Pop star and actress Deborah Gibson slips back into the glass slipper of the national tour of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella July 24-Aug. 12 to complete the final three weeks of this leg of the run.
Jamie-Lynn Sigler, known as the mob daughter Meadow Soprano in the adult TV series, "The Sopranos," left the company July 1 due to health reasons. Jessica Rush has been playing the would-be princess who sings the melodies of Richard Rodgers, at the Music Hall in Dallas since July 10. Gibson begins July 24-29 at Houston's Wortham Center and will also play the Buell Auditorium in Denver, July 31-Aug. 12.
Gibson kicked off the Gabriel Barre-directed Cinderella tour Nov. 29, 2000. He co-stars remain Paolo Montalban (recreating his TV role) as the Prince, Eartha Kitt as the Fairy Godmother and Everett Quinton (crossdressing) as the evil Stepmother. Gibson made her singing and acting debut at age five in community theatre and by the age of 16 she was a hit pop singer-songwriter with the album, "Out of the Blue." Songs "Foolish Beat" and "Lost in Your Eyes" followed, and she appeared on the Broadway stage as Eponine in Les Miserables and Belle in Beauty and the Beast. She played Rizzo is Grease on a U.S. tour and in London, and toured briefly in a revival of Funny Girl.
Kitt, of course, is the nightclub siren and Tony Award nominated Broadway star of Timbuktu and The Wild Party. She signed onto Cinderella when previously-announced Diahann Carroll pulled out. Quinton is a New York favorite from The Mystery of Irma Vep.
This touring stage version of the popular TV musical is produced by NETworks Presentations LLC. The next phase of the tour begins in December in Hershey, PA, Dec. 11-16, a spokesperson confirmed. The cast has not been announced, but the Equity tour will journey on and play such venues as the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. August dates at the Wang Center in Boston have been bumped to 2002. *
Director Barre directs the newly-constructed stage version, drawing on elements of past TV and stage versions. Montalban repeats the role he played in the hit Disney TV version of the R&H musical that gave the world "Ten Minutes Ago," "Impossible" and "In My Own Little Corner."
The famed TV musical — there have been three small-screen versions — was adapted for the stage this time by Tom Briggs. Barre helmed Off Broadway's The Wild Party. In a recent issue of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization's newsletter, "Happy Talk," Briggs revealed that two Rodgers songs from other sources have been interpolated (as they were in the 1997 telepic): "The Sweetest Sounds" (with music and lyrics by Rodgers, from No Strings) and "There's Music in You" (by Rodgers and Hammerstein, from an obscure motion picture called "Main Street to Broadway").
The book for the new stage show draws on the original teleplay by Oscar Hammerstein II but the cast concept is inspired by the multicultural cast of the 1997 "Wonderful World of Disney" version, which starred pop singers Brandy and Whitney Houston.
Ken Roberson choreographs the touring production. He was assistant choreographer on Jelly's Last Jam. Designers are James Youmans (set), Pamela Scofield (costumes) and Tim Hunter (lighting), Duncan Edwards (sound), Bernie Ardia (hair) and Greg Meeh (special effects). Musical arrangements and supervision are by Barre collaborator Andrew Lippa, who wrote the score of The Wild Party for Manhattan Theatre Club and jon and jen, Off-Broadway.
The cast for the new Cinderella includes Leslie Becker (Queen), Joanne Borts, Victor Trent Cook (Lionel), Natalie Cortez, Kip Driver, Kevin Duda, Alexandra Kolb (Stepsister Joy), Jason Ma, Christy Morton, Monica Patton, Lyn Philistine, Ken Prymus (King), Christeena Michelle Riggs, Jason Robinson, Jessica Rush, Todd L. Underwood, Andre Ward, Patrick Wetzel and Natasha Williams (Stepsister Grace).
Quinton, a longtime collaborator with the late Charles Ludlam, won Obie and Drama Desk Awards for his revival of The Mystery of Irma Vep in 1999.
The 1997 TV movie had a multicultural cast — an African American Queen, a white King, a Filipino Prince — and a script and score (with several new interpolations, including "Falling in Love With Love") that were somewhat different from the classic 1957 and 1965 TV productions of the tuner. "Cinderella" was the only show R&H wrote for the small screen.
The "Wonderful World of Disney" broadcast is also different from the Hammerstein script that is licensed to stock and amateur groups several hundred times a year (itself using different interpolations).
The standout songs of the now-classic score will be intact. Several generations of musical fans grew up with such tunes as "Ten Minutes Ago," "Impossible," "The Stepsisters' Lament" and "In My Own Little Corner."
There have been changes over the years to each version of the R&H "Cinderella" project: The 1965 version included an interpolated song ("The Loneliness of Evening," cut from South Pacific) and subsequent stage versions for stock and amateur stagings have added "Boys and Girls Like You and Me," cut from Oklahoma!
The flashier 1997 version starred Whitney Houston as the Fairy Godmother and Brandy in the title role (a part previous played by Julie Andrews in 1957 and Lesley Ann Warren in 1965). A new teleplay and interpolations of "The Sweetest Sounds" (with music and lyrics by Rodgers, from No Strings), "Falling in Love With Love" (with lyrics by Lorenz Hart, from The Boys From Syracuse), "There's Music in You" (from the film, "Main Street to Broadway") and "Your Majesties"/"The Prince is Giving a Ball" (with new lyrics by Fred Ebb) were included in the new movie, which was seen by 60 million people.
Cinderella will play Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Birmingham, AL, Boston, Omaha, Jacksonville, FL, Hartford, CT, Detroit, St. Louis and San Antonio is the first three months of 2002.
— By Kenneth Jones