This live television performance of Cinderella definitely starts with something that is unfamiliar. In fact, most of the arrangement is not what is in my head. That is because I am used to the CBS presentation with Lesley Ann Warren and Stuart Damon as Cinderella and Prince Charming. This one, however, was the beginning of the Cinderella legend as devised by the great time of Rodgers and Hammerstein. It stars Julie Andrews and Jon Cypher.
Cypher was a big surprise. The first time I recall knowing of him was when he appeared on the soap opera, General Hospital. Damon was also on that show. I am trying to recall if they were on at the same time, but I am not sure. I find that ironic in that viewers of the soap opera made a big deal out of Damon having portrayed the Prince, but I do not think anyone ever discussed Cypher having played the role first. I find myself wondering if they ever compared notes. To my surprise, Cypher was quite good. I still prefer Damon. He is totally my version of a Prince Charming. That said, Cypher has a nice singing voice and did well in the part.
This TV special is only available thanks to a black and white kinescope that is apparently all that remains of the program which was originally done in color. I believe they found it in some of the belongings of Rodgers and Hammerstein. So while there are color stills and advertising materials of the production, all we have is the black and white print. To be honest, it does not matter. The magic is still there.
I do love the strong opening with “The Prince is Giving a Ball” song, and that music is prevalent throughout the beginning of the show. It is a catchy tune, fun to sing and listen to. I have to mention the little girl who bemoans being in the second grade during some of the lamentations about the ball. I have no idea who she is, but she was cute as could be.
Another really funny moment for me is to see the King and Queen arguing over the ball and what it will cost. In fact, the entire staging of this show, including the very opening, seems pretty bold for the late 50s. I love it, though. The hardest thing for me was getting used to some of the differences between this version and the Warren/Damon one I grew up with.
Julie Andrews was wonderful as Cinderella. Her voice, as always, was beautiful and golden. Howard Lindsay and Dorothy Stickney as the King and Queen were terrific, though I am not really familiar with them other than this show. I did chuckle at Cinderella’s step-sisters, played by Kaye Ballard and Alice Ghostley. They both fit their parts wonderfully. Finally, there was Edie Adams as the Fairy Godmother. Her role is probably the most varied from the Fairy Godmother I am used to.
It is amazing how terrific this show was as it was presented live. There was only one goof that I noticed, so for live TV, that was awesome.