Review Roundup: Critics React To BAD CINDERELLA On Broadway

This modern retelling of the classic tale is set in the exceptionally beautiful kingdom of Belleville where Cinderella is no longer the damsel in distress.

By: Mar. 23, 2023
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Review Roundup: Critics React To BAD CINDERELLA On Broadway
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Andrew Lloyd Webber's Bad Cinderella opens tonight, March 23, at the Imperial Theatre! Bad Cinderella features a score by Lloyd Webber with lyrics by Tony Award-winner David Zippel, and is directed by Laurence Connor, with a book by Academy Award-winner Emerald Fennell and choreography by JoAnn M. Hunter.

Read reviews for the production below!

In addition to Linedy Genao in the title role, the complete cast of Bad Cinderella includes Carolee Carmello as the Machiavellian Stepmother, Grace McLean as the ever-exacting Queen, Jordan Dobson as the heir-do-well Sebastian, Sami Gayle as the ditzy step-sister Adele, Morgan Higgins as the husband-hungry step-sister Marie, Christina Acosta Robinson as the all-seeing Godmother, and Savy Jackson as the Cinderella alternate, with Raymond Baynard, Michael Baerga, Lauren Boyd, Tristen Buettel, Kaleigh Cronin, Josh Drake, Ben Lanham, Angel Lozada, Cameron Loyal, Mariah Lyttle, Sarah Meahl, Christian Probst, Larkin Reilly, Julio Rey, Lily Rose, J. Savage, Tregony Shepherd, Dave Schoonover, Paige Smallwood, and Aléna Watters rounding out the Ensemble, and Alyssa Carol, Gary Cooper, Robin Masella, Michael Milkanin, Chloe Nadon-Enriquez, and Lucas Thompson as Swings.

This modern retelling of the classic tale is set in the exceptionally beautiful kingdom of Belleville. Our Cinderella is no longer the damsel in distress who needs saving. She finds herself and her prince in new circumstances, which causes them to rethink what "happily ever after" really means.

 

Review Roundup: Critics React To BAD CINDERELLA On Broadway David Cote, Observer: The fact that Genao is a poor actor with a grating, nasal voice, and negative comic timing makes Cinderella less appealing than the gyrating cartoons around her. Pairing Fennell’s quippy and shallow book with lyricist David Zippel’s strenuously slangy lyrics and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s lugubrious, syrupy music might have screamed cross-generational synergy on paper, but it’s a woeful marriage: TikTok meets grandfather clock.

Review Roundup: Critics React To BAD CINDERELLA On Broadway Jesse Green, New York Times: That’s because “Bad Cinderella” is not the clever, high-spirited revamp you might have expected, casting contemporary fairy dust on the classic story of love and slippers. It has none of the grit of the Grimm tale, the sweetness of the Disney movie or the grace (let alone the melodic delight) of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. Instead, it’s surprisingly vulgar, sexed-up and dumbed-down: a parade of hustling women in bustiers and shirtless pec-rippling hunks.

Review Roundup: Critics React To BAD CINDERELLA On Broadway Chris Rovzar, Bloomberg News: The creators behind the new musical Bad Cinderella were at least clever about one thing: They claimed the word “bad” as their own before it could be used against them. Handily, there are many other useful terms to describe the production: “prurient,” “ill-conceived,” “non­sensical,” “overlong” and “icky.”

Review Roundup: Critics React To BAD CINDERELLA On Broadway Greg Evans, Deadline: What Bad Cinderella does have is an amusing enough premise, an appealing score of songs that please in the moment, a gorgeous set design, performers that give it their all, and just enough rousing, good-natured moments to hold onto hopes that Bad Cinderella will arrive somewhere transformative before Dorothy has to return to Kansas.

Review Roundup: Critics React To BAD CINDERELLA On Broadway Naveen Kumar, Variety: To clear up the obvious question, “Bad Cinderella,” which opened at the Imperial Theater Thursday night, isn’t good. Composed by Webber and with lyrics by David Zippel, it is a muddled and momentum-less retooling of the familiar fairy tale in search of a coherent point of view as if it were a glass-slippered foot. The book, originally written by Emerald Fennell, the Oscar winning screenwriter of “Promising Young Woman,” and adapted for Broadway by the playwright Alexis Scheer, is an illogical head-scratcher, despite being based on a story most everyone knows. “Bad Cinderella,” directed here by Laurence Connor (“School of Rock”), even manages to gleefully reinforce the chronic social fixations — on beauty, vanity and wealth — that it purports to deem toxic.

Review Roundup: Critics React To BAD CINDERELLA On Broadway Brittani Samuel, Broadway News: Webber’s limp score does little to help the production’s case. He stuffs it with sweet songs that tickle the ears, but never latch on to the heart. Genao and Dobson are great vocalists — but need time or meatier material to morph into memorable ones. Director Laurence Connor instructs his bubblegum ensemble to deliver lines with such rabid zeal (really clench your fist here, keep those lips pursed there) that actors appear to be mocking their own material. Carmello and McLean — both veterans — are the only players that sit in the ridiculousness of their characters’ hubris as if intrinsically motivated by it. They deliver sublime comedic performances, especially in the shade-throwing number “I Know You.”

Review Roundup: Critics React To BAD CINDERELLA On Broadway Adam Feldman, Time Out New York: The score, by Lloyd Webber and lyricist David Zippel, goes in one ear and comes out the other without troubling anything in between. You are unlikely to remember much of it, except the oft-repeated title-song motif—which has an advantage coming in, since it shamelessly evokes “In My Own Little Corner,” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella—and perhaps “Only You, Lonely You,” a ballad that Dobson delivers with suitable ardor. Directed sleekly by Lloyd Webber loyalist Laurence Connor, Bad Cinderella is the kind of show that seems destined to be left behind. It’s a shiny glass slip-up.

Review Roundup: Critics React To BAD CINDERELLA On Broadway Matt Windman, amNY: Well, “Bad Cinderella” (which was originally titled simply “Cinderella” when it premiered in London, which might have caused some consumer confusion) is splashy, campy, lightweight, overcharged, strident, and slight. If not necessarily bad, “Bad Cinderella” (which often feels like “Cinderella” combined with “Shrek” and “Clueless”) isn’t exactly great either.

Review Roundup: Critics React To BAD CINDERELLA On Broadway Greg Evans, Deadline: By the time it reaches its happily-ever-after ending – the musical doesn’t pretend for a moment it won’t get there – Bad Cinderella leaves us both more or less satisfied and more or less disappointed (you’ll think of the loose ends before you hit the exit door; whatever did happen to that we coulda been friends alliance between the good-bad heroine and her bad-bad stepsister?). 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.

Review Roundup: Critics React To BAD CINDERELLA On Broadway Chris Jones, Daily News: It’s like everyone involved here tried to get down with the high school kids and what they’re thinking these days but Lloyd Webber, writers Emerald Fenell and Alexis Sheer and lyricist David Zippel — even the typically excellent director Laurence Connor, whose “Les Miserables” was better than excellent — all end up looking like nervous chaperones telling pandering jokes at prom and proving only that they can’t buy a laugh.

Review Roundup: Critics React To BAD CINDERELLA On Broadway Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post: It’s a mess with multiple personality disorder. From start to finish during this perplexing and often dull fairytale spin — and, oh, does it spin — you’re never entirely sure what you’re watching or why you’re watching it.

Review Roundup: Critics React To BAD CINDERELLA On Broadway Amelia Merrill, New York Theatre Guide: Despite McLean’s humorous victories, Bad Cinderella is a flimsy, uninspired shadow that invests no confidence in its characters and chugs along without a thesis. It takes a familiar story and a veteran Broadway composer, hoping this will be enough, but at what cost? What is the musical trying to do, if even the possibility of spectacle or entertainment is hampered by its misogyny?

Review Roundup: Critics React To BAD CINDERELLA On Broadway Emlyn Travis, Entertainment Weekly: Herein lies Bad Cinderella's biggest problem: like its protagonists, it doesn't know what it wants to be. At times, it's an ominous cautionary tale of how the beauty industry — led by the Fairy Godmother (Christina Acosta Robinson), who excitedly waves a syringe instead of a wand — preys on insecurities and coerces others to conform to its unrealistic standards. At others, it's a critique on how fairytale endings don't actually exist, only for the show to culminate in its own highly dramatic happily ever after. And, at its best, it's a hilariously campy romp that doesn't take itself seriously in the slightest.

Review Roundup: Critics React To BAD CINDERELLA On Broadway Elysa Gardner, The Sun: Mostly, though, “Bad Cinderella” delivers as a tonic, fueled by Mr. Lloyd Webber’s diverting-enough score — infused, predictably, with rock bombast and a couple of earworm melodies — and brisk, sometimes bawdy comedy, with the latter particularly well served by the cast. For this 75-year-old musical theater veteran’s latest creative journey, it’s as happy an ending as anyone could have expected.

Review Roundup: Critics React To BAD CINDERELLA On Broadway
Average Rating: 35.7%


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