Camila Cabello, Idina Menzel, and Billy Porter give life to an amazing readaptation of the popular fairytale Cinderella in an exciting and meaningful jukebox musical!
Hello dear explorers and welcome to a new episode of the Acting Explorers Club! Today we’re going to dive into an amazing new production, which is also an adaptation of one of the classiest fairytales of all time… You guessed it! It’s Cinderella!
I think we all know where it all started. The story of Cinderella has many different adaptations but surely the most famous one is from Walt Disney in 1950, which also has two sequels produced in the early 2000s. Since then, her story has been rewritten lots of times, the most recent and famous one being the 2015 Cinderella movie with Lily James and Richard Madden.
For the version we’re going to talk about though, the director Kay Cannon and her team decided to go for a jukebox musical (meaning that most of the songs are preexistent songs). The main character, Ella, is Camilla Cabello, while the prince is portrayed by Nicholar Galitzine. But this movie casts other big names such as Idina Mendez, who famously gave her voice to Princess Elsa (from the Frozen saga) as the stepmother and Billie Porter as the Fairy godmother, a revolutionary casting choice that we’re going to discuss later in the article!
We know the challenges an actor can face when acting in a musical. You have to know how to sing, dance, act and do it all at the same time. It is a great quality for aspiring actors to try and learn as many skills as possible! Directors and producers love to work with talented people who are capable of switching their gear during the same production.
Don’t worry! It’s not like you have to know how to do everything perfectly, but it’s always good to learn new skills that you can showcase when you're auditioning for your next big role.
Although I’m sure that many of you already know the story of Cinderella, I’m going to be careful and not spoil the many interesting changes that this version of the classic fairytale entails.
Ella, because yes, that’s her actual name, is a young orphan girl living with her stepmother and her two daughters. She’s a quirky and witty daydreamer, with a great talent for fashion design and the dream of running her own boutique someday. Most of all, she’s willing to work for it.
At the same time, on the other side of the realm, in the high palaces, lives a funny and trouble-making young prince, Robert. From the very beginning, we can see that following the royal path is not really his biggest interest and, while his father is looking for a young bride who’s going to reinforce the power of the kingdom, he’s willing to find his true love.
One day, during a guard-changing ceremony, the two free-spirited youngsters meet, and for Robert is love at first sight!
The story goes on until they live happily ever after, of course, but it’s interesting to see the many changes that are made from the original plot and to enjoy this refreshing and modern perspective on one of the most fascinating love stories of all time.
Cinderella: behind the scenes
As we already know, working in a musical can be tricky for both actors and singers. In fact, as an actor, you find yourself in situations where you have to master skills, like singing and dancing, which can be out of your comfort zone, but the musical experience can be difficult for singers as well.
For Camila Cabello, for example, it was her first time acting and, as she said when talking about the preparation for the movie, she had to take acting classes in order to be ready for the part. Even for Nicholas Galitzine (Prince Robert), getting the role was not easy. For him who is new to the industry, the challenging part was to sing and perform alongside big artists such as Billy Porter and Idina Menzel. This is what he said about his approach to this role:
“As someone who’s never been musically trained, I am sort of used to being in a position where I have to kind of do things on the fly because I wasn’t trained as an actor, either, and I’ve very much learned on the job. So I think apart from this being such a fun experience, it was also a really educational one because on the musical side, I really got to work side-by-side with such amazing talented people and really learn and pick up as much information from them as I could”.
The strong emotions, of course, are not limited to the rising stars. Also Billy Porter, an award-winning and navigated artist, had a great deal of enthusiasm in doing this movie due to him being chosen as the Fairy godmother. In an interview with colleague James Corden, he says that it was his long time dream to interpret a role that was once interpreted by one of his idols, Whitney Houston. Moreover, he said that it was really significant for him, getting an offer for this role:
“For a long time I was told that my queerness was a liability. It was difficult to sort of find my way and so to have lived long enough to get to the other side of that mess and be seen [...]. And that’s a good thing, the new representation it’s a good thing. So it’s been such a wonderful and monumental experience for me, I’m so excited about this… It’s very special, I feel very seen and I’m excited”.
What we loved about Cinderella
There’s a short answer for this: everything. From the diverse and colorful casting, to the remodeling that has been done on all the characters, this musical is a refreshing, funny and emotional experience.
One thing I particularly loved about the movie was the fact that the characters are not inherently good or bad: they’re all well-rounded but also seen and understood. For example, we’re used to seeing the stepmother as an evil woman, whose only purpose in life is to hurt Ella, or Cinderella as she calls her. In this readaptation, though, we get to see her vulnerable side, the reason why she acts as she does. She doesn’t want Ella to daydream because she also used to hope for a life where she could live her dream and she got hurt. She simply doesn’t want Ella to live in an illusion and get hurt in the process.
Another important lesson we learn from this story is the courage that it takes to be who we’re really meant to be. This is a great lesson for you, aspiring actors.
Ella’s dream is to become a designer, to have her own boutique, and despite everybody being against her project she doesn’t let anybody bring her down. She’s willing to work for her dream. “If it’s a million to one, I’m gonna be that one”, this is what she says in her song. She’s ready to get her hands dirty and to make a great deal of sacrifice in order to finally become who she’s really meant to be.
And this is the most important lesson you have to take f