RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN'S CINDERELLA (1957). Director: Ralph Nelson.
This is the one and only musical written and composed by the great team of Rodgers and Hammerstein that had its premiere on television -- about 60 million people tuned in! Reportedly, the show was written specifically for Julie Andrews, who starred in this production. (There was another TV production eight years later starring Lesley Ann Warren, and a much later one with Brandy.) While Julie Andrews has never exactly been an actress who radiates much vulnerability, she's still quite good in this starring part and sings beautifully as well [21 at the time, she rehearsed this by day while appearing nightly on Broadway in My Fair Lady!] . Jon Cypher (pictured with Andrews) plays the prince and is fine; he's been a busy character actor ever since, appearing on numerous TV shows and even in Bert I. Gordon's production of The Food of the Gods (1976). Howard Lindsay and Dorothy Stickney are perfection as the King and Queen (especially when they sing and argue over what to serve 1700 guests at the prince's ball) and Ilka Chase, Kaye Ballard, and Alice Ghostley certainly score as the wicked stepmother and her two daughters. Edith (Edie) Adams makes a nice fairy godmother as well. The lilting songs include "Ten Minutes Ago," "A Lovely Night," and --prime Rodgers and Hammerstein -- "Do I Love You (Because You're Beautiful)?" A funny touch has Kaye Ballard not only flirting with one of the servants in line at the climactic wedding but even with the Prince (Hope springs eternal)!
Verdict: A real pleasure. ***1/2.