By Robert Simonson
09 Feb 2013
|Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN|
Director Mark Brokaw's latest Broadway assignment presents a unique opportunity. He's been given the opportunity to stage a Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II musical that has never before graced the Great White Way. Cinderella premiered as a 1957 television film starring Julie Andrews in the title role. Since then, it's been remade for television twice. It's also been given a number of live presentations, regionally, since the 1960s, with amendments to the TV script and score. The property's closest brush with Broadway was a national tour that played The Theatre at Madison Square Garden, in 2001; it was also produced by New York City Opera in 2005.
For this new Broadway production, the show has been updated for contemporary audiences with a new book by Douglas Carter Beane (Sister Act, Xanadu, Lysistrata Jones, The Little Dog Laughed, As Bees in Honey Drown). Additionally, four Rodgers and Hammerstein songs have been interpolated into the original score. We got a few minutes with Brokaw, known for directing Broadway's The Lyons, Cry-Baby, Reckless, The Constant Wife and After Miss Julie, and Off-Broadway's Lobby Hero, This Is Our Youth, How I Learned to Drive, The Dying Gaul and more.
Mark Brokaw: I got attached after Doug Beane. I think they approached Doug and then they approached me.
At that time, did you have a history with Cinderella? Was it a show that you knew? Had you seen the original television broadcast?
MB: When I was in grade school, I saw the  Lesley Ann Warren version. The only thing I remembered about it was, it was always exciting to watch because it started with a curtain opening. A curtain would open and, at the end, a curtain would close. I felt I was watching a Broadway musical.
When you became involved in this production, was the concept for the staging already in place?
MB: You know, I think Doug had a very clear idea about how he wanted to approach the story. Some songs that are included in his version were already a part of his book. When I read the book, his point of view was so clear. I have to say, when they first called me about Cinderella, my first instinct was, "Hm." But as soon as I read his book I was immediately hooked.
Can you talk more about Beane's perspective? If I read the script, would I immediately recognize it as a Douglas Carter Beane piece of work?
MB: Oh, gosh! I think it has his trademark wit. It has his trademark intelligence. But I think it's different, because I don't think he's ever tackled material exactly like this before. I think he has very smartly reinvented the fairy tale — and, at the same time, with absolute respect for the story. I think he upends our expectations for the story, and keeps us on our toes. And he upends our expectations for the characters, as well.