Cinderella (1997 film)
|Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella|
|Directed by||Robert Iscove|
David R. Ginsburg
|Written by||Robert L. Freedman
Oscar Hammerstein II
|Music by||Richard Rodgers
Oscar Hammerstein II
|Release date||November 2, 1997|
|Running time||88 min|
Cinderella is a 1997 American romantic musical telefilm produced by Walt Disney Television. The film stars Brandy, Whitney Houston, Paolo Montalban, Bernadette Peters, Whoopi Goldberg, Victor Garber and Jason Alexander. It is a re-make of the Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella television movie musical, and the only one of the three versions to be shot on film. It was adapted by Robert L. Freedman and directed by Robert Iscove, with choreography by Rob Marshall, and was produced by Whitney Houston and Debra Martin Chase for Walt Disney Productions. It was part of a revival of The Wonderful World of Disney series, on Disney-owned ABC, and aired on November 2, 1997.
Cinderella's Fairy Godmother (Whitney Houston) explains that nothing is impossible in this magical, mystical realm. In the village, Cinderella (Brandy) struggles under the weight of the numerous gaudy purchases of her imperious Stepmother (Bernadette Peters) and her spiteful and envious Stepsisters Minerva (Natalie Desselle-Reid) and Calliope (Veanne Cox). Cinderella's imagination wanders ("The Sweetest Sounds"). Disguised as a peasant, Prince Christopher (Paolo Montalban) strolls through the marketplace. Cinderella is nearly crushed by the royal carriage, searching for missing royalty, but she is saved by the Prince's heroic intervention and is immediately charmed by his sincere, direct nature, just as he is drawn to her naive honesty and purity. When they begin talking to each, the Prince expresses his wanting to get to know Cinderella better, with her seeming not so keen, until both realise their mutual dislike of their sheltered lives. Her Stepmother scolds Cinderella for talking to a stranger, and the Prince reluctantly returns to the palace, but expresses that he hopes to see her again.
Upbraided by his frantic loyal valet Lionel (Jason Alexander) for his clandestine venture into the village, the Prince tries to explain his sense of isolation and sadness. His mother Queen Constantina (Whoopi Goldberg) is making preparations for a ball where he is to select a suitable bride from all the eligible maidens in the kingdom. The Prince wishes to fall in love the old-fashioned way, and his father King Maximilian (Victor Garber) understands, but the Queen will not listen, and Lionel is dispatched to proclaim that "The Prince is Giving a Ball." Meanwhile, the Stepmother, determined to see one of her graceless, obnoxious and self-indulgent daughters chosen as the Prince's bride at the ball, plans their big night. Cinderella wonders if she, too, might go to the Prince's ball. Finding the idea humorous, Stepmother reminds Cinderella of her lowly station and warns against dreams of joy, success and splendor. Disappointed, Cinderella dreams of a world away from her cold and loveless life ("In My Own Little Corner").
While the preparations for the ball are underway, the Prince confronts his parents, who refuse to cancel it. Using his diplomatic skills, Lionel creates a compromise between the Prince and his parents: the Prince goes to the ball, but if a fitting bride is not selected, then the Prince may seek his true love in his own way. At the same time, thinking about her own lost opportunities, Stepmother drills itchy Minerva and snorting Calliope on royal etiquette and tricks to impress the Prince, vowing that one of them will snare him. As Cinderella questions the meaning of love and romance, Stepmother reminds the girls that going to the ball has nothing to do with finding love, but everything to do with getting a husband by any means necessary ("Falling in Love With Love"). Stepmother, Minerva and Calliope depart for the palace in their garish gowns.
Responding to Cinderella's tears, the beautiful Fairy Godmother appears and encourages Cinderella to start living her dreams ("Impossible"). She transforms a pumpkin into a gilded carriage, rats into a coachman and footmen, mice into regal horses and adorns Cinderella in a gorgeous gown, a bejeweled tiara and glass slippers. The Fairy Godmother cautions Cinderella that magic spells have time limits, and so Cinderella must leave the palace before the stroke of midnight. Cinderella finally begins to believe "It's Possible". At the ball, Lionel dutifully delivers eligible maidens to the Prince on the dance floor, and Stepmother fiendishly schemes behind the scenes on behalf of her daughters. The Prince is unimpressed by Minerva, who breaks out in an itchy rash, and Calliope, who snorts uncontrollably at everything the Prince says.
Cinderella appears at the top of the staircase, and the Prince has eyes only for her. Soon they are waltzing together ("Ten Minutes Ago"), as the "Stepsisters Lament" over their bad luck. The King and Queen are intrigued by this mysterious princess. Embarrassed by questions about her background, Cinderella escapes to the garden in tears, where Fairy Godmother magically appears for moral support. Reunited again, Cinderella and the Prince wonder, "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful?" Just as they share their first kiss, the tower clock begins to strike midnight. Cinderella flees, leaving behind a single clue on the steps to the palace: a sparkling glass slipper.
Stepmother and the Stepsisters return home telling exaggerated stories about their glorious adventures with the Prince. They speak in envious tones of a mysterious "Princess Something-or-other" who, they concede, also captured the Prince's attention. Cinderella "imagines" that her evening at the ball was "A Lovely Night", but through this, Stepmother realizes that she was the princess. She coldly reminds Cinderella that she is common and should stop dreaming about a life she will never have. In the face of such cruelty, Cinderella goes outside to pray. Her Fairy Godmother advises her to share her feelings with the Prince.
Meanwhile, Lionel and the heartbroken Prince seek the maiden who lost the glass slipper, but none of the endless supply of eligible female feet in the kingdom measure up. The Prince and Lionel finally arrive at the Stepmother's cottage. The daughters and even Stepmother try to fit their feet into the delicate slipper, but to no avail. As the dispirited Prince prepares to leave, he sees Cinderella, who had decided to leave and has her baggage trampled by the royal coach. He recognizes her and, knowing that he has finally found his true love, places the slipper on her foot: it fits.
Cinderella and the Prince marry under the approving eye of King Maximilian and Queen Constantina. Fairy Godmother blesses the couple with the message that "There's Music in You" as they are cheered by their joyful royal subjects. The gates of the palace slam shut on the Stepmother and Stepsisters, left outside as the Prince and his new Princess start their lives of "happily ever after". Then the film ends and the credits begin to roll.
- Brandy – Cinderella
- Whitney Houston – Fairy Godmother
- Paolo Montalban – Prince Christopher
- Bernadette Peters – Cinderella's stepmother
- Natalie Desselle-Reid – Minerva, Cinderella's stepsister
- Veanne Cox – Calliope, Cinderella's stepsister
- Whoopi Goldberg – Queen Constantina, the Prince's mother
- Victor Garber – King Maximillian, the Prince's father
- Jason Alexander – Lionel, the Prince's butler and valet
Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella was a co-production of Walt Disney Television, Citadel, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (Storyline Entertainment) and Whitney Houston's production company BrownHouse, labeled as "Walt Disney and Whitney Houston present".
This was the third version of the musical; the original was broadcast in 1957 and there was another version in 1965. According to news reports, "Disney spent roughly $12 million to produce Cinderella -- more than three times the usual budget on a made-for-TV movie." The cast is "multi-cultural...Every family is a racially blended family." For example, "Cinderella (Brandy, who is African-American), has a white stepmother,...a white stepsister,...and a [sic] African-American stepsister."
Several songs were added to this version. "The Sweetest Sounds" from Rodgers' No Strings, was added, sung by Cinderella and the Prince. "There's Music in You," written by Rodgers and Hammerstein for the 1953 film Main Street to Broadway, was sung as the finale by the Fairy Godmother.
The New York Times explains: "To show the stepmother as not just an evil harridan but the product of bitter experience, the team proposed "Falling in Love With Love," which Rodgers wrote with his first partner, Lorenz Hart, for The Boys From Syracuse...'We were pretty much against it until they cast it, and then we knew that Bernadette would be able to put a different kind of spin on it,' said the composer's daughter, Mary Rodgers. In the new show, Ms. Peters sings the song to her daughters, warning them not to confuse the emotional notion of love with the commercial concept of marriage."
When Whitney Houston signed on to the film, she was listed as producer and in the role of Cinderella. However, she later asked Brandy to audition for the role of Cinderella, saying "I'm already 33 years old, and I want you to play Cinderella [...] someone who probably had a lot more energy and who was Cinderella to me...". Brandy only agreed to do the part if Houston played her fairy godmother, because she was her "idol".
The television film was the #1 show of the week, with over 60 million viewers. It became the highest-rated TV musical "in years".
The television musical was a hit with audiences, but received mixed reviews from critics. Theatre historian John Kenrick called it a "hideous desecration" of the musical. Caryn James, writing in the New York Times praised the performers: Montalban has "an old-fashioned luxurious voice"; Jason Alexander "provides comic relief"; Goldberg "winningly blends royal dignity with motherly meddling"; Peters "brings vigor and sly comedy". She commented that the musical "was always a pumpkin that never turned into a glittering coach... the songs are lesser Rodgers and Hammerstein... it doesn't take that final leap into pure magic. Often charming and sometimes ordinary, this is a cobbled-together Cinderella for the moment, not the ages." Also she stated that lead actress Brandy "As Disney's Cinderella for the 90's is amazingly good." She also addressed the multi-racial cast: "There is no cause to wonder why one stepsister is black and one white. The entire kingdom is blissfully multiethnic, with a black queen in Ms. Goldberg, a white king in Victor Garber and the Philippine-born Paolo Montalban as their son. (The fact that this racial utopia exists in a fairy tale only emphasizes its distance from reality.)" Other critics praised the presentation. The Atlanta Journal and Constitution wrote: "Grade: A, a version both timely and timeless." The San Diego Union-Tribune agreed: "this version has much to recommend it." An encore broadcast on Valentine's Night 1998 drew another 15,000,000 viewers." Positive aspects of the movie according to O'Gorman are "a multi-ethnic cast, the addition of two new songs and a hip attitude." Bhob Stewart from the All Movie Guide referred to this adaption as "rainbow Cinderella".
Musical numbers 
- "Prologue" – Whitney Houston
- "Overture" – Orchestra
- "The Sweetest Sounds" – Brandy & Paolo Montalbán
- "The Prince is Giving a Ball"/"Your Majesties" – Jason Alexander, Whoopi Goldberg, Bernadette Peters, Veanne Cox, Natalie Desselle-Reid
- "In My Own Little Corner" – Brandy
- "Falling in Love with Love" – Bernadette Peters, Veanne Cox & Natalie Desselle-Reid
- "In My Own Little Corner" (reprise) – Brandy
- "Impossible" – Brandy & Whitney Houston
- "It's Possible" – Brandy & Whitney Houston
- "Ten Minutes Ago" – Brandy & Paolo Montalbán
- "Stepsisters' Lament" – Veanne Cox & Natalie Desselle-Reid
- "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful?" – Paolo Montalbán & Brandy
- "A Lovely Night" – Brandy, Veanne Cox, Natalie Desselle-Reid & Bernadette Peters
- "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful?" (reprise) – Whoopi Goldberg & Paolo Montalbán
- "Finale Ultimo" – Whitney Houston
- "There's Music in You" – Whitney Houston
- Art Directors Guild – Excellence in Production Design Award, Variety or Awards Show, Music Special or Documentary (Winner)
- Outstanding Art Direction for a Variety or Music Program (Winner)
- Outstanding Choreography (nomination)
- Outstanding Costume Design for a Variety or Music Program (nomination)
- Outstanding Directing for a Variety or Music Program (nomination)
- Outstanding Hairstyling for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (nomination)
- Outstanding Music Direction (nomination)
- Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special (nomination)
- Outstanding Lead Actress in a Television Movie or Mini-Series – Whoopi Goldberg (nomination)
- Outstanding Lead Actress in a Television Movie or Mini-Series – Brandy (nomination)
- Outstanding Television Movie or Mini-Series (nomination)
- Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television – Jason Alexander (nomination)
- Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television – Bernadette Peters (nomination)
- Writers Guild of America Award – Children's Script (nomination)
- "Whitney Houston and Brandy Star in TV Movie 'Cinderella'"Jet, Nov 3, 1997, pp. 44-47
- "Background On Rodgers & Hammerstein’s 'Cinderella'" rnh.com, accessed February 15, 2011
- Herald Wire Services. "Cinderella Conjures Up High Ratings For ABC", The Miami Herald, November 5, 1997, LIVING; p.3D
- Purdom, Todd S. "Television;The Slipper Still Fits, Though the Style Is New", The New York Times, November 2, 1997, Section 2; p. 35; Column 1; Arts and Leisure Desk
- Ford, Elizabeth and Mitchell, Deborah C."Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella Redux (1997)" The Makeover in Movies: Before and After in Hollywood Films, 1941-2002, McFarland, 2004, ISBN 0-7864-1721-8, pp. 45-47
- "Articles & Interviews; Adding More To Cinderella's Score? It's Possible!, October 1, 1997, Volume 5, Issue 1, Fall" rnh.com, accessed February 15, 2011
- A Cinderella Story Featurette: Hosted by Bernadette Peters (Available on the DVD)
- "Articles & Interviews, "It's Possible: 60 Million Viewers Go To The Ball With Cinderella", Volume 5, Issue 2, Winter, January 1, 1998". rnh.com, accessed February 15, 2011
- Television Reviews musicals101.com, accessed August 11, 2009
- James, Caryn. "The Glass Slipper Fits With a 90's Conscience", The New York Times, October 31, 1997, p. E29
- Kloer, Phil. "Cinderella combines best of old and new", The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, November 2, 1997, p. 01K
- Laurence, Robert P. "A girl, a prince, a ball, a slipper: Don't be too demanding, enjoy it", The San Diego Union-Tribune, November 2, 1997, p. TV WEEK-6
- "Show History". Cinderella. R&H Theatricals. Retrieved 2009-01-29.