Synopsis for Lew Christensen and Michael Smuin's "Cinderella"

Dublin Core


Choreography: Lew Christensen and Michael Smuin
Music: Sergei Prokofiev 
Scenic and Costume Design: Robert Fletcher
Costume Design for Cinderella, the Prince, Fairy Godmother, and the Seasons (1984): Sandra Woodall
Costumes Construction (1984): Walter Watson and Sandra Woodall
Lighting Design: Alan Adelman
Special Effects and Illusions: Parker Young
Special Scenic Consultant: Douglas Schmidt 
San Francisco Ballet/World Premiere: 1973


Cinderella's story begins in the kitchen of her home, with her thoughts turning to her family ... her father, whom she loves, her two step-sisters, Lucretia and Anastasia, who are always unkind to her, and her domineering step-mother who makes Cinderella's life quite difficult.

The two step-sisters are busily embroidering in the kitchen. They begin to quarrel over the material and their mother steps in and tears the cloth in two pieces, one for each of her daughters. Meanwhile Cinderella is seen toiling with her broom while her father looks on helplessly. The family leaves the kitchen, Cinderella is left alone. She imagines herself dancing with a handsome Prince, using her broom as a partner. She is startled from her reverie by her father, who has been watching in the background. He shows her a silhouette of her real mother. As Cinderella learns the grand court dance from her father, the two of them are temporarily transported by memories of her mother's beauty.

The dream is interrupted by an invitation from the Prince to the Royal Ball held that evening. Snatching the invitation from Cinderella, the step-mother and ugly step-sisters create an immediate uproar over what to wear to the ball. The father is ordered to the village to fetch the needed craftspeople for the transformation of the family. 

Unexpectedly, darkness overtakes the kitchen and an old hag appears, begging food and kindness. She is rejected by all but Cinderella, who goes to her trunk and gives the old hag her mother's dancing slippers. The gift is gratefully accepted and the old hag disappears up the chimney in a cloud of smoke.

The scene brightens as the town merchants arrive: a dressmaker and helpers, a wigmaker and hairdresser, a tailor, jeweler, the dance master and his accompanist. Cinderella once again shows up her awkward step-sisters with her natural ability to dance, but the dance master angrily departs when the step-mother puts an abrupt end to Cinderella's dancing.

Cinderella is once again left alone with her broom as the rest of the family file upstairs for final fittings. The old hag reappears in the kitchen as a beautiful fairy godmother, waves her wand and the rustic kitchen is transformed into an enchanted evening filled with dancing stars. The four seasons are beckoned to dance and bestow their gifts. Spring brings the glass slippers created from old ones given to the hag; Fall, an orange pumpkin; Summer, a gossamer cape; and Winter, a shimmering crown. In come the Guardians of Midnight to warn Cinderella that she must leave the ball before midnight or the magic will be reversed. The stars and seasons dance a waltz while Cinderella is transformed into a radiant beauty. She enters her pumpkin-turned-coach drawn by two white mice-turned-unicorns, and is rushed to an evening of dancing and gaiety.


The curtain rises with the Royal Ball in progress. The step-sisters arrive and are asked to dance by the two fortune-hunting suitors. The court jester arrives to entertain. The Prince is announced and he dashes into the ballroom, greets his guests and assumes the throne. Soon the stars, seasons, and fairy godmother appear to herald the arrival of Cinderella. Cinderella enters, astounding the Prince with her beauty. They proceed to dance a waltz with the stars and seasons. Cinderella dances for the Prince and he pledges his love by dancing for her. The guests leave the ballroom and Cinderella finds herself alone with the Prince. The hour grows late, the party returns to the ballroom, and as Cinderella and the Prince watch from the balcony, the great clock begins to strike midnight. Just as Cinderella remembers what her fairy godmother told her, it is too late. The fairy godmother appears and at the stroke of twelve transforms Cinderella back to her rags. Cinderella rushes out of the ballroom, loosing one of her glass slippers which the jester discovers and gives back to the Prince.


The next morning finds Cinderella back in her kitchen, asleep by the fireplace dreaming of the Royal Ball and the Prince. The step-sisters enter the kitchen looking worn and complaining of sore feet. A family fight ensues, interrupted by villagers to

spread the news of the Prince's search for the beautiful owner of the glass slipper. The Prince arrives and gives the order for the women of the household to try on the glass slipper, but to no avail. Cinderella finds the matching slipper in her trunk and is told by her father to show it to the Prince. She presents the slipper to the Prince and he asks her to become his Princess. The fairy godmother appears and once again transforms the kitchen. This time into a beautiful sunset. The Prince and Cinderella enter their enchanted coach, which takes them to their kingdom, where they live happily ever after.

From the San Francisco Ballet program, March 1984


San Francisco Ballet


1984 March




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San Francisco Ballet, “Synopsis for Lew Christensen and Michael Smuin's "Cinderella",” San Francisco Bay Area Digital Dance Archive, accessed February 24, 2024,