CINDERELLA to End on Broadway This Winter; NeNe Leakes Joins the Cast Before Closing
Producers of the Tony Award-winning musical Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella (Broadway Theatre, 1681 Broadway) -- Robyn Goodman, Jill Furman and Stephen Kocis -- announce that the actress and reality television sensation NeNe Leakes (THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA) will be the newest star to join the cast, starting November 25, when she steps into the role of Cinderella's wicked stepmother Madame.
Ms. Leakes will take over for the actress and television star Sherri Shepherd (THE VIEW), now in rehearsals prior to her 11-week, limited engagement in CINDERELLA from September 9 to Nov. 22. Like Ms. Shepherd, NeNe Leakes will play stepmother to Keke Palmer's CINDERELLA from Nov. 25 to Jan. 3, 2015. Ms. Palmer - host of the popular BET talk show JUST KEKE and star of the film A JOYFUL NOISE and the Lifetime TV film A TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL - begins performances in the musical along with Ms. Shepherd on September 9, and with Tony winner Judy Kaye as the Fairy Godmother on September 12.
The producers also announce that CINDERELLA will conclude its triumphant 2-year run on January 3, 2015. The show will have played 41 preview and 770 regular performances when it closes.
NeNe Leakes shot to stardom as a fan favorite on Bravo's highly-rated reality show, "The Real Housewives of Atlanta." Recently though, Ms. Leakes parlayed her reality success into several breakthrough performances on scripted television. She made her acting debut in the recurring role of Coach Roz Washington, on Fox's hit comedy "Glee." She guest-starred on BET's comedies, "The Game" and "Let's Stay Together" and appeared as series regular for three seasons as Rocky on Ryan Murphy's comedy series "The New Normal." Due to Leakes' versatility as a reality star, talk show host and correspondent as well as an actress, at one point, Leakes appeared on four different networks at the same time, showcasing her skills as a well-rounded talent.
Leakes made headlines earlier this year when she performed with the cast of Cirque du Soleil's Zumanity in Las Vegas. She was the first celebrity cast member in the thirty year history of the Cirque franchise's history.
The leading female roles in CINDERELLA - Cinderella, the wicked Stepmother and Fairy Godmother - have become some of the most sought-after roles on Broadway since the show began previews in January 25, 2013 and opened March 3, 2013: Laura Osnes and Victoria Clark earned Tony nominations for their performances as Cinderella and Fairy Godmother, respectively, while Tony winner Harriet Harris created the role of the wicked stepmother. The beloved television star and Emmy nominee Fran Drescher (THE NANNY) portrayed the stepmother for six months earlier this year, and Tony nominee Nancy Opel is playing the role now through September 7.
Grammy nominee and pop singing sensation Carly Rae Jepsen stepped into the glass slippers as Cinderella for four months this winter and spring, replaced by the musical's reigning princess, Paige Faure (BULLETS OVER BROADWAY), who will give her final performance in the show on Broadway on September 7 prior to playing the role on the musical's national tour, which begins in October. As well, earlier this year, Tony nominee Rebecca Luker was CINDERELLA's Fairy Godmother for several months.
In short, this roster of actresses who have depicted Cinderella, her Stepmother and Fairy Godmother share between them an impressive 24 Tony, Emmy, Grammy and Golden Globe awards and nominations.
Now in its second year on Broadway, Cinderella has played to large and enthusiastic audiences since opening on March 3, 2013 at the Broadway Theatre (1681 Broadway) and will continue delighting audiences across the country when the national tour launches in Providence, RI on October 10.
In addition to her acting credits, NeNe Leakes is also a published author and has appeared as a guest host for several talk shows that include E!'s "Live from the Red Carpet" coverage of the 61st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, "Ellen," "The Talk," "Anderson Cooper," "The Wendy Williams Show," "The Rosie Show," "The Joy Behar Show," "Entertainment Tonight," "The Insider" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live."
When Leakes is away from the cameras, she lends her time and energy, supporting various charity efforts. She is the founder of Twisted Hearts, a charity that brings awareness to the plight of domestic violence against women of all races. As a victim of domestic abuse, her mission is to offer a voice and support to assist those in need of help.
Currently appearing in Cinderella are Paige Faure as Cinderella, Joe Carroll as Prince Topher, Nancy Opel as Madame, Victoria Clark as the Fairy Godmother, Ann Harada as stepsister Charlotte, Stephanie Gibson as stepsister Gabrielle, Peter Bartlett as Sebastian, Prince Topher's mentor and Lord Chancellor, Todd Buonopane as the rebel Jean-Michel and Phumzile Sojola as Lord Pinkleton.
Cinderella has music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, a new book by Douglas Carter Beane and original book by Oscar Hammerstein II. The musical is directed by Mark Brokaw. Josh Rhodes is choreographer. Music adaptation, supervision and arrangements are by David Chase. Orchestrations are by Danny Troob. Constantine Kitsopoulos is currently music director and conductor. Casting for CINDERELLA for Broadway and the national tour is by Cindy Tolan and Adam Caldwell.
With its fresh, new take on the beloved tale of a young woman who is transformed from a chambermaid into a princess, this hilarious and romantic Cinderella combines the story's classic elements - glass slippers, pumpkin, a beautiful ball and more - with some surprise twists. More than just a pretty face with the right shoe size, the Cinderella of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical now on Broadway is a surprisingly contemporary figure living in a fairytale setting: a spirited young woman with savvy and soul, eager to develop a world view, she doesn't let her rags or her gowns trip her up in her quest for kindness, compassion and forgiveness. She not only fights for her own dreams, but makes the prince, who falls in love with her, open his eyes to the world around him and realize his dreams, too.
This spring, Cinderella added Thursday matinees to its schedule, joining two other Broadway shows - Mamma Mia! and The Phantom of the Opera - in a new initiative that offers alternative curtain times to theatergoers.
Cinderella performs Tuesdays at 7 pm; Wednesdays at 2 pm; Thursdays at 2 pm and 7:30 pm; Fridays at 8 pm; Saturdays at 2 and 8 pm and Sundays at 3 pm.
Cinderella is produced by Robyn Goodman, Jill Furman, Stephen Kocis, Edward Walson, Venetian Glass Productions, The Araca Group, Luigi Caiola & Rose Caiola, Roy Furman, Walt Grossman, Peter May/Sanford Robertson, Glass Slipper Productions/Eric Schmidt, Ted Liebowitz/James Spry, Blanket Fort Productions and is produced in association with Center Theatre Group. Charles Salameno is associate producer.