A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article about Cameron Mackintosh’s three rules to creating a hit show. The first rule was using well-known and time proven subject matter. The second was adding a soaring score. But it is the third rule that I want to focus on for the newest adaption of Roger & Hammerstein’s Cinderella on Broadway!
That third rule was an element of spectacle. And it is arguably the most important of the three rules. Audiences can read/watch/engage with the well-known subject matter at home. They can also listen to the soaring score when the cast recording comes out. But they can’t experience the spectacle from the comfort of their own four walls.
Cinderella satisfies all these three requirements, but it truly is the element of spectacle which gets the audience talking (and applauding). And that comes down to the costuming.
In the story of Cinderella there are a number of magical reveals. An old beggar woman turns out to be a fairy godmother. Cinderella changes from ragged step-daughter into the beautiful belle of the ball. And then she changes back again. And then back to the beautiful belle of the ball.
The production could have done these changes off-stage, but then they would have missed the element of spectacle. So all these costume changes are done on-stage with the help of some costuming magic to the delight of the audience. In fact, every single costume change received its own round of applause as the audience sat awestruck!
And I can guarantee you that when everyone in that audience talks to their friends about their Cinderella experience, the costumes will be one of the first things that they mention. This is great for recruiting future audiences!
The magical costumes are an element which can only be experienced in the theatre providing an opportunity that future audience members literally have to ‘see’ in order to ‘believe’. YouTube cannot suffice for this element of spectacle so there is a real incentive to go and see the show rather than watch snippets on the internet.