“What do you do when a dream becomes a lie?” is the central question of “When Cinderella Dies”, the latest single off 21st Century World (2017) by singer-songwriter Bruce Sudano. Produced by Mike Montali (lead singer of Hollis Brown), the song is among the highlights on Sudano’s sixth, self-penned solo album. Director Katherine Paige renders the story to haunting effect through glimpses of insidiously surreal imagery, glued together by Audra Bryant’s powerful dance performance.
From the moment Sudano sings, “He left her standing on the side of the road. No destination, nowhere to go”, he ushers listeners into a world where the promise of forever shatters into sharp-edged pieces. The song stems from his experience meeting women whose lives were torn by husbands and partners who abandoned them without question or reason. He explains, “I chose ‘When Cinderella Dies’ for the single because it might be the most radio-friendly song on the album, but mostly because I really want to highlight the epidemic of single motherhood and, at the same time, show these women some love and respect.”
Like his previous video for “Coney Island Days”, Sudano sought a fresh perspective in translating his song to film. He continues, “I’m always on the lookout for young talented filmmakers and, because of the song’s subject matter, I really wanted a woman’s vision and touch. I met Katherine Paige through a recording engineer friend in NYC and we hit it off right away. I sent Katherine the song, we had a couple of conversations, and she came up with the idea of it being a dance.”
Choreographer Andrew Hodge crafted a piece that spotlights the protagonist’s will to survive, exemplified by Audra Bryant’s solo. “Audra was a perfect choice because not only is she beautiful and graceful but she brought a strength and physicality to the piece which reflects the type of woman I’m writing and singing about in the song,” says Sudano. In the lyrics, the character wonders if she’ll ever love again. Bryant’s performance leaves little doubt that she’ll prevail even in the midst of uncertainty.
While Bryant’s dance is shrouded mostly in darkness, save for one single light, Paige intersperses quick cuts to several scenes that underscore the question mark in Sudano’s lyrics. Blazing fires and stark landscapes, a terrifyingly large wave crashing ashore and a faceless figure lurking in the woods, are alternately eerie and unnerving. The images linger long after the screen fades to black.
“Katherine had a clear and immediate understanding of how she saw the video, the feel and look, along with the ability to implement her ideas,” says Sudano. “I’d love to work with her again.” In the meantime, “When Cinderella Dies” stands as one of the strongest ventures Sudano has ever made in bringing his songs to the screen.