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Andrew Lloyd Webber's Bad Cinderella Got a Style all Her Own

by Neal Dikeman

We took in an evening of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new Broadway coming of age musical mocudrama Bad Cinderella for Spring Break. To be clear, the we was myself, a jaded hard to please theater goer who’s binge watched shows on Broadway and West End when in town since I was in college, and my three dates, age 43, 10, and 8, whose attention spans and tastes vary from Abba to Disney to Hamilton. For those that just want the punchline, Bad Cinderella has now knocked out Hamilton from the daily school car ride playlist and made it in my top 5. I’ve read a bunch of mystifyingly bad reviews about this preview; those critics are basically Boomer cake eaters. Ignore them and Listen

We saw 6 shows (if you count the Stardust Diner as a show, which I do). Our expensive planned smash hit for Spring Break was supposed to be either Wicked (the musical obsession of the 10 year old and one of my own reigning favorites) or Lion King (in which the 8 year old is learning lines to play Simba in her local musical theater class). We took in those two on Tuesday and Wednesday after shelling out the insane Manhattan tax for mediocre seating for a family of four. They did not disappoint. To be fair my dates have been obsessively listening to the Hamilton soundtrack for months, and even a rising crescendo of excitement for the chance to see Wicked (a prior favorite) has not been able to dethrone Hamilton from the morning school commute ride musical demands. Bad Cinderella swept the literal and figurative floor with Wicked and Lion King from all three critics, though Wicked may have barely edged it for one depending on her mood. As for me? Well, I’ve got a top 5 that includes my first big show ever, seeing Lerner & Loewe’s Camelot with Robert Goulet as Arthur in the 1992 traveling reprise, Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia in the West End, and Julius Caesar, Les Mis and Wicked in any format, time or place. I’m adding Bad Cinderella. I’ll admit, I’m Gen X. I like ballads, country music, gospel, and I generally prefer Rodgers & Hammerstein, Lerner & Loewe, Dr. Who, or a deep cerebral play, to an Andrew Lloyd Webber or any Broadway rock opera. But ALW may have broken through with Bad Cinderella since I’m now searching youtube for song snippets and writing my first review of anything in years.

A good musical leaves a taste in your ear and takes you on a roller coaster. It leaves you a snippet of song, like in Defying Graaaaaavity, or Oldd man riverrr, that lasts. I’ll be fair. I do not like the name Bad Cinderella, it’s an awful name, and I don’t like the classic Cinderella story for my girls. We really almost skipped this show just for that. Now I can’t get the cadence of Linedy with Webber’s “I am baad Cinderreeella” out of my head. I’m not sure Bad Cinderella delivers the sheer volume of snippets that Wicked does, but somehow I don't care either. It definitely leaves a taste in your ear and makes you leave the theater happy.

Linedy Genao may be my new stage crush after Jenna Coleman, but Jordan Dobson as Prince Sebastian and Grace McLean as the Queen might actually have been the better actors that night. The character development through the plot is extremely well done, the script is terrific. Every key character is amazingly dynamic in down to earth realistic ways and this NY cast just nails it. I started out prepared to hate it because it’s Cinderella, and should just stay in Disney’s vault and stop poisoning young girl’s minds, and then at the beginning just got annoyed at Linedy’s snotty, rebellious almost fake attitude. The opening scene was fun and bright, but early the plot felt rough and obvious. I was missing Wicked from the night before and began wondering why I didn’t see Shucked. Then Linedy and & Co sold it to me. She grows on you, and that’s intentional. Step by step, line by line, scene by scene. And Sebastian starts off as a doofus whom you’re not sure is actually a main character, and ends very believably as the boy you’d be ok with your daughter running off to see. Even the step sisters are almost relatable by the end, and well, they’ve got a 100 years of negative history to fight through courtesy of Disney.

The costumes make an 8 year old who just wore a Mirabel Encanto costume dress to a dinner party drool. Color everywhere, over the top, but some how perfectly appropriate. The mix of hot pastel Encanto challenging scenes and outfits, brooding forest sets, and Sebastian’s little Napoleon uniform just fit with Cinderella’s very all her own style. A NY Post critic called Linedy’s outfit something for a Mandalorian supporting actor. I think they really thought that was an insult. Got news for you. Gina Carano's Cara Dune, Katee Sackhoff's Bo-Katan Kryze, and The Mandalorian have a lot more fans than you do. And my girls are also all about their own style as is everyone under the age of 30.

The show is like some old school Animaniacs and Bugs Bunny, packed with silly and bawdy jokes and scenes for adults that somehow manage to skim just over the kids heads, but a fun show and the underlying messaging is pure heart that I want my daughters to see over and over. I won’t actually let them watch the actual Disney Cinderella with its awful portrayal of “poor little me waiting on a prince to marry and give me purpose”, but they do get to watch Encanto, Moana, and Raya as many times as they want. Think of Bad Cinderella as Moana and Raya on stage together with Encanto colors and singing. This is not Cinderella. This is something new. This Cinderella is real and deep. Her fears are real. Her relationships and reactions are real. Her mistakes are real. Her growth is very real. She matters in 2023.

As we stood in line at 10 am with two very bored to tears elementary kids to hope 4 rush tickets somewhere near each other were available, the older lady behind us kept trying to talk us out of seeing it, suggesting all sorts of not kid friendly options, saying she’d heard Linedy Genao was not playing tonight, and “that was the only reason to see the show”. We’re pretty sure she was just trying to get us to drop out of line so she could get better seats. She was at least half right. Linedy Genao was to die for. But she didn’t do it alone. Tell the critics to go eat some more cake, and take your family to see Linedy. This may be Andrew Lloyd Weber’s last big debut, he’s getting up there. It also may be the first time he’s ever done a show that nails it from age 8 to 80, and New York to Texas. And it’ll be weeks before I get that “I am Bad Cinderella” cadence out of my head.

I am Baad Cindereella.

Got a style of my own.

And I will. Not. change it for you….

Linedy and Andrew, Don't change a thing. You nailed this one.

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1 Comment

"Bad Cinderella has now knocked out Hamilton from the daily school car ride playlist and made it in my top 5." Wow. High praise, indeed. We've currently got Hamilton, Beetlejuice, & Newsies in heavy rotation, with some Percy Jackson and the occasional selection from SIX. Glad your experience was so positive. Hope to catch it our next to get the bad taste of TUTS' Legally Blonde out of our mouths.

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