A new national tour of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella is in the works for 2000-2001, and the concept includes adopting the same multicultural casting used for the hit 1997 TV production seen on "Wonderful World of Disney."
Diahann Carroll has been mentioned as a possibility for the Fairy Godmother on the tour, and the pop star Monica has also been mentioned, for the role of Cinderella. A web site promoting attractions at the Aronoff Center in Cincinnati announced Carroll in "the brand new production based on a casting concept" of the 1997 TV movie, Feb. 20-March 4, 2001.
SFX Theatricals is producing, and an announcement is expected shortly. A spokesman for The Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization said a tour is in the works but it is not yet clear if it will incorporate non-"Cinderella" Rodgers songs ("The Sweetest Sounds," "There's Music in You" and "Falling in Love With Love"), as the TV version starring Whitney Houston and Brandy did.
Musical theatre fans who know their history would delight in the possibility of Carroll being in a project that included "The Sweetest Sounds," a central theme in Rodgers' solo project as songwriter, No Strings (1962). Carroll starred in the musical with Richard Kiley. They played one of the first interracial romantic couples in a Broadway musical. It was Rodgers' first show after Hammerstein's death.
The role won Carroll a Tony Award (she tied with Anna Maria Alberghetti, of Carnival). Carroll's stage credits include the Canadian production of Sunset Boulevard and, recently, a run in New York City's The Vagina Monologues. "The Sweetest Sounds" opens the 1997 movie as a distant duet between Cinderella and the Prince, who have not yet met. Is it possible Carroll will be given a snippet of "Sweetest Sounds" for the sake of nostalgia? Will Carroll even be in it?
Speculation is premature at this point: It is not clear if the tour will simply be a nontraditional cast in the stage show (based on the original 1957 TV musical) that is licensed to stock and amateur groups hundreds of times a year.
Storyline Entertainment, Disney and ABC are not producing the tour, according to their representatives. A creative team and further credits for a national tour have not been announced, but it's certain that the property's staple songs, first heard in the TV debut in 1957, will be part of the project. Those songs include "In My Own Little Corner," "Impossible," "Ten Minutes Ago" and more.
Not content to stay in its own little corner on the TV screen, the smash 1997 ratings hit, "Cinderella," was first discussed as a stage possibility in 1999, but back then it was thought Disney might be a major player in the tour.
The TV movie used newly orchestrated and arranged versions of songs by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, first heard in their 1957 television adaptation of "Cinderella" starring Julie Andrews (and later in the 1965 version with Lesley Ann Warren).
The 1997 cast included Jason Alexander (the Valet), Veanne Cox and Natalie Desselle (Stepsisters), Victor Garber (the King), Whoopi Goldberg (the Queen), newcomer Paolo Montalban (the Prince) and Bernadette Peters (the Stepmother).
For the record, "Falling in Love With Love" is from Rodgers' The Boys From Syracuse, with lyrics by Lorenz Hart. "There's Music in You" was heard in an obscure 1953 movie, Main Street to Broadway, and was recorded by Bing Crosby. Fred Ebb provided new lyrics for the Valet to sing: a merging of the Steward's song, "Your Majesties," with the Town Crier's number, "The Prince is Giving a Ball."
-- By Kenneth Jones