Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella for Young Children: a KidsOutAndAbout review and resource | Kids Out and About Atlanta <

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella for Young Children: a KidsOutAndAbout review and resource

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella for Young Children: a KidsOutAndAbout review and resource

by Kathleen McCormack


One of the best gifts my parents ever gave me was to start taking me to the theater at a young age. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella is a perfect introduction to theater for young audiences, but it’s timelessness and comedy make for “a lovely night” for adults as well. This show has not one but TWO remarkable transformations in which the Fairy Godmother magically changes Cinderella’s rags to an ornate ball gown. They’re two of the best moments on any stage, and, man, woman, or child, you’re going to want to see it live! 

Before you go, check out our guide to see who will enjoy the show most.

Young girls?

I agree that the theater is a dress-up occasion but many of the youngest to attend this show have taken it to a new level, arriving in their own lavish princess dresses! Was this the right place for these littlest of viewers? Absolutely. Wholesome, genuinely funny, inspiring… kids as young as age three will enjoy the spectacle of Cinderella on stage. Besides frilly dresses, solid life lessons abound. Cinderella is not just praised for being “dainty as a daisy” or “graceful as a bird”; she’s rewarded for kindness, she respects her friends’ values, and in the end, she offers her stepmother three crucial words: “I forgive you.”

Warning: One of the first scenes in the show is the prince battling some bug-type creature that screeches like a banshee. Some children may find this rather frightening. It’s the only scene in the play even relatively “scary” and the prince prevails in the end, but you may want to prepare your child ahead of time or distract her during that scene.

Young boys?

I'm certainly not a proponent of gender stereotypes in my home; my daughter was given dinosaurs and trains to play with along with dolls and kitchen sets. But I have a son, and I watched the whole show asking myself if he would enjoy it, and I gotta say, I think it would be a stretch. The audience was filled with adult women swooning to songs like “Ten Minutes Ago” and young girls wishing they could ride on the pumpkin carriage.

Yes, at the very beginning there are knights with swords and a prince on horseback and the hint of a dragon. But about 90% of the show is girls singing about love while being swooshed into the air with ruffles a-flowin’. You’re the best judge of your child’s interests, but if you’re trying to make a lifelong theater-lover of your son, there are many other shows that are more likely to hook him.


If you have the opportunity for an adult night out, do you really want to spend it watching some kiddie fairytale? Yes! Who can resist a handsome prince so entranced that he chases you through the kingdom to win your hand? *Sigh* Or if that’s not your thing, the show is genuinely hilarious. Many of the jokes will go right over your kids’ heads. Lines destined to become inside jokes in your house:

Charlotte: “Seriously?”

Sebastian: “It’s raining footwear!”

Gabrielle: “You could be my boyfriend!”

(You'll get it after you see the show - trust me!)


Cinderella is playing at the Auditorium Theater in Rochester, NY through December 14th 2014. For tickets, click here.

For future performances in other cities, click here.



Extend the Magic

Get the most out of the experience at the show by extending its magic and lessons with pre and post show activities.

Pre Show Ideas:

  • Watch one of the film versions starring Julie Andrews (1957), Lesley Ann Warren (1965), or Brandy (1997). Young children may not realize that this is not the Disney version of Cinderella. Being familiar with the lyrics and the slightly different storyline will help you avoid whispers of “When are they gonna sing ‘Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo’?” during the show.
  • Explore the Broadway website at Get previews of the elaborate costumes and watch clips of the magical scenes. Even the best seat in the house isn’t going to be able to show you the detail that the promotional videos and photos can offer.
  • Encourage wishful thinking. One of the catchiest songs in the show is “Impossible” in which the Fairy Godmother convinces Cinderella that anything is possible for those zany and foolish enough to dream. Ask your kids what they would wish for if met with the Fairy Godmother. But remember: Cinderella is only given this opportunity because of her kindness. Ask your kids what actions they have done/could do to earn an appearance from this wish-giver.


Post Show Ideas:

  • Think critically. No matter how many times I watch the clip online, I can’t quite figure out how they did the magical transformation of Cinderella in rags to her sparkling ball gown. Inspire innovative thinking in your kids. Ask them their theories as to how the director pulled it off. Have them pick another favorite story and invent a way to make movie magic work on stage. Aladdin’s flying carpet? Ariel’s swimming mermaid friends? Pinocchio’s growing nose? Real people get paid to take on these challenges!
  • Read other versions of Cinderella. “Aschenputtel” by the Brothers Grimm, Cendrillon by Charles Perrault, The Rough-Face Girl retold by Rafe Martin, or any of the 500+ versions of the classic tale. Find the common characteristics in all, then help your child to write his/her own.
  • See both sides. Characters that are too simple won’t seem believable to audiences. A well-developed character is dynamic: neither fully good nor fully bad. Take a closer look at some of the “villains” in Cinderella. Can you try to understand why they made their choices? Sebastian, the prince’s assistant, shields Topher from the tough issues in the kingdom. Any reason why? The “evil” stepmother said she married the first time for love and the second time for money. Can you see why she might have been wary of loving again?  After listening to “Stepsister’s Lament”, do you have any sympathy for Charlotte’s frustration with finding love?
  • Jean-Michel is considered to be a radical, fighting the highest level of authority for a cause in which he strongly believes. Browse through a newspaper and identify modern examples of people championing a cause. Ask your child what he/she believes in enough to take it to the authorities. Once they’ve become truly knowledgeable about the topic, help them to write a formal letter to someone who may be able to help them make a difference.

Check out the Educational Guide to the Play for behind-the-scenes info and more activity ideas.


 © 2014,

Kathleen McCormack is Managing Editor of and lives in the Rochester, NY area. When she accepted that she wouldn't make it on Broadway, she became an English teacher: the classroom her stage, the students her (reluctant) audience.