. It’s interesting that everyone has some sort of connection to it and some sort of memory of it, no matter how distant.
Q&A with Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella Book Writer Douglas Carter Beane
Q – I would love to go back to the genesis of this piece. You know, this is one of those beloved Rodgers and Hammerstein scores, but it’s one of the strangest Rodgers and Hammerstein shows, in that it never played on Broadway. There’s never been, in a way, a definitive version, because there was the version with Julie Andrews, there was the version with Lesley Ann Warren and, even much later, with Brandy. So, I’d like to find out first your way into this show and how you started working with collaborators who are no longer with us.
DCB – But surprisingly powerful, nevertheless! Well, I was approached by [Broadway producer] Robyn Goodman to do a Broadway version of Cinderella and the first thing I said was, there’s not enough score to do a full show. And I said, “The problem with Cinderella always is: she loses the shoe at intermission – got it! – and that gives you the second act just for the guy to find the girl, and that’s really a lot to ask out of a second act.” So, as I do on every good thing I’ve ever done in my life, I passed. I was not really that interested.
And then I went home for the holidays, with all my sisters and my nieces and my nephews and my kids. We were looking to do a little project together – a little fun thing with drawing and everyone telling a story and everyone drawing parts of it – and I just went online and I typed in “Cinderella,” ‘cuz I thought we’ll do the Cinderella story. And from that was the Charles Perrault, the original French version. And I read it and I was knocked out. It’s only, like, a page and a half! But it already had so much stuff in it, that Americans and English people had just taken out, that was so powerful and beautiful.
Q – Just out of curiosity, what were those elements? What’s in the Perrault?
DCB – First, was that the court was overwhelmed with ridicule and sarcasm and that Cinderella was kind, and brought kindness to the court. Second, was that she didn’t just see the Prince once; she saw him a number of times and that she actually saved the Prince from the viciousness of the court. And the third was that one of the evil stepsisters turned out to be okay; she helped Cinderella and had a boyfriend! And I was like, “Oh my gosh! That’s a Rodgers and Hammerstein second couple.” So, those simple things are big, beautiful things for a librettist; it gives you something to play with.
That’s how I found the way in. And it’s actually using the Perrault. It is a perfect mesh of Rodgers and Hammerstein and their bigger shows, which always had big themes about, you know, kindness and responsibility – like Carousel and, especially, South Pacific and King and I. It was there in a good way.
So I went to Ted Chapin, who runs Rodgers and Hammerstein, and I told him the whole thing. When I mentioned the end of the first act, what we would do with it – the way it is now on Broadway and the way it’ll be on the tour – his jaw hit the ground. And he was, like, “No one will be able to talk about anything else during intermission!” And it’s from the 18th Century, you know? I’m not making this stuff up! So, then when it came to Broadway, it always delighted me and thrilled me, when people referred to it as a “revisionist Cinderella,” a “feminist Cinderella,” the “Girl-Power Cinderella,” the “Wicked-version of Cinderella,” you know, all these different versions! I’m just going back to the original – right down to the beggar woman turning out to be a Fairy Godmother.
Q – So, let me get this clear: the beggar woman, Mad Marie, who becomes the Fairy Godmother, is from the original?
DCB – That’s Prokofiev, from the ballet; it’s in there, as well. It’s a great theatrical device, because it allows us to have a Fairy Godmother in the show a lot more than she usually is.
Q – And it allows you to have yet a couple more magical costume transformations onstage…
DCB – You can never have enough!
Q – All right. So now you’ve found a way in. You know you’ve got these great Rodgers and Hammerstein songs, but not enough of them. So what happens next?
DCB – What happens next is I got The Complete Lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein, and went through everything he had written with Richard Rodgers and circled them. I found lyrics that corresponded to the story I was telling and prayed that Richard Rodgers had written music for it! The first was “Me, Who Am I?,” which originally was a section of cut opening number from Me and Juliet. And Bruce Pomahac, who’s in charge of the music at Rodgers and Hammerstein, just played it at the piano and it was terrific. I said, “This is a great song.” And, he said, “You know, Richard Rodgers was always looking for a place for this song.” And, I was, like, “We’ve got it!” So that was the opening number.
Q – And that is for the Prince.
DCB – That’s what the Prince sings. And then, there’s a song called “He Was Tall, Very Tall,” which Cinderella sings when she comes back at the top of the second act. And that was from The King and I, and that was sung by Anna; it was replaced with “When I think of Tom,” the verse of “Hello, Young Lovers.” And then, there was a fragment of a song from South Pacific that we use as part of the prologue, which I circled, because there was a line, “the world looks like a fairy tale book.” And I said, “oh that would be good” and I heard the music to that, and that was beautiful. So, I was really lucky.
Q – And I guess it was in the Brandy version where they used “There’s Music in You,” because that’s a big second act moment for the Fairy Godmother.
DCB – That was in a film they did, called Main Street to Broadway. And I knew the song forever, it was sung by Mary Martin. And it has a little bit of Allegro in it; “now you can go, wherever,” that’s from Allegro. A little bit of forensic musical theatre writing, right there!
Q – All right. So, now you’ve found music that can work to fill out the score. How do you “Douglas Carter Beane” this?
DCB – Well, it was all about tone. I knew that an audience coming in to see the show had to have a good time. And they have seen so much; they have seen Wicked, they have seen Shrek, they have seen Fractured Fairy Tales. All these things have happened since this television version. So I had to have a little snark to it and I took inspiration from Oscar Hammerstein’s lyrics. He was using contemporary colloquial speech in these situations. “Why would a fella want a girl like her?” You know, there was this little edge of contemporariness. And I said, “Well, I can do that. I’ll keep that as a little spice that I can put in and make it a contemporary story and make it feel fresh and new.”
This all happened very quickly. I wrote a draft and we did a reading with actors – not necessarily musical theatre actors – and then, we did a reading with music, where we all did the score. And we did a full workshop and another reading. And this is all relatively quickly, as musical theatre goes – within a two year span, we were on Broadway.
Q – One of the big changes is the Prince himself, who you call Topher in this version.
DCB – I wanted people to look at the program and not know exactly who everybody was, so I thought by calling them Ella and Topher, those would look like names that would be in a kindergarten now. Kids would identify with them.
Q – But he’s a guy who’s filled with doubt, although he can slay dragons, and he needs to have his eyes opened in more ways than just the romantic way.
DCB – I always saw the Prince as an ideal; I never saw him as a human being. And so I wanted to make him a guy. I wanted to make it a story that a young girl would see and go “That’s the Prince I should be looking for. I should be looking for a complicated guy who’s good…but needs a little help!” He needs somebody in his life to show him the right way. And I wanted little boys to look up at him and identify with him, like “I don’t feel perfect.” I mean, every other line of his in the first act is, like, “I don’t belong here. What am I doing here?” Which is great if that’s what your prince is; that’s something to work towards.
Q – It’s interesting. In the Rodgers and Hammerstein versions I know, there’s a mother and a father who are desperate to marry off the Prince.
DCB – That’s another thing that I did; I made both Topher and Ella orphans. I made them both feel that they were alone in the world. And that also allowed me to have the juxtaposition of, after she sings “In my own little corner/ in my own little chair,” the image of Topher, in an oversize throne singing, “I’m alone in my own little chair.” They’re both alone; they’re both trying to get through their life and neither of their guardians is doing a particularly good job! They’re pretty abusive and horrible.
Q – Obviously, for a show to succeed on Broadway, it’s gotta appeal to a wide audience. I went to see it recently and the audience was filled with school kids on Spring Break.
DCB – It’s an interesting mix. Sometimes, the matinees especially, are just packed with kids, and sometimes you just see two or three of them there. And it plays either way, which is very interesting. So it seems to work on both levels. I wanted something that everybody could go and have a good time. I mean when Cinderella shows up at that ball, I see fifty year-old men cry, ‘cuz it’s very meaningful. These stories stick around because they’re touching stuff deep within us. And they have informed the way we view life, because these are the stories we’re told to at a very particular time. So, it’s wonderful to see it work for everybody.
I love when kids are there. The other thing that people say is “they’re so attentive.” Well, a score like this makes you pay attention! It implies that you have to be a good little boy and girl; you have to listen to the story! You can’t run up and down the aisles.
Q – So, I guess you would say it’s both old-fashioned and new-fangled, in a way, because you’re talking about what you brought with the vernacular in the script, but the score is…
DCB – That’s what you want, that’s what it has to be. You want to be true to what it is, which is Rodgers and Hammerstein, but you want it to have a little contemporary life. When she loses the slipper the story’s pretty much over, in the other Cinderella. Here, you get to see them and their wonderful adventures and it’s exciting. It’s a real second act.
Q – Finally, what can people expect when they see this on tour?
DCB – Basically, it’s the Broadway version. You’re getting a new version of Cinderella. It is a beautiful classic story, told with a good friend, giving you a little wink along the way, saying “this is gonna be fun.” You’re gonna have a great time! The score’s sensational; it’s a wonderful introduction to classic Broadway for kids. And the costumes and the set are fantastic. We knew that we had a contract with a lot of audience members that it was their first show and if we didn’t do this right, they would never come back! So, we knew we had to put our hearts and souls into this to get it right; that we were training a generation of theatregoers, so we were well aware of our responsibility and we took it quite seriously.