It was not a bonner night for Belleville.
Andrew Lloyd Webber, David Zippel and Emerald Fennell’s musical Bad Cinderella has opened to critics on Broadway, and it’s fair to say the results were patchy at best.
First seen on this side of the Atlantic minus the “bad” adjective, the show was retooled and recast for its spell on the Great White Way, which kicked off earlier this year.
On the more solid side, The Guardian and The Stage each gave the piece three stars, with The Guardian saying “Cinderella doesn’t have that much to say in the end. But if bubblegum melodies, outfits that slay, and pectoral-forward fun is what you’re after, the shoe fits.”
Our sibling site TheaterMania was philosophical in its analysis, and while often positive, said: “amid the parade of beefcakes in S&M harnesses (Gabriela Tylesova’s costumes range from extravagant to skimpy) is ballad after ballad that takes us out of the frivolity. There’s a whiplash in tone, from sarcastic to sincere, that the the production simply can’t handle”.
Deadline joined them on the fence: “It’s certainly not the worst Andrew Lloyd Webber musical (Aspects of Love is safe), nor as remotely problematic (or distinctive) as Evita. Put it somewhere between School of Rock and The Woman in White, enjoy it, and hope for a happier ending next time around.”
The bulk of the Broadway critics lived up, however, to their customary viciousness. The New York Post (who love to be the meanest kid in the playground) labelled the show “a wacko storybook dumpster fire”, giving it a total of one star.
The New York Times was more constructive in its criticism, stating: “Bring earplugs. Not just because the songs in Bad Cinderella, the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical that opened on Thursday at the Imperial Theater, are so crushingly loud… The dialogue, too, would benefit from inaudibility.” They went on to say “the title warned us”.
Entertainment Weekly takes issue with the depiction of the central protagonist: “Cinderella is strangely passive and has little to no sense of personal agency throughout the show.”
Variety says: “To clear up the obvious question, Bad Cinderella, which opened at the Imperial Theater Thursday night, isn’t good.”
In fairness, Variety and TheaterMania both labelled the show “horny”, if that’s anything to go by.