FLASH SPECIAL: In Her Own Little Corner - A CINDERELLA Celebration!
Today we are celebrating one of the most beloved special entertainment events of all time - originally a musical written specifically for television; presented live, actually - which has now been retrofitted, refigured and wholly reinvented into an entirely new experience live on Broadway byway of the fresh stage adaptation of Rodgers & Hammerstein's CINDERELLA, which opens this weekend - well before midnight, surely!
Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful?
Julie Andrews. The glass slipper. "Ten Minutes Ago". The myriad majesties of Rodgers & Hammerstein's CINDERELLA as originally presented on television, live, in 1957 are mind-boggling. Sure, today it is quite commonplace to see and hear Broadway's biggest talents writing and acting on TV - look no further than SMASH - but back in 1957 a project such as CINDERELLA was simply unprecedented. An original musical, written explicitly for television by Broadway's best and presented live, for the first time, for an audience of many, many millions - maybe even as many as 100 million? It was incredibly risky - and, as it turns out, incredibly successful. Yes, the first airing of CINDERELLA was seen by over a hundred million people and has been re-seen and subsequently loved and adored by many generations ever since. It lives on, even now, in full, on YouTube. CINDERELLA is eternal.
While the original TV broadcast starring an incomparable Julie Andrews had its own special magic, allure and charm all its own that would be - and forever will be - impossible to replicate, the subsequent TV versions were notably accomplished, as well.
Lesley Ann Warren offered up a more naïve and wide-eyed take on the dust-drenched black sheep daughter of an Evil Stepmother in the 60s, while R&B star Brandy made a major mark in the all-star 1997 Craig Zadan/Neil Meron-produced TV adaptation. Last week, Neil Meron remarked to me in our InDepth InterView (available here) about the boundary-breaking colorblind casting, "Whoopi Goldberg was married to Victor Garber who had a Filipino son [Paolo Mantalban]. Bernadette Peters was the Wicked Stepmother who had one daughter who was white and one daughter that was African American. Jason Alexander was the Major Domo. And, of course, there was Whitney Houston and our wonderful Cinderella, Brandy." Jason Alexander agreed (full interview here), recalling, "I was a big fan of the colorblind casting of it... the scene where I kind of just lost it laughing, though - I just couldn't make heads or tails of it all - was when I was trying the glass slipper on all the girls of the kingdom to find Cinderella and they had black girls, white girls, Asian girls, you-name-it - everybody. I just started to crack up laughing - I said, 'I understand that race and color don't matter in this world, but we all saw that Cinderella was black! Why am I trying these shoes on all these white girls and Asian girls too? She was black!'," he said with a laugh. "I just couldn't understand it! But, then, when I saw the finished product I realized what they were doing and I said, 'Aww, this is great.'" A great new vision for CINDERELLA for a whole new generation to enjoy.
Since then, so, too, have other actresses had their way with the part - Debbie Gibson, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Lea Salonga and the ladies of both Japan's Morning Musume and the all-female Takarazuka theatrical troupe to name but a few. That's a lot of slippers!
Though CINDERELLA possesses a score beloved around the world for its melodic richness and wealth of memorable musical moments, it has never played Broadway until now. The New York City Opera staged CINDERELLA in 1993 and 1995 and a 2000 national tour ended up at Madison Square Garden in 2001, starring THE SOPRANOS star Jamie-Lynn Sigler and the legendary Eartha Kitt, but Sunday's opening night will be the first time her slippers have actually stepped foot on a Broadway stage. Of course, CINDERELLA has also found much success since 1957 across the pond, with a hit London Coliseum production in 1958, as well as successful showings in Australia and throughout Asia.
Yet, the new Broadway version is its own animal - this CINDERELLA features an entirely new, politically-charged book by Douglas Carter Beane as well as direction by Mark Brokaw. Broadway leading lady Laura Osnes has some mighty large slippers to fill, for sure - but, as all of us who have been following her rise to the top ranks are acutely aware, she has what it takes and then some.
It's a long journey from the fireplace to the pumpkin carriage to the steps of the palace for Cinderella, so it seems befitting that it would take nearly sixty years for CINDERELLA to finally make it from TV to the Broadway stage - and now she has. And there she will stay - hopefully, happily ever after.
Now, that definitely calls for "A Waltz For A Ball"!
Dame Julie Andrews to Lesley Ann Warren to Brandy, Whitney Houston and Bernadette Peters on TV all the way to Laura Osnes, Victoria Clark, Santino Fontana, Harriet Harris and company on Broadway today, this clip collection covers the storied half-century-plus legacy of the beloved family staple all the way from the ingenuous original TV production in 1957 to the 1965 and 1997 versions to the 2000 national tour and beyond; and, now, Broadway at long, long last - that's a whole lot of pumpkins!
So, let us begin by putting our various Cinderellas side-by-side in order to reveal what makes each of these actresses' takes on the classic character so entertaining and enjoyable to experience and put a pin-spot focus on her well-remembered solo, "In My Own Little Corner".
First up, here is the original Cinderella for whom the role was written, Dame Julie Andrews.
Sweet and shy, Lesley Ann Warren performs the score's cherished Cinderella showpiece in this endearing clip.
Compare and contrast to enjoy Brandy's uniquely compelling cover of the impossibly pretty tune.
Now, sample Broadway's own Cinderella, Laura Osnes, giving over to the rich Rodgers & Hammerstein song long before she actually essayed the role onstage in this rare live capture.
Experience the entire black-and-white March 31, 1957 broadcast of CINDERELLA, starring Julie Andrews, below.
Lesley Ann Warren and Stuart Damon perform "Ten Minutes Ago" in this clip from the 1965 telecast, the first to be presented in color.
Recognizable star Celeste Holm joins Lesley Ann Warren for a reprise of "In My Own Little Corner" from the same production.
Next, see the showstopping "Stepsisters' Lament" from Disney's 1997 CINDERELLA.
Enjoy Paolo Montalban and Brandy on one of the lush score's many romantic highpoints, "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful?"
Also from the 1997 version, here is iconic pop legend Whitney Houston joining Brandy for a duet of "Impossible/It's Possible".
Whitney Houston sings a splendid song included especially for the 1997 version of CINDERELLA, "There Is Music In You".
View the trailer for the 2000 national tour stage version of CINDERELLA starring Eartha Kitt and Deborah Gibson (and, later, Jamie-Lynn Sigler). "Call before midnight", indeed!
Experience Lea Salonga's take on the title role in CINDERELLA - complete with that golden vocal instrument we all adore - with this montage of clips from the hit 2008 Asian tour.
Lastly and most importantly, take in Laura Osnes, Victoria Clark, Santino Fontana, Harriet Harris and company in all their glory in this extensive, exclusive BroadwayWorld TV montage of clips from the new Broadway production of CINDERELLA that opens Sunday night.
As a bonus, check out this particularly unique production in the form of this complete filmed performance of a Japanese CINDERELLA starring girl group Morning Musume and the internationally renown Takarazuka theatrical troupe.
So, what adaptation of Rodgers & Hammerstein's CINDERELLA happens to be your favorite of all? Is Dame Julie Andrews the belle of all balls or does Lesley Ann Warren warm your heart most? Plus, does Brandy more than deliver or what?! What dynamic divas, all! Perhaps you are a fan of even more non-traditional takes on the property, as seen in the Japanese production. Whomever is your favorite, Broadway's one and only Cinderella is the charming, versatile and charismatic Laura Osnes - and Victoria Clark the daffy, guiding (always from above) Fairy Godmother - and may she continue to reign, ten minutes ahead and beyond. It's possible!
Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg, Disney, etc.