NEW YORK (AP) — What's this happening in Cinderella's magical kingdom? Is that a challenge to absolute monarchy we hear amid the romance and dancing? My goodness, it is: There's a demand for democracy. Children, there's even a call for economic justice.
What kind of fairy tale is this?
In the hands of playwright Douglas Carter Beane, a quite fine one actually.
Beane, who wrote the books for "Xanadu," ''Lysistrata Jones," and "The Little Dog Laughed," has had to be limber on this one: Keeping the elements of the classic story — those pumpkins and glass slippers need to be there — while making it relevant and not-too-twee for adults, too.
Beane has succeeded, proving he may be Cinderella's real fairy godmother. His script crackles with sweetness and freshness, combining a little "Monty Python's Spamalot" with some "Les Miserables."
"Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella," which opened Sunday at the Broadway Theatre, mixes songs from the Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II back catalog along with tunes they wrote for the original 1957 TV version of the story starring Julie Andrews.
The second half action sags a little as the creators try to shoehorn in as many songs as possible, but there's no denying this charming, witty adaptation that uses puppetry, Josh Rhodes' athletic choreography, lush William Ivey Long costumes that magically appear even when you're looking hard, and dreamy music put together by David Chase and Andy Einhorn.
Director Mark Brokaw gets high marks for juggling a lot of dancing, special effects, heavy scenery and top-notch singing, all in service of a quirky, yet heart filled take on the classic story.
They're helped by a first-rate cast, led by Laura Osnes, who one suspects was born to play a princess. She's so naturally earnest and sweet than she barely has to act. Her last role on Broadway was as the murdering Bonnie Parker in the short-lived "Bonnie & Clyde," so she deserves a "happily ever after" in a pair of Stuart Weitzman-designed sparkly pumps.