In this enchanting musical delight from the legendary team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, beautiful young Cinderella (Julie Andrews) finds her life of drudgery at the hands of her stepmother and two wicked sisters changed forever in one evening, thanks to a fairy godmother and a handsome prince. Lost for years, this first television production of this enduring classic remains a rollicking, tune-filled delight for young and old alike! One of the most beloved entertainers of all time, Academy Award«-winner Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music) appeared in theaters this year in the smash hits Shrek 2 and The Princess Diaries 2. The much-revered musical team of Rodgers & Hammerstein produced such family favorites as The King and I, The Sound of Music, Carousel, South Pacific, State Fair and more! One of home video's most highly requested titles, Cinderella has been officially unavailable since its initial airing on March 31, 1957! This single performance spectacular was viewed by over 115 million people, a television milestone! Musical performances include beloved favorites "In My Own Little Corner," "Impossible" and "Do I Love You (Because You're Beautiful)!" In 1957, Broadway's reigning songwriters and Broadway's brightest new star joined forces to create a new musical version of Cinderella; it's one-night-only broadcast on CBS-TV was viewed by more than 115 million people - the largest audience in the history of the planet! - and an instant legend was born. Julie Andrews, the toast of Broadway for her performance in My Fair Lady, played the title role, joined by a stellar cast of Broadway and television all-stars. Providing a new take on the timeless tale as well as a bounty of beautiful ballads, comedy numbers and waltzes, was the team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, already at the top of their game thanks to such musicals as Oklahoma, South Pacific and The King and I. Though Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella has gone through several TV remakes and hundreds of stage productions, the original, magical version vanished after its initial broadcast, never to be seen again. Until now.
The DVD era has unearthed another treasure. For the first time ever, Julie Andrews's performance in the title role of the original 1957 television production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella
is available to the public on home video. Cinderella
was created as a Broadway-style television production with an original score from the creators of Oklahoma!
, featuring such songs as "In My Own Little Corner," "Impossible," "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful," and "Stepsisters' Lament." Cast in the title role was the 21-year-old Andrews, at the time starring on Broadway in My Fair Lady
(another Cinderella story of sorts), and the cast was filled out by a talented bunch of stage veterans (including Kaye Ballard, Edie Adams, Dorothy Stickney, and Stickney's husband, writer Howard Lindsay). On March 31, 1957, a then-record 120 million homes saw the program as it was broadcast, live and in color, but it was preserved only in black-and-white kinescope, i.e., by aiming a camera at a monitor during the broadcast. While this version probably looks better than we have any right to expect, the picture is still fuzzy black-and-white, which makes it a tougher sell for kids than the later color versions, 1965 with Lesley Anne Warren
and the 1997 Disneyized version
. But give older kids (say, 8 or so) credit for being able to look past the black-and-white picture and primitive effects and enjoy the charming songs, the excellent performances, and the prospect of seeing one of their favorite actresses play one of their favorite princesses.
Fortunately, the DVD has also received the attention it deserves, with a new introduction by Andrews, a 20-minute featurette about the production, including interviews with many of the principals; Rodgers and Hammerstein's appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show a week before the broadcast; and a gallery of color photos of the production as well as promotional material, which included paper dolls of Andrews. --David Horiuchi