Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella is the name of a musical written for television by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II based upon the fairy tale, Cinderella. It was produced for television three times, all of which are now available on DVD. The first version, starring Julie Andrews, first appeared on television in 1957. The second version, starring Lesley Ann Warren, first appeared on television in 1965. The third version, starring Brandy as Cinderella and Whitney Houston as the Fairy Godmother, first appeared on television in 1997. It has also been adapted for the stage.
List of songs
This list is from the original 1957 version; the 1965 and 1997 versions each added one or more songs from other Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals.
1957 television version
The 1957 version is directed by Ralph Nelson.
Production and broadcast
This version appeared as a U.S. live broadcast (except on the west coast) on March 31, 1957. It was written specifically for CBS television, enticed (as Rodgers wrote in his autobiography) by the opportunity to write for Julie Andrews, who was to play the title role. It also included a 28-piece orchestra, 20 dancers, and seven ensemble singers.
It was produced for $375,000 (very expensive for its time), and heavily promoted by its sponsors, Pepsi-Cola and the Shulton Company (then maker of Old Spice). The promotion and an appearance by Rodgers and Hammerstein on The Ed Sullivan Show the week before helped to give the telecast an alleged audience of 107 million people, the largest achieved by that time (and more than any subsequent television series episode as of 2004).
A New York Times review by Jack Gould on April 7, 1957 characterized it as "a pleasant Cinderella that lacked the magic touch." He said that the broadcast received an "extraordinary range of reactions; it was either unreservedly enjoyed, rather angrily rejected or generally approved, subject to significant reservations."
He praised Andrews as a "beguiling vision" in "lovely color video." But he complained about the book ("What possessed Mr. Hammerstein to turn the stepsisters into distasteful vaudeville clowns?"); about errors in "the most elementary kind of showmanship;" about costume ("couldn't Cinderella have been dressed in a dreamlike ball gown of fantasy rather than a chic, form-fitting number?"); about the songs ("not top-drawer Rodgers and Hammerstein"); and the staging ("cramped... excellent depth, but limited width marred the ballroom scene.") He judged the songs "reminiscent and derivative of some of their earlier successes," but praised four of them and said "In television, where original music is virtually nonexistent, these add up to quite a treat... some current [Broadway] musicals cannot boast as much melodically."
For many years, the 1957 version was thought to be lost; however, a black-and-white kinescope recording of the color telecast was re-broadcast on PBS in December 2004 as part of its Great Performances series. It was subsequently released on DVD, with a documentary including most of its original players, as well as a tape or kinescope of R & H's appearance on the Sullivan show the preceding Sunday, featuring Oscar Hammerstein II reciting one of the songs to orchestral accompaniment.
1965 television version
The 1965 re-make of the musical is directed by Charles S. Dubin; Richard Rodgers was executive producer (Oscar Hammerstein II died in 1960). Also produced for CBS, it was regularly rebroadcast well into the 1970's.
1997 television version
The 1997 re-make of the musical is directed by Robert Iscove and produced by Whitney Houston and Debra Martin Chase for Walt Disney Productions. It was one of the first broadcasts in the latest revival of The Wonderful World of Disney, on Disney-owned ABC.