Modernized, socially conscious “Cinderella” is still a fairy tale

cinderella logoA friend and I went to see the Rodgers and Hammerstein rendition of “Cinderella” at the Fox Theater in St. Louis yesterday.

I don’t know what the original copyright date is for this version of the fairy tale, but it must have been at a time when the writers actually believed that elections would produce leaders who cared about the peasants and working stiffs.

In this version, the Prince is a great guy who really wants to know how his subjects are faring, but his handlers hide the truth from him. The rich land owners and top government functionaries are in cahoots to cheat the people of their hard earned rewards. One passionate champion of the people tries to convince them they must go as a large group to the castle and insist that the Prince listen to their grievances. But the people are purposely distracted by trinkets and grand promises.

At one point the King’s comptroller explains to his obedient staff that the trick to being successful is to take from the people as much as possible without taking so much that they start a rebellion. (By now, you know where I’m going with this.)

Wouldn’t you know, it’s a beautiful young woman who finally gets the attention of the Prince. After lots of stuff happening at midnight, etc., she finally gets to tell him that his people are losing their land and being cast out to starve. She gives him a book with stories about how governments are run in other countries which he reads immediately and sees in Chapter 2 that some societies hold elections to choose their leaders. BAM! What a great idea.

The Prince declares an election to be held in one month to see who will be prime minister. The choice is between the King’s Chief Thief and the Champion of the People. Of course the people’s choice is the rabble rouser who had been agitating for change all along. But he is gracious enough to shake the hand of his opponent and agree that they would work together for the good of the whole kingdom. (cough, cough)

And they all lived happily ever after.

Oh, please. Gimme a break.

But the sets, costumes, special effects and singing were all wonderful.