No One Asked for Another Cinderella, but Here We Are

There is no fairy tale that has been retold as many times as "Cinderella." With a new jukebox musical on Amazon Prime and West End stage show from Andrew Lloyd Webber, the story has no shortage of modern-day retellings. That's why I couldn't bring myself to get excited when I heard that Jennifer Lopez is developing a limited series based on Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella with Skydance Television and Concord Originals. This version alone has had three made-for television films and a 2013 Broadway revival starring Broadway Princess Party's Laura Osnes. Can you blame me for not feeling at least a little skeptical of yet another version of this rags-to-riches classic that the media has shoved down our throats for years?

From left to right - Disney's animated Cinderella (1950), Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted adaptation (2004), Ever After (1998), Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella (1997), Amazon Prime's Cinderella (2021)

What's even more concerning about the announcement is that it is not another feature-length film, but instead a limited series with multiple episodes written by Rachel Shukert, who worked on Netflix series GLOW and The Baby-Sitters Club. That means this version is likely to spend even more time torturing us with the mistreatment of Cinderella's wicked stepfamily before she finally has an opportunity to attend the glittering ball. Then again, it could spend extra time developing her relationship with the prince as so many newer retellings do, but we already know they're going to fall in love with each other no matter what stage in their lives they meet at. In fact, the story was already converted into a 26-episode anime series in 1996 that I was not able to watch for more than a few episodes because it was so slow and dry. I'm skeptical that it can be dragged out again in modern times in a way that will maintain the interest of the TikTok generation.

I am, however, eager to hear new versions of the songs from this classic musical. Rodgers and Hammerstein have penned some of the best "Cinderella" songs ever written, superior even to the Disney soundtrack, in my opinion. Hopefully, they won't try to modernize them too much by incorporating rap or something along those lines. Even though the producers claim that this version will "expand upon this story in a contemporary way," I can't see them changing it too much when they already have a specific version embedded as its source material. Plus, the 1997 version starring Brandy was the perfect modern adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical. As far as modernizing it goes, Andrew Lloyd Webber did a bang-up job with his stage musical that will sadly end its run on June 12th, and it is unlikely for lightning to strike twice.

Group shot from the ending of Descendants 3

If you feel like you're getting buried in cinders already, then I have some bad news. This isn't the only version of "Cinderella" being planned for the foreseeable future. Disney's annoyingly popular tween franchise, Descendants, ended on a high note in 2019 with the bad-kids-turned-good forgiving the good-princess-turned-evil in Descendants 3. This would have been a great way to conclude the series, but Disney is determined to keep it going. They recently announced an upcoming Disney+ sequel called The Pocketwatch. This film will feature Red, the daughter of the Alice in Wonderland's Queen of Hearts teaming up with Chloe, the daughter of--you guessed it--Cinderella and Prince Charming. If they're going to do whatever they want with these character anyway, they might as well find some more obscure ones to ruin. At least the story of The Pocketwatch has very little to do with "Cinderella." It follows Red and Chloe's adventures through time using the White Rabbit's pocketwatch to prevent an impending coup in Auradon. It sounds original enough, so I'm be willing to give it a chance.

In a time of non-stop remakes, it shouldn't come as much of a shock that other studios want to take advantage of stories in the public domain. Still, I can't help but question Jennifer Lopez's decision to choose a public domain story that has already had multiple retellings released within the past year alone. Even Disney surprised me by picking such an oversaturated character to have offspring in its next Descendants sequel instead of someone fresh and original like Elsa, Moana, or Raya. Then again, maybe I'm just a grumpy old princess fan. Maybe the new limited series will surprise me just like Andrew Lloyd Webber's adaptation did. What are your thoughts? Are you looking forward to another retelling of "Cinderella," or would you prefer to see something more original?

Comments

Jim to the Ski said…
As long as it's not full of woke pandering (racebending, or making Cinderella a man hating, anti-romance, independent woman lesbian) it should be okay.

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