A musical adaptation of Cinderella-based film ‘Ever After’ sets its sights on Broadway

Drew Barrymore and Dougray Scott in "Ever After."

Drew Barrymore and Dougray Scott in “Ever After.”

A musical adaptation of the 1998 film Ever After, another adaptation of the Grimm Brothers’ Cinderella, has taken its first steps towards Broadway in a developmental lab that was set to run through May 13. Set to star in the developmental lab are Jeremy Jordan (Newsies, Bonnie and Clyde, Smash), Sierra Boggess (The Little Mermaid, Love Never Dies) and Ashley Spencer (Grease, Rock of Ages), with Tony winner Kathleen Marshall at the helm as director.

In case you aren’t familiar with the movie, the general plot is fairly easy to follow. Danielle de Barbarac, having just gained a stepmother and two stepsisters though marriage, loses her father when she is just eight. Ten years later, she finds herself a servant in her own household, catering to her “evil” stepmother Rodmilla, cruel stepsister Marguerite, and kinder-hearted, butt-of-the-family-jokes Jacqueline.  She wins the heart of France’s Prince Henry with her feisty personality and knowledge of literature but has to meet him secretly and in disguise due to her servant status.  Lies are told, people are manipulated precious family heirlooms are seemingly traded for Danielle’s hand in marriage to a sleazy benefactor of the de Barbarac estate yet somehow the couple finds each other in the end and begins their life together.

The wonderful thing about Ever After is its ability to find a happy balance between Disney’s kid-friendly interpretation, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s whimsical, slightly comedic adaptation and the Grimms’ more, well, grim original story.  Through of this blend of all three versions, the audience can relate easily to the characters, feeling what they feel, as they embark on their journeys of struggling and growth right alongside the characters.

Audience’s hearts break when Danielle relinquishes her deceased mother’s jewel-adorned shoes to selfish Marguerite in exchange for a copy of Utopia (the last gift her father ever gave her), only to be betrayed as her cruel stepsister sends the book crashing into the fireplace.  They cheer with joy when Danielle later sends Marguerite flying feet first over the bed with a powerful right hook, and wish they could deliver a few punches themselves.  When Jacqueline, turning her back on her blood relatives, begins to help and form a friendship with Danielle, viewers cling hopefully to that small light that seems to be appearing at the end of the tunnel.

None of us may be royal or have had the chance to experience that perfectly scripted “fairy tale ending,” but we somehow still relate to Danielle and her story.  It is a story of hope and encouragement, one that reminds us with the last words spoken that “the point is not that they lived happily ever after, but that they lived.”

With all of the recent news of movies now in early stages of becoming Broadway productions, the question begs to be asked: will time-period, French countryside Ever After carry over well to the stage?  And, perhaps more importantly, is Broadway ready for two Cinderellas at once? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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