If the Shoe Fits


// by Emily Bailey & Jocelyn Tolbert

We’re all familiar with the story of Cinderella—the evil stepmother, the fairy godmother, the pumpkin, the prince - but one particular detail always seems to stand out in the story no matter how it’s told: the glass slippers. This delicate footwear arouses plenty of questions so we thought we’d take advantage of the June 13-18 arrival of the Broadway musical Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella and ask the head of wardrobe, Brian B. Johnson, a few questions.

Q: How long have you been doing this? How did you get your start?

A: I've been working professionally for 6 years as a wardrobe supervisor, I've also done a few off-off-Broadway assistant costume design jobs and worked in a costume shop in those years as well.  

Q: What is the glass slipper made of?

A: The glass slipper is a custom made heel that is rhinestoned and sequined. Each glass slipper has just over 1,000 Swarovski crystal rhinestones, totaling for over 2,000 rhinestones per pair.  

Q: Did your team make it? 

A: The heels were made by Weitzman shoes, and William Ivy Longs Design studio has a person who rhinestones them. Luckily, our team is only in charge of maintaining the upkeep of the rhinestones. We look them over every show to insure maximum shininess. Our Cinderella, though, does have more than one pair of glass slippers, she actually has 3 pairs each with their own purpose in the show, and there are even special light cues to light them up and make them shine brilliantly. 

Q: Do you think that Cinderella or anybody could actually walk in glass shoes? I’d think they’d break.

A: This is an interesting question, one I also always wondered about as a kid. But, after I read the original Grimm brother's fairy tale of Cinderella, it is mentioned that they are enchanted glass slippers, so the chance of them breaking would be minimal and I'd imagine them to be rather comfy too. 

Q: Why didn’t anybody else in the whole country have the same shoe size as Cinderella?

A: Going back to them being enchanted. In the book the fairy godmother tells Ella that they are made to perfectly fit her foot. I think even if someone had the same shoe size they wouldn't have her same foot shape. Also, they were enchanted just for her to wear, smart thinking on the prince's part though to just try them on every lady in the kingdom, and he didn't even know they were enchanted. It's definitely a true love that was meant to be if you ask me.

The national tour of Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella comes to the Moran Theatre at the Times-Union Center June 13 -18.