Whitney & Brandy in Cinderella
IT is not the story of Cinderella that Baby Boomers grew up watching, yet it is a fairy tale that will be well-loved and with which all ages and ethnicities can identify.
In the updated version of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella that airs November2on ABC, singing sensation Brandy stars as the mistreated young woman who, with the help of her Fairy Godmother, in this case superstar singer/actress Whitney Houston, is transformed into a beautiful princess who captures the eye and heart of the Prince, portrayed by Paolo Montalban, who was born in the Philippines.
To round out this multicultural cast, Whoopi Goldberg plays the Queen; Victor Garber, a noted White actor, portrays the King; and Bernadette Peters is the Wicked Stepmother who bullies and belittles Cinderella while giving preferential treatment to her own daughters, portrayed by Natalie Desselle, who appeared with Halle Berry in B.A.PS., and Veanne Cox, a White actress. Also among the talented, multiracial cast is Jason Alexander, of Seinfeld fame, who portrays the Prince's valet.
This updated version of the classic tale of sibling rivalry, love at first sight and beauty within will mark Houston's debut as executive producer for her own BrownHouse Productions.
"My dream is that this Cinderella will touch every
child and the child in every adult," says Debra Martin Chase, executive vice
president of BrownHouse who is also executive producer of the feature. Chase adds that she
and Whitney both loved Lesley Ann Warren's Cinderella as children. "But as we grew
up, we began to think what it might have meant to us as children to see our images
reflected in these fairy tales," says Chase. "That would
And that is exactly what Whitney as the Fairy Godmother helps young Cinderella to learn-that through positive thinking and believing in yourself, "impossible" things can happen.
It was 40 years ago, in 1957, that the original Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella aired on television. It was especially written for and starred Julie Andrews, and it attracted more than 107 million viewers. Lesley Ann Warren starred in the 1965 version, which became a regularly repeated television favorite.
Theatrical producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, also
executive producers for Cinderella, suggested that Whitney take on the classic and
well-loved story after she approached them about a possible project. While she originally
intended to star in the title role, she changed her mind as years passed while other
career opportunities pushed the project to the back burner. "I can't really do this
because I don't feel that I'm young enough to play
Whitney immediately called Brandy, who recalls being
overjoyed with the opportunity to portray the lead role in her favorite childhood fairy
tale. "I dropped the phone and I ran in the room screaming to my Mom," she
recalls. "It's a fairy tale, really. I'm still waiting for someone to pinch me."
Brandy, who is 18 and a freshman at Pepperdine University, stars on the popular television
show, Moesha, and will release her second album early
The snazzy new version of Cinderella features beautiful
costumes, elaborate dance scenes and, of course, plenty of music. "The music is so
gorgeous," says executive producer Chase. "We retained the classic nature of the
music but contemporized the rhythms and beats. You'd think it was written yesterday."
Houston and Chase say the ultimate message in their Cinderella is that African-American girls and women are princesses just as much as White girls and those of other ethnicities, and that they too can fulfill their dreams.
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