Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical adaptation of the fairytale. It was originally written and performed live on CBS television in 1957, with Julie Andrews starring in the title role. A 1965 remake, starring Lesley Ann Warren and with a revised script (plus a Cut Song from South Pacific) was rerun well into The '90s.
The Wonderful World of Disney's rewritten 1997 remake starred Brandy, along with Whitney Houston as both the co-producer and the fairy godmother. This version had a slightly more modern feel to it and featured a multiracial cast, along with an added character named Lionel and three other Richard Rodgers songs added to the score. While the original is clearly an old-fashioned medieval atmosphere, the remake is more surreal and colorful, and it's pretty debatable what country they're in (mostly due to the mixed races). Most theater fans prefer the 1957 original, but the remakes are Cult Classics among those who saw them as children.
The 1957 version was given a Screen-to-Stage Adaptation that served as a U.S. community theater staple for years, and occasionally had professional stagings (but never on Broadway). In the wake of the '97 remake, this version was revised for further professional stagings; the licenser now offers both the original version and a '97-based version (known as the "Enchanted Edition") to amateur groups.
This show made its Broadway debut from 2013-2015, with a new book by Douglas Carter Beane and Cut Songs from other Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals added to the score. This version adds another villain in the form of Prince Christopher's evil regent Sebastian, who oppresses the poor of the kingdom — and whom Cinderella's stepmother is collaborating with.
- Adaptation Name Change: The stepsisters' names changed in each script. In 1957, they were Joy and Portia. In 1965, they changed to Prunella and Esmeralda. In 1997, they became Calliope and Minerva. In the 2013 Broadway production they are named Charlotte and Gabrielle.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: In 1957, Howard Lindsay portrayed King Maximilian with a lampshaded beer belly. The remakes have Walter Pidgeon and Victor Garber play slimmer kings, and both also cut out the song referencing the original's portly figure.
- Adaptational Backstory Change: The addition of "Falling in Love With Love" to the 1997 version and its context implies Cinderella's stepmother was once deeply in love with her first husband and/or Cinderella's father, but his passing left her heartbroken and bitter and determined to never follow her heart again. The 2013 version confirms this interpretation.
- Adaptational Context Change:
- "The Prince is Giving a Ball" opened the 1957 version, but the remakes and the Broadway version each moved it to a later spot, to make room for additional songs. Sometimes, "In My Own Little Corner" also occurs before it.
- At the 1957 ball, "Gavotte" continued over Cinderella and Prince Christopher's Dance of Romance, with "Waltz For a Ball" accompanying multiple couples' dances after "Stepsisters' Lament". In 1965, Cinderella and Christopher danced alone to "Waltz For a Ball" before singing "Ten Minutes Ago". The 1997 version had "Waltz For a Ball" play first for Cinderella and Christopher dancing alone, and again for all the couples who waltz after "Ten Minutes Ago".
- Adaptational Early Appearance: Starting with the 1965 remake, Cinderella meets Prince Christopher before the ball, instead of during it. The relocation of "The Prince is Giving a Ball" also allows his parents to appear before the announcement of the ball.
- Aerith and Bob: See Overly Long Name.
- Bad Bedroom, Bad Life: Cinderella is implied to sleep in the chair she sings about in the song "In My Own Little Corner". Being that she considers it her one little spot in the house that's truly hers, despite it just being a chair in the corner of the house, it shows just how mistreated she is.
- Call-Back: In the 1965 and 1997 versions, after Cinderella's stepsisters fail to fit the slipper, Cinderella gets Prince Christopher's attention through circumstances similar to the scene in which they met.
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe: In 1957 and 1965, the Fairy Godmother is enabled to send Cinderella to the ball because the latter wishes for it hard enough.
- Crowd Song: "The Prince is Giving a Ball".
- Decon-Recon Switch: The whole point of the song Impossible, referencing at first how completely and utterly ridiculous the whole plot of Cinderella is at the point where the Fairy Godmother arrives... before the Fairy Godmother turns it around and declares "Impossible things are happening every day...", and then starts to do the magic...
- Disappeared Dad:
- It's made pretty clear that Cinderella's father is dead. But we never learn where her mother went. (She's probably dead too.)
- And the Prince's parents are both dead in the 2013 version, opening up an opportunity for villains to seize power.
- Even the stepsisters are without their father, one way or another.
- Domestic Abuse: The stepmother does this to Cinderella, but she eventually takes a level in kindness in the 1957 version.
- Double Entendre: The 1957 and 1965 versions include a scene of Cinderella imagining acting "coy and flirtatious" towards Prince Christopher, and reminding him not to "say such things."
- Easily Forgiven: The stepmother and her daughters rarely get punished in any incarnation, including the Broadway show...the sole exception being the 90's film where they are left outside the gate at Cinderella's wedding, implying they do not get to share in her happy ending. Somewhat justified in that this is being faithful to Perrault's version of the story. The 60's version is also a little better about this; upon Cinderella's reveal, the stepmother and stepsisters bow to her of their own volition and are later seen processing into the palace among the royal family.
- Everything's Better with Spinning:
- Lesley Ann Warren and Brandy spin during their respective dress transformation scenes.Fairy Godmother ('97): Spin around, don't make me do all the work!
- Julie Andrews did not spin in the live 1957 version because she acquired her ballgown in between scene changes.
- In the 2013 Broadway performance, Laura Osnes spins as her dress "magically" appears.
- Lesley Ann Warren and Brandy spin during their respective dress transformation scenes.
- Fairy Godmother: It's an adaptation of Cinderella after all. It was either that or a magical tree with the power to grant wishes.
- Fourth Date Marriage: In the TV versions, Cinderella and Prince Christopher share 2-3 onscreen interactions before they get married. Enforced in the 1997 remake, in which the Fairy Godmother conjures up the couple's wedding outfits and ceremony right after Cinderella puts on the glass slipper.
- Garden of Love: Cinderella and Prince Christopher spend time in the castle's garden getting to know each other, then share a kiss.
- The Girl Who Fits This Slipper: But of course. This is the story that named that trope, after all. Although the TV versions also have Christopher take a good look at Cinderella's face before he declares her the right woman.
- Gorgeous Garment Generation: Part and parcel of the Fairy Godmother's powers; in some versions she performs this on herself and/or Prince Christopher in addition to Cinderella.
- "I Am" Song / "I Want" Song: "In My Own Little Corner" and its reprise, respectively. This is partly a deconstruction of an "I Want" Song, since it is about how Cinderella is trying to be content in her life already by using her imagination. But at the same time, her fantasies of different lives show her yearning for something better, especially in the reprise when she imagines herself at the ball.
- In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: The title cards and bumpers for the remakes read, "Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella", with the '57 version also referred to as such in its end credits and publicity materialsnote .
- The Ingenue: Guess who?
- Let's Duet: At the ball, Cinderella and Prince Christopher sing "Ten Minutes Ago" while dancing, and "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful?" when they share their First Kiss.
- Love at First Sight: Discussed when Cinderella and Prince Christopher sing about how they met and fell in love "Ten Minutes Ago". (Although, in the 1965 and 1997 versions, the ball marks the second time they meet.)
- Make a Wish: Cinderella's wish to go to the ball naturally summons her Fairy Godmother to help her, with the 1957 and '97 versions even having her wish aloud before the Godmother appears.
- Marry for Love: Prince Christopher insists on choosing his bride himself.
- Meaningful Name: Pointed out in the 1965 and 1997 versions. Cinderella explains that she got her name from sitting in the cinders.Prince Christopher ('97): "Ohh. Cinderella."
- Mr. Imagination: Cinderella's habitual coping strategy, as explored in "In My Own Little Corner." This trait also turns the '57 and '13 versions into some of the few Cinderella stories in which Cinderella helps the Fairy Godmother figure out how to send her to the ball, when Cinderella shares a fantasy of a pumpkin and some mice changing into a horse-drawn carriage, which whisks her to the castle.
- The Musical: Another musical retelling.
- No Name Given: The fairy godmother and the stepmother. The Stepmother is "Beulla" in the "old community theatre" version, though it's an All There in the Script.
- Overly Long Name: Prince Christopher Rupert Windemere Vladimir Carl Alexander Francois Reginald Lancelot Herman (Herman?) Herman. Gregory James, son of Her Majesty Queen Constantina Charlotte Ermintrude Guinevere Maisie (Maisie?) Maisie! Marguerite Ann and His Majesty King Maximillian Godfrey Ladislaus Leopold Sydney (Sydney?) SYDNEY! Frederick John.
- Pimped-Out Dress: Both Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother.
- Protagonist Title: Cinderella's name is also the title of the musical.
- Rhyming with Itself: "A Lovely Night" rhymes "night," "prince," and "you" with themselves.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Our heroine.
- Suddenly Speaking: Sometimes the rat who becomes Cinderella's footman gains the ability to speak English during his transformation.
- Teleportation: The Fairy Godmother can arrive out of thin air.
- Triumphant Reprise: "Impossible" has a pessimistic and cynical first half, but also a part meant to create a glimmer of hope for Cinderella's dreams. After the Fairy Godmother grants Cinderella's wish to go to the ball, the two of them sing "It's Possible," which boasts more optimistic lyrics. It sounds especially triumphant in the 1997 version.
- Villain Song: "Stepsisters' Lament".
- What Does He See in Her?: "The Stepsisters' Lament.'' The twist of course is that the ugly stepsisters can't figure out why the prince would turn them down for the much more attractive Cinderella.Oh, why would a fellow want a girl like her,
A girl who's merely lovely,
Why can't a fellow ever once prefer
A girl who's merely me?
- When the Clock Strikes Twelve: Obviously. As with The Girl Who Fits This Slipper, this is the Trope Namer. In the 1997 version, Cinderella expresses disappointment at having such a tight curfew. The Fairy Godmother then tells her that she doesn't make the rules about how long her magic can last.
- Adipose Rex: "I want the wine of my country! The wine of my country is beer!"
- All Women Are Lustful: Stepsister Joy. She's even seen flirting with someone during Cinderella's wedding.
- Ambiguous Time Period: While the remakes are clearly set in fairy tale kingdoms, the original could very easily be set in the 50's; the godmother telling Cinderella she would be better off as a hired servant makes it very likely that the piece is not set in ancient Europe. And get a load of that chic, form-fitting, Audrey-Hepburn-worthy number Cinderella wears at the ball.
- Award-Bait Song: "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful?" got some pushes when Oscar Hammerstein II recited it on The Ed Sullivan Show, before Cinderella aired, and when the telecast played it over the end credits. (The 1965 remake also plays this song over the end titles.)
- Beta Couple: The king and queen.
- Covers Always Lie: Some publicity stills◊ show Cinderella wearing a dress with a much bigger skirt than in the actual musical. The dress was difficult for changing as well as Julie Andrews finding it hard to dance in.
- Creative Closing Credits: As each cast member's name appears in the end credits, he or she gives blessings to the newlywed Cinderella and Christopher.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: The day after the ball, Cinderella decides to go visit Prince Christopher herself instead of wait for him to return.
- First-Name Basis: Prince Christopher asks Cinderella to call him "Christopher" as opposed to "your majesty" or his Overly Long Name.
- Ironic Name: Joy is a sourpuss and Portia isn't nearly as wise as the character in The Merchant of Venice that she's named after.
- Letting Her Hair Down: Averted. Cinderella starts out with a loose ponytail and goes to the ball with a Prim and Proper Bun.
- Love at First Sight: Played absolutely straight. Jon Cypher looks like the floor's just dropped out from underneath him. In true musical fashion, the two leads proceed to sing about it in "Ten Minutes Ago."Ten minutes ago I saw you, I looked up when you came through the door - my head started reeling, you gave me the feeling the room had no ceiling or floor! Ten minutes ago I met you, and we murmured our 'how do you do's' - I wanted to ring out the bells and fling out my arms and to sing out the news!
- Magical Nanny: Sort of. In this version the fairy godmother really is Cinderella's godmother. She just hasn't told her she's a fairy yet.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The viewers never actually see Cinderella's dress transform: The scene cuts from Cinderella in rags, to the Godmother twirling her baton-like Magic Wand, to Cinderella in a fancy robe. During the following commercial break, Julie Andrews went backstage to don her actual ballgown.
- Overly Long Gag: Count how many times Cinderella is told to close the window. In the same scene.
- Prim and Proper Bun: Cinderella after the transformation.
- Product Displacement: The removal of commercials from the DVD brings the end credits' instrumental of "A Lovely Night" to a rather sudden end when the CBS Vanity Plate appears.
- Really 700 Years Old: Rodgers had 30 year-old Edie Adams portray the centuries-old Fairy Godmother.
- Shown Their Work: Practically the only adaption of Perrault's Cinderella to get right that the Fairy Godmother is Cinderella's literal godmother, whom Cinderella has known since childhood (though not knowing that she's a fairy until the night of the ball).
- Sidetracked by the Analogy:Cinderella: I wish that by some kind of magic, or abracadabra, or fol-de-rol and fiddle-dee-dee that all the kind hearts in the world will put their heads together...
Godmother: All the kind hearts put their heads together?
Cinderella: Oh, you know what I mean.
- Adaptational Context Change: The Fairy Godmother originally recited "Fol-De-Rol" to teach Cinderella that if she does nothing but wish and dream, she won't earn her happy ending. In the '65 version, the Fairy Godmother recites it to remind Cinderella not to become discouraged by cynics who dismiss wishing and dreaming as completely worthless. (The '97 version later restored the original context.)
- And Starring: From the main titles:Also Starring: Stuart Damon*
Co-Starring: Pat Carroll* and Barbara Ruick*
And Introducing: Lesley Ann Warren as Cinderella
- Book-Ends: The musical begins with a gate opening and ends with it closing.
- Character Tics: Stepsister Esmeralda bats her eyes too much for her mother's or the prince's liking.
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience:
- The Prince dances with several women in brightly colored gowns, but he and Cinderella are the only two at the ball wearing white. When they dance together, it helps them to stand out in the crowd of jewel-tone dresses and men's tights.
- The ugly stepsisters and stepmother wear very flashy gowns of metallic brocade to the ball, whereas the other attendants wear solid, jewel-tone outfits.
- Color-Coded Patrician: Overlaps with The Rich Have White Stuff. Prince Christopher is the only dancer at the ball wearing white... until Cinderella shows up in her magically conjured gown. The king and queen also wear coordinated outfits with ermine trim, though theirs are pink and red with ermine trim.
- Darker and Edgier: The stepmother and stepsisters are portrayed as genuinely abusive towards Cinderella, instead of being comic relief like in the 50's and 90's version.
- Disneyfication: The film was intended to be more of a straightforward fairy tale than the original, which was more of an Affectionate Parody. Cinderella even rides a carriage that looks like the one Disney's Cinderella rode.
- Ermine Cape Effect: The king and queen wear gowns, capes, and robes trimmed with ermine in most of their appearances. Even Christopher wears a fancy, impractical suit of clothes when he returns from adventuring.
- The Girl Who Fits This Slipper: Averted; the prince recognizes Cinderella, then has her try on the shoe.
- "I Want" Song: Prince Christopher's "Loneliness of Evening", originally a Cut Song from South Pacific.
- Karmic Jackpot: In this version, Cinderella's kindness is emphasized when she gives a stranger some water; the stranger turns out to be the prince. Presumably, her mysterious familiarity is what attracts the prince at the ball. Later, when he goes to Cinderella's cottage, she offers him water a second time, leading him to finally realize who she is.
- Leitmotif: The fairy godmother has one.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Prince Christopher had apparently returned from fighting dragons and rescuing princesses.
- Something Only They Would Say: Whether Cinderella is wearing rags or a ballgown, Prince Christopher seems to recognize her when she returns his thank-you's with, "You are most kindly welcome."
- White Stallion: Prince Christopher rides a white horse, which also carries Cinderella through town on her wedding day.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Beauty = Goodness is averted since the villain is played by Bernadette Peters.
- Adaptational Context Change: "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful?" originally followed the First Kiss between Cinderella and Prince Christopher, but this version turns it into buildup to the kiss.
- Adaptational Early Appearance: The Fairy Godmother previously didn't appear until the night of the ball, but here she materializes before the main titles, crooning some of "Impossible" to the viewers.
- And Starring: The opening credits list Veanne Cox (Calliope) and Natalie Desselle (Minerva) under "Also Starring", and gives Paolo Montalban (Prince Christopher) the "Introducing" treatment.
- Annoying Laugh: Calliope snorts when she laughs.
- Anti-Interference Lock Up: Cinderella gets locked in the kitchen when the prince arrives, in an effort to prevent her from revealing herself to him. However, she manages to meet up with him outside anyway, easily foiling her stepmother's plans despite her efforts.
- Beauty = Goodness: Really, this trope is completely discarded. In addition to the aforementioned Adaptational Attractiveness of the stepmother, it isn't ugliness that the stepsisters use to contrast with Cinderella. In this version, instead, they're clumsy, improper, stupid (even the stepmother shows signs she can't stand this; see Surrounded by Idiots below), and have some strange bad habits.
- Beta Couple: The king and queen.
- Big "NO!": The stepmother yells this immediately before Cinderella tries on the glass slipper, knowing it to be a perfect fit, before she faints and Lionel says, "Quiet, woman!"
- Bowdlerise: The Double Entendre mentioned above became reduced to, "Oh, your highness!"
- Butt-Monkey: Lionel. In spades.
- Colorblind Casting: Although the story could hypothetically have any race, this trope applies because a white man (Victor Garber) and a black woman (Whoopi Goldberg) can have a Filipino son.
- Covers Always Lie: The back of the VHS/DVD case credits Hammerstein with all of the lyrics, even though "The Sweetest Sounds" and "Falling In Love With Love" respectively had lyrics from Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, instead.
- Credits Montage: The end credits accompany each actor's name with a clip of his or her character.
- Dirty Old Man: When the king and queen are discussing Cinderella, the king is a little too impressed with how beautiful she is.King Maximillian: Why, if I were a young man I'd...
Queen Constantina: Yes, dear?
King Maximillian: Well, I'd be younger, wouldn't I?
Queen Constantina: Yes, dear.
- Distant Duet:
- Before Cinderella and Prince Christopher meet, they sing "The Sweetest Sounds" from two different parts of the marketplace. After they meet, they reprise it before returning to their respective homes.
- After the ball, Christopher reprises "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful?" after finding Cinderella's missing glass slipper, and she joins in from the path back to her stepmother's house.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The stepmother, who is rich and domineering, is white. Cinderella, who works for her as a mistreated household servant, is black. Although it is relieving that one of the stepsisters and the queen are both black, so this was most likely unintentional.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: The fairy godmother encourages Cinderella to stop sitting around and dreaming and just get out there and make it happen. Even after she gives Cinderella the carriage and ballgown she wished for, the godmother leaves her to go inside the palace alone; she'll easily get Prince Christopher's attention, but she'll have to make him love her for herself.Fairy Godmother: I got you to the ball. The rest comes from you.
- Establishing Character Moment: Cinderella's very first line of dialogue is in response to her stepsisters trying on a hideously tacky hat and then demanding her opinion of it. She politely replies "Well, I don't know very much about hats, but I don't think it's very becoming to either of you." This response immediately sets her up as a courteous, gentle young woman who is nevertheless unafraid to speak her mind, tell the truth, or allow herself to be intimidated, which in turns establishes her as somewhat stronger-willed than previous incarnations.
- Everything's Better with Sparkles: While the first two versions' fairy godmothers wielded magic wands, this one uses sparkling magic dust.
- Fat and Skinny: Minerva and Calliope, respectively.
- Friendly Enemies: The stepsisters seem to have this relationship with Cinderella—at the very least, they ask for her opinions on fashion (largely to settle their own disputes) and later happily join in her song "A Lovely Night," with all three dancing together. It seems to be more a case of their stepmother forcing her opinions on the girls and them being too foolish to think otherwise, rather than any maliciousness on their part.
- The Girl Who Fits This Slipper: Played hilariously straight when Christopher allows a few white girls to try on the slipper, despite Cinderella having been African-American, and then subverted when it fits Cinderella's stepmother and Christopher refuses to believe she is the girl he danced with.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: After the shoe fails to fit either of the stepsisters, Cinderella's stepmother becomes so desperate she'll do anything for the prince's money. She locks Cinderella in the kitchen (knowing her identity), offers herself to the prince by trying on the shoe, helplessly begs him to marry one of her daughters, and then when all else fails, she gives a Big "NO!" and then passes out.
- Hollywood Old: The only reason we know Bernadette Peters is middle aged in this movie is because the dialogue tells us so.
- Homoerotic Subtext: There's a very short clip at the ball that involves the stepmother dancing with a woman. She was probably shooing her off so that her daughter could dance with the Prince, but still.
- Hypocritical Humor: Not in-universe, and probably not intentional, but at one point the stepmother tells Cinderella not to "cling to the past" because "it's not very attractive." This is said by Bernadette Peters, who hasn't aged for thirty years.
- I Just Want to Be Free: Cinderella, in regards to her servitude, and the Prince, in regards to his royal obligations.
- Inconvenient Itch: Minerva gets itchy when she's nervous and so keeps trying to discreetly scratch herself while dancing with the prince.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: The stepsisters. Then again, this is how they're usually played.
- "I Want" Song: Cinderella's and Prince Christopher's "The Sweetest Sounds", originally written by Rodgers for No Strings.
- King Incognito: Prince Christopher sometimes leaves the castle in a peasant's guise, to discreetly interact with his subjects in person; he and Cinderella first meet during one such outing.
- Large Ham: Basically everyone except the two leads has moments in this area, notably Whoopi Goldberg, Bernadette Peters, and Jason Alexander. Although Whoopi's portion of it consists of mostly squeaking.
- Love at First Sight: Played straight between Prince Christopher and Cinderella at the ball, but averted earlier when they just become fast friends based on their mutual "I Just Want to be Free" attitudes.
- Meaningful Echo: Cinderella first meets the Prince when he, as a "charming stranger", helps her pick up her bags after a royal coachman runs over them. Later, during the who-fits-the-slipper part of the movie, Cinderella again falls victim to a royal coachman. They say the same lines every time, and as they recite them the second time, both of them are realizing exactly who the other is.Christopher: Just like those royals, isn't it? Not caring if they're in anyone's way?
Cinderella: Well, I'm sure they were going somewhere very important.
- Then he asks for her name.Cinderella: Cinderella.
Christopher: Cinderella. I like it.
Cinderella: It grows on you, I guess.
- Then he asks for her name.
- Meet Cute: When Cinderella first meets Christopher, who's disguised as a commoner. They bring back a few lines from that scene at the end; see Meaningful Echo above.
- My Beloved Smother: Crosses over with I Want Grandkids in regards to Queen Constantina. She's very eager to marry off her son and has apparently planned several balls featuring "family...a few friends...and every eligible maiden in the kingdom!"
- Mythology Gag: "Who dances in glass shoes?"
- No Indoor Voice: "I WANT A CHANCE AT HIM!" As well as the stepmother in her last few minutes onscreen.
- Of Corset Hurts: "Beauty knows no pain, girls!" This may be a nod to the girl in the first film who also fell victim to this trope.
- Oh, Crap!: During "A Lovely Night," Cinderella describes what she "supposes" the ball was like, in a detailed and accurate fashion, charming her stepfamily into joining the song... but then she tops it off with the exact same curtsey she used at the ball. This trope is written all over the stepmother's face as she puts two and two together.
- Painful Rhyme: Discussed. The Fairy Godmother rhymes "Fol-de-rol and fiddle-dee-dee, fiddley, faddley, foodle—all the dreams in the world are...dizzy in the nooodle!" Cinderella replies "That's horrible," and Godmother thinks she's referring to the couplet ("YOU try coming up with a rhyme on the spot!"), although the girl actually meant the sentiment behind it.
- Pimped-Out Dress: Cinderella's stepfamily wears these 24/7. Then, of course, there's Cinderella herself after her transformation.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Lionel seems to serve no real purpose other than to be this. ESPECIALLY when he starts to announce any member of the royal family, using their full Overly Long Name.
- Race Lift: This adaptation is well-known for its uniquely diverse main cast; Cinderella, the Fairy Godmother, stepsister Minerva, and the Queen are all played by African-American actresses, while Prince Christopher is portrayed by a Filipino-American.
- Really 700 Years Old: Some dialogue the Fairy Godmother mutters while turning the pumpkin into a coach reveals that she is over 600 years old, while Whitney Houston was only in her 30s at the time.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The stepmother gives a harsh one to Cinderella that triples with Kick the Dog and Speak Ill of the Dead."Your father was weak. He spoiled you rotten, he filled your head with silly thoughts and dreams that'll never come true. Never."
- Rule of Three: In-universe, three members of Cinderella's family try the slipper on before she does; "The Prince Is Giving A Ball" goes through three Overly Long Names (including three Embarrassing Middle Names); and both "Impossible" and the added song "The Sweetest Sounds" are sung three times. Outside of that, three of the leads are African-American, three different shoe sizes were used for the slipper (only one model was actually made of glass), and three songs were added to the score.
- Sassy Black Woman: The fairy godmother and the queen. Especially since they're played respectively by Whitney Houston and Whoopi Goldberg.
- Shirtless Scene: Prince Christopher gets one after removing his peasant disguise, while buttoning up his royal coat.
- Shout-Out: "There's Music In You" originally lacked a bridge, so the Fairy Godmother fills it by quoting Allegro, the oldest Rodgers and Hammerstein musical never to receive a screen adaptation.
- Show Some Leg: The stepmother trying to get on Lionel's good side. It doesn't work.Lionel: You know, I honestly wish there were something between us.Stepmother: Really?Lionel: Yes. A continent.(leaves)
- Squee!: After the stepmother tries on the shoe and it fits, she can't stop squealing. Until the shoe cuts her circulation off.
- Surrounded by Idiots: The stepmother appears to feel this way with regards to her daughters.
- Triumphant Reprise: Prince Christopher last sings "The Sweetest Sounds" before searching for The Girl Who Fits This Slipper. Since they've already met, he skips over all of the lines in which he yearned to meet his true love, instead simply declaring proudly that she's "waiting somewhere" for him.
- Villain Song: Well, Bernadette Peters had to sing something. The song, "Falling in Love with Love," is more of a statement of her opinion, and it's not done in a villainous manner. That may just be because it was originally written for a different show, The Boys From Syracuse, by Rodgers and Hart.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Gabrielle, the older stepsister, is actually very pretty once she gets rid of her ridiculous puffy dress and Bavarian-pretzel hairstyle, and has a suitor in Jean-Michel.
- Gabrielle is also considered attractive enough for Sebastian and Madame to believe she has a real shot with Prince Topher and hooking the two of them up is the main impetus for their scheme. Unfortunately, they have No Sparks.
- All-Loving Hero: Ella.
- Beta Couple: Gabrielle and Jean-Michel.
- Dating What Daddy Hates: Madame (the stepmother) does not approve of Jean-Michel, because he's poorer than they are and a social activist, and she has social-climbing aspirations. In fact, she disapproves so much that when she catches Gabrielle trying to sneak out with him, she kicks Gabrielle out of the house.
- Death by Adaptation: Both of Topher's parents are dead in this version and he has apparently been raised by Sebastian from a young age.
- Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Topher.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: It's revealed that the Fairy Godmother doesn't give out her magic freely. Ella earned it by being kind and friendly to "Crazy Marie" aka the Godmother in disguise. Similarly, she doesn't just go to the ball and the banquet to win over the Prince but as an opportunity to inform Topher about the injustices in the kingdom.
- Easily Forgiven: Ella prettily readily forgives Madame and Charlotte, however, this makes sense since being kind is the moral of the story.
- Evil Chancellor: Sebastian to Prince Topher. He was supposed to make sure Topher was ready to be a good, strong king, but instead he keeps him almost completely in the dark and is running the kingdom in his name. Poorly.
- Expy: Gabrielle is similar to Anastasia Tremaine as they are both the nice stepsisters of their respective families and they fall in love with lower-class men.
- Gold Digger: This was Madame, and she believes her daughters should follow her example.Madame: I married your father for love—he died, I cried. I married Cinderella's father for money—he died, I got a house.
- HeelFace Turn: When the Prince finally starts to assert his power and becomes less dependent on Sebastian, some productions show Sebastian warmly welcoming Jean-Michel into his position.
- Kick the Dog: Madame gets a lot.
- Meganekko: Gabrielle.
- Non-Human Sidekick: Ella is Friend to All Living Things and has two sidekicks (a fox and a raccoon). Subverted in that they briefly become human to be her footmen for the ball.
- Pet the Dog: The whole step-family gets one when they perform "A Lovely Night" with Ella. Only Gabrielle stays nice afterwards though.
- Puppet King: Topher starts out as a Puppet Prince—he just signs off on whatever Sebastian asks him to without reading it. At one point, he even hands over his ring of state so Sebastian can get things done more efficiently.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Topher's arc is going from a Puppet King to this, with Ella and Jean-Michel's help.
- There are many references to the 1955 film The Glass Slipper, notably Crazy Marie is an Expy of Ms. Tocquet.
- The plot is also very similar to the film version of Ella Enchanted, with the Prince being an orphan Puppet King who is unaware that his Evil Chancellor is stealing lands and rights from the people until Ella opens his eyes to the situation.
- Soapbox Sadie: Jean-Michel.
- Took a Level in Kindness: On a meta-level, this happens with Gabrielle, who's not wicked in any sense of the word—rather, she's too shy to stand up to her mother and older sister's bullying. After "A Lovely Night," she becomes Cinderella's Secret Keeper regarding the ball, and the two happily call each other "sisters" for the first time.
- Wham Shot: Ella almost loses a glass slipper, but she picks it up before Topher could get it, making this the first time Cinderella doesn't ACCIDENTALLY lose one of her glass slippers, instead leaving one behind deliberately when she leaves as a Calling Card.
Or are you wonderful because I want you?
Are you the sweet invention of a lover's dream
Or are you really as beautiful as you seem?"