Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cinderella Is Coming to Broadway, and I Have Thoughts

After following the West End run of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cinderella with great anticipation, I was pleased to learn that the show is coming to Broadway after its controversial closing in the UK. I was a little less pleased when I learned that its title would be changed to Bad Cinderella. Yes, I know "Bad Cinderella" is the headlining song from the show and that they don't want people to confuse it with Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, but after Lloyd Webber was booed onstage for calling the production "a costly mistake" in a letter he wrote for its final curtain call, is it really a good idea to promote its revival in America with a derogatory adjective? Maybe if it didn't spark so much controversy in its British run, the title could have been interpreted as a parody along the lines of Disenchanted. At this point, it gives off the impression that Webber is making fun of the show, something that I personally don't think it deserves. However, after listening to the new lyrics for the song, I thought "Maybe the new title is appropriate after all." Give it a listen below.

The song, which is energetically performed by Broadway actress Linedy Genao, changes many lyrics from the British version by Carrie Hope Fletcher to the point where it takes on a completely different meaning. The most notable change is its chorus. Instead of "Call me Bad Cinderella," which sounded like a take on the old "sticks and stones" adage that used to be taught to children to help them tolerate bullying, Linedy now sings "I am Bad Cinderella," implying that she owns her reputation as a troublemaker and enjoys doing bad things. There was one lyric from the Carrie Hope Fletcher version that I felt never quite fit with the rest of the song, which was "Yes, I'm Bad Cinderella flying high in the sky." Unless the show had a crossover with Wicked or portrayed Cinderella doing hard substances, I thought this line was out of place. Now, it's a recurring line in main the chorus followed by the lyric "And from here I look down on you." Wasn't this elitist attitude the very thing that Carrie Hope Fletcher's Cinderella was trying to put down with this song? Now I'm concerned about what other changes might be made to the show.

Linedy Genao in front of the new Bad Cinderella poster

Of course, none of this is meant to besmirch Linedy Genao, who we have yet to see in costume or performing any of the show's songs live.* I hope she has a fantastic run in the role. From the little I've heard, her voice sounds more punk rock than Carrie Hope Fletcher, which may be appropriate for a character that defaces statues and acts out against her society. However, I feel that the lyric changes promote negative stereotypes about America that all women are militant feminists and all princesses must be retooled as masculine warriors. As an American woman, I can assure you that most of us are sick of these inaccurate portrayals that the media presents of us and would prefer to see ourselves portrayed as we are. I was impressed with the West End run of Cinderella because I thought it did just that. Cinderella felt trapped in her superficial village and thought she needed to act out to pretend that the people's bullying didn't get to her, when in reality, all she wanted was to be loved. The nuance of the original "Bad Cinderella" lyrics reminded me of the brilliant woman-led show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which depicted how women feel a need to deny their true feelings in public to avoid being shamed by maintaining a strong image even if they're falling apart on the inside. Songs like "I Know I Have a Heart" and "Far Too Late" prove that this version of Cinderella is just as vulnerable as any real living breathing woman. I pray that the American run doesn't ruin those songs as well.

Along with the new name comes a slightly modified poster. Gone are the cheerful blues and hot pinks from the West End run replaced with a rebellious red and black color scheme that gives off more of a goth vampire vibe than fairy tale. The tagline "an unconventional fairy tale" has been added just in case the new title wasn't enough to inform audiences that this isn't a classic retelling. The shape of the spray-painted dress has been slightly altered from forming a "W" for "Webber" to the "A" in "Bad," which I think looks fine since making it the producer's initial was a little self-serving, especially after the awful way he behaved around the show's closing in England. I also like how the graffiti style lettering has been emphasized in the new poster, although I miss the "E" and "R" in "Cinder" forming the shape of a glass slipper. While I understand that the show's press wants to give the new marketing more of an edge so parents won't be surprised by Cinderella's rebellious behaving, I think the harshness of the new poster might scare away long-time princess fans like myself because there's no hint of the character's underlying vulnerability that makes the show so nuanced and relatable.

At this time, I have mixed emotions about Bad Cinderella. While I'm glad it's coming to my home country, I'm not a fan of the changes that I've seen so far and must anticipate that this may not be the full extent of them. I hope American audiences are able to experience the same story that British audiences did about a young woman who feels she needs to pretend she doesn't care what anyone thinks of her when she's actually falling apart on the inside, which is how many of us Americans feel in today's polarized political climate. Which version of "Bad Cinderella" do you prefer? Let me know in the comments!

*Update: Just after posting this, I saw a video of Linedy Genao performing "Bad Cinderella" on the Today show, so I retract my statement about there being no videos of her singing the song.


Sugar said…
The song is catchy but definitely conveys the "rebellious princess" or "rebellious girl" feeling.
By the way I wonder Do you know the series of My little pony the magic of friendship? It has many traditional female elements and its protagonist is a pony girl student of Princess Celestia the Princess of the Ponys an alicorn and studies to take her place one day. It's a whole series about growing up. Twilight doesn't start out ready to be a queen.
Lisa Dawn said…
Oh yes, here is my MLP post:

Have a lovely day!

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