The men of Bad Cinderella’s ensemble share a stereotypical, Adonis-type physique—which is why they are aptly called "The Hunks." That's because the new Broadway musical takes place in the fairy-tale kingdom of Belleville, where "beauty is [their] duty." Choreographer JoAnn M. Hunter stopped by with seven of these Hunks for a Playbill exclusive performance of the number “Man’s Man,” as well as some insight into her creative process.
Watch Hunter’s choreography above, as part of Playbill’s Spring Preview video series (sponsored by Cadillac). The performance features Mike Baerga, Josh Drake, J Savage, Gary Cooper, Dave Schoonover, Ángel Lozada, and Michael Milkanin.
Bad Cinderella opened on March 23 at the Imperial Theatre. Hunter’s choreography shines alongside music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by David Zippel, direction by Laurence Connor, and a book by Emerald Fennell. The production stars Linedy Genao as Cinderella and Jordan Dobson as Prince Sebastian, with Carolee Carmello as the Stepmother and Grace McLean as the Queen.
In the context of Bad Cinderella, “Man’s Man” takes place about halfway through Act I. The audience is transported to the “den” of the Queen, which includes a palace gym full of the hottest men in town. “That’s where you meet this group of Hunks,” Hunter says. “The Queen, of course, loves her group of Hunks. She’s a little bit of a cougar.”
When the curtains open on Bad Cinderella, Prince Charming (“The Adonis of all Adonises,” Hunter quips, “The most perfect, ideal beauty in this town.”) has gone missing. Prince Sebastian, his less traditionally masculine younger brother, has big shoes (and biceps) to fill. “Sebastian doesn’t want to conform,” Hunter says. “So the idea [of 'Man’s Man'] is the men trying to tell him, ‘But your brother was the best and we try to be like him. Why can’t you be more like him? Because look at us.'”
When Hunter was selecting dancers to play the Hunks, she was searching for strength. “Not just outward strength, but inner strength,” she clarifies. “When they auditioned, I explained to them: These are men. They’re male-representing human beings. They have to look a certain way, because that’s the whole point of the piece. But they have to be [mentally] strong, because they have to understand their conviction, of believing that this is the most perfect world. Until they realize, ‘Why do we always have to conform?’”
Hunter says she hopes audiences enjoy the musical, but also that they consider why beauty standards are so ingrained in the society of Bad Cinderella, and how those same strict standards might show up in their own lives. As for her dancers, she emphasizes the importance of maintaining self care, especially when they are performing in eight shows a week.
Nevertheless, she wants them to strive for excellence. “I will push them, because I always believe they can do way more than they think they can,” Hunter says. “I think that’s most of us. We have more potential than we believe we do. So my job is to pull out that potential.”
See behind-the-scenes exclusive Playbill photos of Hunter and the Hunks below.