THE LEADING MEN: Santino Fontana, Fit for a Prince in Broadway's Cinderella

By Brandon Voss
27 Jan 2013

Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana perform at a press event.
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

The idea of Cinderella helping the Prince is another one of Beane's twists that makes the tale less predictable and old-fashioned. "Oh, she certainly doesn't need the Prince to save her," Fontana continues. "What's wonderful is that Doug has really shaped the story to be about these two innocent young people trying to find their way. They just want to do what's right. They both keep delaying what's best for them because they're always thinking about others, which is beautiful. These are not your typical, two-dimensional fairy tale characters. They're just trying to be people, for better or worse."

Will audiences accept these new changes to an old classic? A veteran of numerous high-profile revivals, including the original 2006 Off-Broadway revival cast of The Fantasticks, Fontana remains unconcerned. "Any time you [explore] something people know, there will always be certain expectations," he warns. "But as an actor, worrying about that is kind of above my pay grade. Of course I want everyone to like our show, but my job is to tell the story in front of me and make it work to the best of my ability. Besides, everyone has different memories of Cinderella, because all three TV versions were very different. It's almost like a living work."

Despite Beane's structural changes, Fontana assures the musical's loyal subjects that the beloved story's universally resonant themes are still very much intact. "It's all about possibility," he says. "I know it sounds so corny, but it's so powerful, and it's the basis of all creativity. People grab on to that sense of hope, because it does happen: You can get what you secretly wish for. We should all keep hoping for the impossible. Sometimes we just need a great reminder to stay on track."

Hope and happy endings are especially appealing to Fontana, whose career path has been paved with some bumps and bruises: Two months after the very premature closing of the 2009 Broadway revival of Brighton Beach Memoirs, which earned him a Drama Desk Award, an onstage injury forced the actor to drop out of A View From the Bridge with Scarlett Johansson. "I've had my share of ups and downs in this crazy business, but I wouldn't change a thing," he says. "Everything that's happened, good or bad, has reminded me of what's really important and informed who I am today. What's funny is that it's helped me play the Prince in quite a lot of ways. For starters, he has a crazy amount of patience."