It doesn’t seem so long ago that we were seated beneath a summer sky watching the story of the poor maiden with the mean stepsisters who finds her prince charming.
It was, as a matter of fact, in 2011 that Starlight Theatre audiences saw a version of “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” but that was before the big Broadway revival in 2013. And the national tour based on that revival is set to open Tuesday at the outdoor showplace in Swope Park.
This revised version features a rewritten book and additional lyrics by Douglas Carter Beane, a witty playwright whose work includes “The Little Dog Laughed” and “As Bees in Honey Drown,” both of which were staged at the Unicorn Theatre.
The 2013 production of “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” received several Tony nominations. The only winner was costume designer William Ivey Long.
The show was originally written for television and was first broadcast in 1957 with Julie Andrews in the title role. There were two subsequent TV versions of the show.
The touring company features Paige Faure as Cinderella and Andy Huntington Jones as the Prince. Also in the cast: Johnson County native Kaitlyn Davidson as Gabrielle, one of the mean stepsisters.
The show has been well-received on the road.
“The story’s natural enchantment is greatly enhanced by the music of Richard Rodgers and the lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein II, who wrote the original book,” wrote Charles McNulty of the Los Angeles Times. “When the Prince and Cinderella swooningly sing ‘Ten Minutes Ago’ or ‘Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful’ (with its magnificent second line, ‘Or are you beautiful because I love you?’), fault-finding falls by the wayside.”
David Lyman of the Cincinnati Enquirer complained that the music doesn’t meet Rodgers’ highest standard but added that “thanks to a heavily revised script by Douglas Carter Beane and a cast that is spirited, talented and wonderfully agreeable, ‘Cinderella’ feels buoyant and fresh.”
Beane’s script, Lyman wrote, “is decidedly 2015. Breezy and amusing, it’s packed with contemporary slang and sensibilities, giving these characters a humaneness they wouldn’t otherwise have.”
Some critics, however, thought Beane’s script was an awkward fit.
“Beane’s book does not improve on the original efforts by Hammerstein, mostly because it still wants its romantic fairy tale cake along with a hefty dose of irony and self-awareness,” wrote Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune. “Romance and snark are not easy bedfellows.”