In the village square, the Town Crier proclaims: "The Prince Is Giving a Ball" to celebrate Prince Christopher's 21st birthday. The ladies of the kingdom are thrilled at the prospect of meeting him. Cinderella, whose father has died, takes care of the home of her ill-tempered and selfish stepmother and stepsisters. She carries all of their shopping parcels for them, and when they return home, all three order Cinderella about. Left alone in her corner near the fire, she dreams of living an exotic life as a princess or anything other than a servant ("In My Own Little Corner"). Meanwhile, the King and Queen get ready for the big celebration ("Royal Dressing Room Scene") and the servants discuss the planning for the feast ("Your Majesties"). They hope that their son will find a suitable bride, but the Prince is a bit apprehensive about meeting all the eager women of the kingdom. The Queen is touched by overhearing the King's discussion with his son and tells him she loves him ("Boys and Girls Like You and Me" [sometimes omitted, not sung in any of the telecasts]).
As Cinderella's stepsisters get ready for the Ball, hoping that they will catch the Prince's eye, they laugh at Cinderella's dreams. After they leave Cinderella imagines having gone with them ("In My Own Little Corner" (reprise)). Cinderella's Fairy Godmother appears and is moved by Cinderella's wish to go to the Ball. She transforms Cinderella into a beautifully gowned young lady and her little mouse friends and a pumpkin into a glittering carriage with footmen ("Impossible; It's Possible"); Cinderella leaves for the Ball.
Cinderella arrives at the palace at 11:30; before she enters, her Godmother warns her not to stay past midnight. The Prince is bored by the attention of all the young ladies with whom he has had to dance, including the stepsisters. Cinderella's grand entrance immediately attracts everyone's attention and intrigues the Prince. They dance together and instantly fall in love ("Ten Minutes Ago"). Seeing the Prince with a beauty whom they do not recognize, the stepsisters ask why he wouldn't prefer a "usual" girl like them ("Stepsisters' Lament"). As the Prince and Cinderella dance he declares his love for her ("Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful?"). As they embrace, the clock strikes midnight and Cinderella flees before the magic wears off, but in her haste she leaves behind a glass slipper.
The next morning, Cinderella's stepmother and stepsisters reminisce about the Ball and find that Cinderella is very intuitive about what it must have been like going to the Ball ("When You're Driving Through the Moonlight") and dancing with the Prince ("A Lovely Night"). Meanwhile, the Prince is searching for the woman with whom he danced and who fled so quickly from the Ball. One of the royal guards tries the slipper on all the women of the kingdom ("The Search"). At Cinderella's house, the slipper will not fit any of the ladies. Cinderella's stepmother tries to steer the guard away from Cinderella, but she is not home; she is hiding in the Palace garden. The guard returns to the palace garden and informs the Prince that he has not found the missing girl. The guard then sees Cinderella hiding and places her under arrest. Prodded by the Fairy Godmother, he tries the slipper on Cinderella. It fits, and the Prince is called back to the garden where he recognizes his beloved ("Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful?" (reprise)). Cinderella and the Prince marry.