PLAYBILL BRIEF ENCOUNTER With Mark Brokaw, the Director Helping Cinderella Slip Into New Shoes
By Robert Simonson
Mark Brokaw, lauded for directing the works of Paul Vogel, Douglas Carter Beane, Nicky Silver and Kenneth Lonergan, brings his magic to the Broadway premiere of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella.
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.
How did you get attached to this project?
At that time, did you have a history with Cinderella? Was it a show that you knew? Had you seen the original television broadcast?
When you became involved in this production, was the concept for the staging already in place?
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?
It must be one of the challenges for you, to strike that balance between a sincere respect for the musical and finding a fresh interpretation that would appeal to modern audiences.
What Rodgers and Hammerstein songs were interpolated into the score?
You've directed Broadway musicals before. But is there a difference between directing a new musical and directing a piece by Rodgers and Hammerstein? Do you have to use different tools?
From a certain point of view, you're in the curious position of directing a Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway premiere.
And all the numbers have been newly orchestrated.
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