It’s not every day that an established playwright and screenwriter passes on an opportunity to create an updated Broadway show, but that’s just what Douglas Carter Beane (To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar) initially did.
“The problem with Cinderella always is: She loses the shoe at intermission — got it! — and that gives you the second act just for the guy to find the girl, and that’s really a lot to ask out of a second act,” Beane says. “So, as I do on every good thing I’ve ever done in my life, I passed. I was not really that interested.”
But when he went home for the holidays, with lots of kids and family, he thought it’d be fun to create a play or story together — and why not Cinderella?
“I just went online and I typed in ‘Cinderella,’ cuz I thought we’ll do the Cinderella story,” Beane says. “And from that was the Charles Perrault, the original French version. And I read it and I was knocked out. It’s only, like, a page and a half! But it already had so much stuff in it, that Americans and English people had just taken out, that was so powerful and beautiful.”
Beane’s restaging of the beloved tale includes motifs found in the original story.
“First was that the court was overwhelmed with ridicule and sarcasm and that Cinderella was kind, and brought kindness to the court,” Beane says. “Second was that she didn’t just see the prince once; she saw him a number of times and that she actually saved the prince from the viciousness of the court.
“And the third was that one of the evil stepsisters turned out to be okay; she helped Cinderella and had a boyfriend. And I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh! That’s a Rodgers and Hammerstein second couple.’ So, those simple things are big, beautiful things for a librettist. It gives you something to play with.”
Catch Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella 7:30 pm Tuesday and Wednesday, May 2-3, at the Hult Center. Tickets at hultcenter.org or 541-682-5000.