In watching the new “Cinderella” Blu-ray with my daughter, the awful truth dawned on me:
Cinderella’s stepmother is a murderer. Cinderella’s father didn’t die of natural causes. It’s never stated explicitly in the movie how he died. And since the movie is done from Cinderella’s point of view, it’s nothing the audience needs to know if she doesn’t know it or is explicitly told it. The Wicked Stepmother got away with the perfect crime: She killed her husband to get his money. Imagine if they have life insurance policies back then; maybe then her runway would have been long enough that she wouldn’t have pressed Cinderella into service cleaning her own house before the Ball arrived and Cinderella met the man of her dreams.
Obviously, the murder was done with two goals in mind: Don’t dirty your own hands, and don’t get caught. To that end, this nasty man-eater likely paid off someone to do the dirty deed. She’s still getting of murder by this, but she didn’t have to poison the father’s food. She couldn’t stab him or shoot him, because that would raise suspicions. A quiet poisoning leading to a heart attack would do the trick. Science and medicine weren’t significantly advanced back them for a medical examiner to have doubts as to the husband’s death. But who would do it? Obvious money would be on someone in the kitchen. They have access to the food and to the husband. And, given a big enough payment (with the husband’s own money, naturally), they have motive: Filthy lucre.
The problem is, the stepmother likes money, so she can’t afford to give it away. Plus, there’s a loose end. The kitchen help could talk. If any suspicion were ever to be raised, they might be interviewed first and squeal before she’d have the chance to silence them, or convince them to stay silent. Instead, I believe the stepmother paid off someone in the cleaning staff to do the deed.
Then, she poisoned that staff member, took the money back, and had Cinderella take over the job of the entire staff, crying about lack of money all the while as a cover story. Since the second dead person in the household is the downstairs help, nobody cares enough to be suspicious and life goes on.
It’s the perfect crime. The stepmother is a real schemer.
I suspect this will be the plot of “Wicked II”, coming to Broadway this fall. Someone check Kristen Chenoweth’s availability to play Cinderella. Maybe we can get Glenn Close to play the stepmother? Gus and Jaq can be Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick.