The Latest on Sisterella

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Though originally targeted for a fall 1997 Broadway run, Sisterella will say "Ja" before it says "Yo!"
Jimmie Wilson & Della Miles in the 1996 Pasadena Playhouse staging
Jimmie Wilson & Della Miles in the 1996 Pasadena Playhouse staging Photo by Photo by Craig Schwartz

Though originally targeted for a fall 1997 Broadway run, Sisterella will say "Ja" before it says "Yo!"

The funky, spoofy Cinderella-based African-American musical, with music, lyrics and book by Larry Hart, sold out its March-April 1996 run at Pasadena Playhouse in California and is now targeting March or April 1998 to start Broadway previews.

Michael Sande, director of marketing and public relations for the Pasadena Playhouse, told Playbill On-Line (June 18) the show just finished a six month tour of Germany and Austria, and will probably return to Berlin early in July, with Australia planned as the next stop. The Los Angeles Times had announced in May 1996 that Sisterella would come to New York in fall 1997, but Sande said the line-up of shows waiting to go into scarce Broadway theatres helped contribute to the delay.

In the musical, Sister Ella goes to court to battle her wicked stepmother Dahlia's attempts to get control of her father's $900 million estate, while the Dahlia has Ella declared insane and scheduled for a lobotomy in a mental institution -- only to be rescued by her Fairy Godfather. Hart's score contains elements of R&B, soul, disco and Gospel.

No word on whether the Pasadena cast headed by Yvette Cason and Della Miles will repeat on Broadway. Though David Simmons was credited as director in Pasadena, Hart reportedly filled that function there as well. The cast album was released under Jackson's MJJ label on May 20, 1996. Disney affiliate Miramax Films and Tribeca Productions, with Michael Jackson and partner Jerry Greenberg, are the forces behind bringing the modern-day African-American retelling of Cinderella to Broadway. Leads in the recent European tour were Rain Pryor, Della Miles, Jimmie Wilson and Wanda Houston, who may repeat in the upcoming tour dates.

Songs in the show include "I've Got The Money" for the Stepmother, the gospelly "Stand Strong," "Goin' To The Party," and the country-western "Barbecue My Chicken." ("They went nuts for that one in Germany," said spokesperson Sande.)

Director Larry Hart, not to be confused with Richard Rodgers' famous lyricist of the 1920s-40s, is a Grammy-winning Gospel composer. He's also reportedly at work on Panjam, a musical based on Peter Pan.

--By David Lefkowitz and Robert Viagas

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