Recently, Jezebel's own Kate Dries and Madeleine Davies ventured out to see Carly Rae Jepsen star in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella on Broadway. This is their discussion from the following day.
Madeleine: HEY I JUST MET YOU
Kate: THIS IS SO CRAZY
Madeleine: WE SAW CINDERELLA ON BROADWAY
Kate: ...that just does not have the same ring to it. I don't think this post will be a pop hit.
Madeleine: NOT WITH THAT ATTITUDE.
So last night you and I went to go see Cinderella on Broadway starring Carly Rae Jepsen and Fran Drescher for a limited time only.
Kate: Did you know Carly Rae Jepsen co-wrote "Call Me Maybe"? I was reminded of that upon reading her bio in the Playbill for this production. A bio that, I will add, was far less entertaining than her co-star Fran Drescher's:
"Ms. Drescher is most proud of her starring role in Beautician and the Beast..."
Madeleine: I don't remember the program. I literally forgot it under my seat in the theater. But Drescher should be proud. SHE WROTE THAT MOVIE, KATE.
Kate: WHAT?! Okay I'm learning a lot about writing and who does it today.
Madeleine: Wait, no she didn't. My brain made up that fact on its own.
Kate: Wishful Fran Drescher Facts dot tumblr dot com.
I just want to make a disclaimer that my viewing of the musical was probably drastically altered by the fact that I had JUST found out that Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin were divorcing before we went to see it.
Madeleine: Yeah, you told me that in line and I was very shaken.
It's also worth noting that our original seats were so bad that they were 86'd from the theater. Literally curtained them off so we couldn't get to them.
Kate: I contacted multiple press people for free tickets. None responded to me. Which made the whole thing even more mysterious. Why didn't they want us to see this production?!
Madeleine: The usher said he was getting us better seats and in this case "better" meant the second to last row. And the lone row behind us was filled with sleeping tourists who I impolitely took a blurry creep shot of.
Kate: Do you have theories about why they were sleeping? My only theory is that TKTS gives out cheap tickets and it had been a long day of touristing around New York.
Madeleine: I think that's a safe bet, but it could also be because the musical was very boring? I don't know what I was expecting though — it didn't dawn on me until the show started that Cinderella is a show for kids. I kept — rather unfairly — expecting it to turn into Into the Woods and it never did.
Kate: Since I starred as the Prince in my all-girls camp production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, I was aware of the content of the show. However, many details of my highly artistic life escape me on a regular basis – and at camp, we cut a lot of the songs featured in this production out, so I didn't recognize a bunch of them.
Madeleine: I didn't mention this last night, maybe because I was too ashamed, but I was also in a children's production of Cinderella and I was Cinderella's understudy ONLY THEY FIRED ME.
Kate: Prince > Cinderella's understudy.
Madeleine: Prince >>>> Cinderella's fired understudy. I just couldn't take the pressure.
Kate: If I haven't made it clear already, I played the Prince in my camp's production of Cinderella, and when I did, I had issues with the music – it was all very high-pitched for a man's part. I don't want to say that Carly Rae and Fran had issues with the music last night too, but they didn't exactly take me away to a magical land far far away or whatever this story is about.
Madeleine: I will say that they both had MAJOR issues with the music. Carly's not a bad singer, but her voice is just way too poppy and immature for Broadway. It couldn't fill the room! There was a moment in the second act where I thought that I probably could appreciate her voice in a piano bar, if she was singing a jazz set or something, but last night she reminded me of, like, the best girl in your college theater program. Which is not to say bad, just not ready.
Kate: Yeah especially after you linked me to a video of that other girl singing who starred in the production before her – she just had way more stage presence.
Also Carly Rae is TINY. So small.
Madeleine: She is the size of a matchbook.
Kate: That being said, I found Fran way more disappointing. She seemed really tired and her voice was super hoarse, even more so than the usual distinctive Fran voice.
Madeleine: I always feel a little bad for celebrities when they're brought on as a big-ticket draw for these Broadway shows because they can never keep up. The step sisters, the fairy godmother and the Prince all had such strong voices that it felt a little embarrassing whenever Fran or CRJ would be in a duet with one of them.
Kate: It's probably not any of their faults; this production was not magical.
Madeleine: Not for lack of trying!
Kate: Oh my god when the pumpkin like half-exploded and turned into the carriage.
Madeleine: There were some impressive costume changes.
Kate: Every woman should have a dress that turns into another dress by just flipping the dress over onto itself (while in the presence of other humans).
Madeleine: Okay, can we talk about how they straight up ripped off Belle's look from Beauty and the Beast?
Kate: YES. I dont think that Cinderella has to be blonde but good grief.
Madeleine: You can play around with her look, but for the banquet scene she looked exactly like this:
Down to the dress color, shoulder straps, hair and everything.
Kate: It made me sad because it reminded me of the production of Beauty and the Beast on Broadway I saw circa 2001 where Gaston was played by the dad from the Mary-Kate and Ashley TV show Two of a Kind. He was very talented but peeved when, during a private Q&A with my eighth grade class, he was incessantly asked about MK&A and not his role as Gaston which, I will admit, was really great.
(Sorry, long celebrities-on-Broadway related tangent.)
Madeleine: AWWWWWWW. What did you think of the ˜*˜*Prince*˜*˜
Kate: As someone who, as previously stated, starred as the Prince in my camp's production of Cinderella —
Madeleine: You hadn't mentioned.
Kate: — I was thrown when he walked on stage and instantly reminded me of our coworker Eric of Gizmodo. The resemblance was uncanny and has not left me. Eric, are you moonlighting on Broadway at night? (Yes.)
Madeleine: After the show, we were talking about how far we've come as far as the Disney Princess archetype goes. Cinderella is such a meek drip, so it seemed like the people in charge of the Broadway version were working very hard to give her a cause. The original story is just about her falling in love with a prince practically sight-unseen. And in this one, she's also working to save the peasant class.
Kate: Cinderella also doesn't lose her glass slipper for the Prince to find – she hands it to him. #feminism.
The most interesting song in this production is one that her stepsister sings, the "Stepsisters' Lament" which is actually very funny and still topical.
"Why would a fellow want a girl like her?/A frail and fluffy beauty?/Why can't a fellow ever once prefer/a solid girl like me?!"
Madeleine: That was the most entertaining song of the show.
The story really fails to translate to a modern context. Cinderella and the Prince are attracted to each other for the most boring reasons: beauty and being nice. Nowadays, we like girls who are sassy.
Kate: Yes we do!
Madeleine: Also, for some reason, I was perfectly able to suspend my disbelief about a fox turning into a footman, but could not accept that no one would recognize Cinderella at the ball.
Kate: That was absurd.
Madeleine: That Prince has the worst case of face blindness ever known to man.
Kate: I bet he and Cinderella will be really happy having missionary-style sex with their pajamas on for the rest of their lives though.
Madeleine: Totally. This was a show about two simpletons who meet and fall in love and that's fine.
Kate: That seemed to be enough for the (rest) of the audience. I got pretttyyyy bored and squirmed more than usual but the people surrounding us loved applauding at times that just did not need applauding.
Madeleine: It didn't help that we were both about 4 inches too tall for our seats. It made us extra squirmy. My main takeaway is that both of us are too immature to watch a musical meant for children.
Kate: Maybe it was hard for the people next to us too! They got up and left at intermission. We weren't alone in our suffering.
Madeleine: I feel like we should wrap this up. Final thoughts?
Kate: Um let me check my notes. "During dance scene [CRJ]'s neck looked broken." That's all I've got.
Image via Cinderella on Broadway