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A Strange Trip to Cinderella

Date: Jul 09, 2014
After hitting the boards of the Great White Way in ensemble and featured roles, Paige Faure has finally landed a Broadway lead: Just last month, she assumed the title role in Rodgers and Hammestein’s Cinderella.

And while it’s rare enough for an actress to land such a major part, Faure’s journey to top billing has been especially unusual: Most recently, she left the ensemble of Bullets Over Broadway to start her new job, a swift exit that certainly wasn’t part of her plan: Last year, she says, “when I was in Honeymoon in Vegas at Paper Mill Playhouse, I knew it might have a Broadway life at some point, and having booked Bullets while in Honeymoon, I thought, ‘Great, I will do Bullets for a year, then Honeymoon: I had it all figured out and had two years planned. But then Ella in Cinderella popped up.”

Now, Faure is playing the role in the current revival, which has been at the Broadway Theatre since early 2013. This version sprinkles modern touches on the classic story of a neglected stepdaughter who becomes a princess. Though the famous Rodgers and Hammerstein score is still intact, Douglas Carter Beane’s revamped book includes updated dialogue, sly political references, a contemporary sense of humor, and millennial irony.

Fortunately for Faure, she understood those changes before she even started rehearsals: She first got involved with the show in December 2011, when she helped choreographer Josh Rhodes create the movement he would use to “audition” for the production. “I actually played Cinderella in Josh’s tryout for the job, as well as in the pre-production dance workshops,” she recalls. “And I met my now-husband Adam [Monley], who played revolutionary [character] Jean-Michel at that time. Then I did the full workshop when Laura [Osnes] played Ella, and I was going to be in the ensemble and the understudy on Broadway.”


Instead, Faure learned she was pregnant with her son Hank, which per her winding road, unexpectedly changed her course. “I wasn’t able to open with the company: My actual due date was even opening night! But I was so proud to be a part of the team, and I was able to be a vacation swing once. This show is definitely in me.”

That history eased Faure’s transition into the cast, despite the complicated logistics. “It was so nice to be able to rely on previous iterations,” she says, “especially since I was in double duty for three weeks, rehearsing Cinderella during the day and performing Bulletsat night. It was definitely dizzying switching from a guileless girl-woman to a saucy showgirl. Had I not already had the Cinderellavocabulary inside my brain, it would have been infinitely harder.”

Regardless of technical knowledge, however, Faure still grappled with understanding Ella’s core. “I tend to be a strong, go-get-em type of woman,” she says. “It was hard for me to understand why Ella would just let her stepmother and sisters demean her—why she would take it—and the psychology of what she had been through. But I realized a lot of children that have endured traumatic experiences or whose parents have passed away feel they can create their own world when alone, but also live with low self images. They haven’t had role models.”

She continues, “I had to fight against the inner urge to be a woman who stands up for herself. Instead, I had to let myself go to the place that Ella is from and see how she slowly but surely develops. I discovered that for Ella, she starts meek and mild. But throughout the show, there are these moments when she recognizes her own power—and the power she has to empower others.”

Lauren Kay is a dancer and writer based in New York City

Photos by Carol Rosegg