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