‘Bad Cinderella’ Review: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Muddled, Sexed-Up, Broadway Spin on the Fairy Tale Is True to Its Name
Naveen Kumar The addition of “bad” to the title of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s latest maximalist spectacle, formerly known simply as “Cinderella” when it premiered for a short-lived run on the West End in 2021, would seem like a cleverly self-conscious move. Was it preemptive self-defense against Broadway reviews like this one, that would apply aesthetic judgment to the musical’s gauche bonanza of too-muchness? Would its version of Cinderella be — you know, a bad girl, but in a sexually liberated (and feminist!) way? Or was it a rare bit of truth in advertising? 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.