Musical Cinderellas!

The first 4 songs in this playlist are from the musical Into the Woods (music by Stephen Sondheim, book by James Lapine). It combines many different characters from different fairytales into one massive, interwoven story. The four songs I have chosen center around Cinderella’s character – do you think it’s realistic character development (Steps of the Palace, No One Is Alone)? plot development (Cinderella at the Grave, A Very Nice Prince)?

Note: The important Cinderella-character part stops after 1:29; she is talking to the baker’s wife that she meets in the woods on her way home from the ball.

The final 3 songs are from a musical called The Apple Tree (music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, book by both) and has three one-acts within it. The last act is entitled “Passionella.” It takes the Cinderella story and turns it into a modern tale about a chimney sweep named Ella who longs to be a movie star. She is miraculously transformed one night when watching late night TV and goes on a whirlwind adventure where she meets hr own prince charming in the form of a popular actor. Think about the character and theme development. How does the theme differ (you can go based off assumptions from the three songs, since I haven’t included the whole score)?

Feel free to look into the rest of the score for further detail or ask questions if you’re confused.


About Elisabeth Gruner

English professor, University of Richmond
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2 Responses to Musical Cinderellas!

  1. Caroline Mihok says:

    This is a great example of Cinderella! This musical definitely twists around the normal Cinderella story, by having the Prince fall for another women while walking ‘into the woods.’ Another difference is when Cinderella is singing to the tree which is supposed to be her mother. In other versions of Cinderella like Roger’s and Hammerstein’s, she is wishfully talking to her father. There is no fairy godmother in “Into the Woods”, but the mother asks for Cinderella’s wishes instead which adds a different emphasis to the role of her birthday mother.

  2. kellyncampbell says:

    Although I am not familiar with the second musical referenced, “Into the Woods” is one of my favorites. In it, Cinderella is initially represented as the typical Cinderella character but she quickly shows that she is different from the well-known passive, dependent character. She makes the character seem much more human in her uncertainty regarding the prince. How is she supposed to know after one night whether or not he is her perfect match? She is still young and inexperienced so it makes sense that she would be unsure of what to do in this situation. Another twist is added when we discover Prince Charming’s difficulty in staying faithful. The typical “happily ever after” ending does not provide us with with much information about the prince’s character. The fact that he fell in love with Cinderella so quickly makes it easy to see how he could fall in love with another fair maiden just as easily, Cinderella or not, shown by the reprise of “Agony” when he has found yet another princess to fall for.

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