“Bad Cinderella”: Is It Called “Bad” for a Reason?


Stacey Krivitsky

Courtesy of Stacey Krivitsky

Get ready for a fun fairy tale rewrite! The famed composer Andrew Lloyd Webber’s unbroken streak, with at least one of his musicals playing on Broadway since 1979, will now not end with the closing of The Phantom of the Opera in April of 2023. Webber’s latest musical, Bad Cinderella, recently began previews on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre after previously running in the West End through 2022. The Broadway production stars Latina actress Linedy Genao as the rebellious title character, rising star Jordan Dobson as Prince Sebastian, and stage veterans Carolee Carmello and Grace McLean as the evil stepmother and the queen, respectively.

Forget everything you know about the classic fairytale, because in the beautiful kingdom of Belleville, the queen’s beloved, talented, firstborn son, Prince Charming has died in a battle against a dragon. His younger brother, Prince Sebastian, is cowardly and puny. The queen builds a memorial statue in honor of Prince Charming. At the ceremony, Belleville citizens are shocked to see that the statue has been vandalized. Instantly, the townspeople blame the local misfit, Cinderella, a rebellious and outspoken maid. The local hunks capture her and tie her to a tree in the woods. Prince Sebastian is Cinderella’s only childhood friend and arrives to rescue and tease her.

At home, Cinderella struggles with her pompous stepsisters, Adele and Marie. They complain that Cinderella makes their lives difficult; her stepmother threatens to kick Cinderella out of the house if she causes any more trouble. The queen soon decides that in order to save the town’s reputation, she must throw a royal ball for Prince Sebastian to choose a bride. Determined to go to the ball, Cinderella visits the fairy godmother to become ‘beautiful.’ She trades her mother’s precious necklace in exchange for a beautiful gown and crystal heels.

At the ball, Prince Sebastian does not notice Cinderella due to her brand-new appearance. Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters are also at the ball, and her stepmother instructs Adele to kiss Prince Sebastian at the stroke of midnight. She does so, and the queen declares that Adele is Prince Sebastian’s bride. Cinderella leaves, heartbroken and in despair at losing not only her only best friend but also her true love.

At the wedding of Adele and Prince Sebastian, Prince Charming shockingly appears. Belleville learns that he had faked his death to prevent his own arranged marriage and has returned to marry the love of his life, Duc de Violette, and to save Prince Sebastian. Cinderella assumes Prince Sebastian has gotten married and plans to leave Belleville. Just before her departure, Prince Sebastian arrives with her mother’s necklace and explains to her what has happened. Cinderella forgives Sebastian and they decide to run away together and ultimately share a poignant kiss.

I saw the first preview of Bad Cinderella on February 17. I was a bit hesitant after seeing poor comments and reviews online, but it exceeded my expectations. All the components of the show were incredible; the actors, actresses, costumes, music, and set were all so gorgeous. I particularly enjoyed the royal ball scene and the beautiful gowns. A preview of a Broadway show may often include various issues such as sudden stops and mistakes, but my experience seeing the preview was remarkable, and I did not notice any obvious problems. My only critique is that the fairy godmother scene seemed very rushed. One minute, Cinderella is in her home, arguing with her stepmother and stepsisters, and the next minute, the fairy godmother abruptly appears. It seemed very hurried and sudden, and I was confused about how the fairy godmother had actually arrived. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed Bad Cinderella. Furthermore, I love that this adaptation adds inclusivity, with a Latina lead and same-sex marriage, and is relatable with its down-to-earth characters and theme of hunting for perfection.

Like Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats and The Phantom of the Opera, Bad Cinderella is an extraordinary contemporary musical adaptation of the classic fairytale we all know and love and is truly a must-see. The only “bad” thing about this musical is Cinderella’s rebellious personality!