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Why So Many CINDERELLAs? The Fairytale Journey on Page, Stage, Screen and More!

Trace the royal evolution!

Earlier this year, it was announced that a new kind of princess is officially coming back to the stage. Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical Cinderella will premiere at The Gillian Lynne Theatre in London next year, putting an all new spin on a beloved classic.

Over the decades, hundreds of films have been made that are either direct adaptations from Cinderella or have plots loosely based on the story, which traces its roots back to ancient times. Can't keep the story straight? Need help deciphering the differences between the Rodgers and Hammerstein, Disney, and now Webber versions of the fairytale? BroadwayWorld is breaking it down below!

Ancient Inspiration

The story that we know today as Cinderella originated from ancient folk tales, with thousands of versions told throughout the world for centuries. Rhodopis, told by Greek geographer Strabo in the first century, about a Greek slave girl who marries the king of Egypt, is often thought to be the earliest known version on Cinderella's story. The Chinese story of Ye Xian from the 9th century, Le Fresne from the 12th century, tales in One Thousand and One Nights, and Vietnam's The Story of Tam and Cam are all other early examples.

In Literature

The tale then received Italian, French, and German revisions. The first written European version of Cinderella came from Giambattista Basile in 1634's Pentamerone. It was retold half a century later by Charles Perrault in Histoires ou contes du temps passé, and again by The Brothers Grimm in their folk tale collection Grimms' Fairy Tales in 1812.

Early stage

Different versions of the story have been adapted for the stage in various forms. In 1804 a pantomime premiered at London's Drury Lane Theatre. In 1820 Harlequin and Cinderella arrived at the Theatre Royal, featuring much of the modern story and music by Rossini. In 1860, the story was transformed with burlesque and rhyming couplets by Henry Byron, in Cinderella! Or the Lover, the Lackey, and the Little Glass Slipper.

Animated film-1950

Walt Disney took a crack at the classic story with what would become one of the most recognizable interpretations. Based on the Perrault version of the fairytale, it would be Disney's twelfth animated feature film. Mack David, Jerry Livingston, and Al Hoffman wrote the songs, which include "Cinderella", "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes", "Sing Sweet Nightingale", "The Work Song", "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo", and "So This is Love". Upon its release, Cinderella became the greatest critical and commercial hit for the studio since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and revived the studio following a slump during World War II. Decades later, it received two direct-to-video sequels, Cinderella II: Dreams Come True and Cinderella III: A Twist in Time. In 2018, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

Musical Adaptation- 1957

In the height of their success, Broadway composers Rodgers and Hammerstein created a musical adaptation of the tale, written for television, but later played on stage. This version, also based on the Perrault fairytale, was originally broadcast live on CBS on March 31, 1957 as a vehicle for Julie Andrews, who played the title role. It features such beloved songs as "In My Own Little Corner," "Impossible," "Ten Minutes Ago," "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful?," and "A Lovely Night." This version was seen by the largest audience in history at the time of its premiere: 107,000,000 people in the US, fully 60% of the country's population at that time.

Television Special- 1965

The Rodgers and Hammerstein version was brought to the small screen yet again almost a decade later starring eighteen year-old Lesley Ann Warren, Ginger Rogers, Celeste Holm and Stuart Damon. The new script skewed closer to the traditional tale, although nearly all of the original songs were retained and sung in their original settings. The first broadcast was on February 22, 1965, and it was rebroadcast eight times through February 1974. It became the highest-rated non-sports special on CBS until 2009, and the 50th highest-rated show of any kind during that time.

Made for TV Movie- 1997

The 1997 television remake was adapted by Robert L. Freedman and directed by Robert Iscove, with choreography by Rob Marshall. It was produced by Whitney Houston and Debra Martin Chase for Walt Disney Television and aired on November 2, 1997. This version featured a racially diverse cast, with Brandy Norwood as Cinderella, Houston as her fairy godmother, Bernadette Peters, Paolo Montalbán, Whoopi Goldberg, Victor Garber and Jason Alexander. Several songs were added, including "Falling in Love with Love" from the musical The Boys from Syracuse; "The Sweetest Sounds" from the musical No Strings; and "There's Music in You," written for the 1953 film Main Street to Broadway. Sixty million viewers watched the broadcast.

On Broadway- 2013

Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella finally arrived on Broadway at the Broadway Theatre on March 3, 2013, where it ran for 769 performances. Starring Laura Osnes, Santino Fontana and Victoria Clark, this version of the musical featured a new book by Douglas Carter Beane (based partly on Hammerstein's 1957 book), derived from the Perrault fairytale. The new book introduced several new characters and the score featured several new Rodgers and Hammerstein songs, including "Me, Who Am I?", "Now Is the Time", "The Pursuit", and "Loneliness of Evening." It was nominated for nine Tony Awards, winning one, for Best Costume Design.

In Other Musicals

The beloved princess has made appearances in several other musicals including Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Into the Woods (1987) and Zina Goldrich and Marcy Heisler's Ever After (2015).

Live-Action Film- 2015

Remade by Walt Disney Pictures half a century after the animated version, this Cinderella was directed by Kenneth Branagh and based on the 1950 film. It featured Lily James as Cinderella, and Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden, Stellan Skarsgård, Holliday Grainger, Derek Jacobi, and Helena Bonham Carter. The movie grossed over $542 million worldwide.

Live-Action Remake- 2021

Billed as a romantic musical comedy, Columbia Pictures' Cinderella will star Camila Cabello as Cinderella, Billy Porter as the Fab G, a genderless fairy godmother, Idina Menzel, Pierce Brosnan, Minnie Driver, John Mulaney and James Corden. Principal photography began in February 2020 but was suspended due to the world health crisis. How it will effect the expected release of the film, previously slated for February 2021, has not yet been announced.

Andrew Lloyd Webber Adaptation- 2021

This new musical adaptation by Andrew Lloyd Webber will be a complete reinvention of the classic fairytale- based on an original idea by Emerald Fennell, the Emmy Award nominated lead scriptwriter of the second season of international smash hit Killing Eve, with a brand new score from the legendary composer and lyrics by David Zippel. Set to premiere in Spring 2021 in London's West End, the musical will feature Carrie Hope Fletcher in the title role.


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