Buckle up, Gen Z—the sweetest sounds you’ve ever heard are about to stream straight into your earholes. Next week, Disney+ will drop Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella like a glass slipper right into our home streaming devices. For those of us who’ve spent years happily settling for low-quality clips on YouTube, this is major.
Back in 1997, ABC premiered Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella on its Wonderful World of Disney slot, which aired Sunday nights and presented original programming and network premieres. That’s how you knew it was fancy television, and nothing was fancier television than this.
Starring Brandy as the titular princess and Whitney Houston as her fairy godmother, Cinderella was the first time a person of color had played the classic character (in previous televised iterations of the musical, the character was played by Julie Andrews and Miss Scarlet herself, Lesley Ann Warren), but that was by no means the beginning and end of its groundbreaking representation. The film featured Filipino-American singer and universally acknowledged hottest Disney prince Paolo Montalbán, as well as Whoopi Goldberg, Victor Garber, Bernadette Peters, Jason Alexander, and Natalie Desselle-Reid (who sadly passed away in December 2020).
Goldberg, who played Montalbán’s mother, commented on the film’s “color-blind” casting in an interview with Jet Magazine in 1997. “This may be a first. It makes perfect sense because of who we are. Before, it was either all-Black or all-white. But, never a normal mix of people. This integrated cast is how the real world is. This is more normal than being part of a cast that doesn’t have any color in it. This is perfectly fine. This is how I live.”
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella will be part of Disney+’s “Celebrate Black Stories” collection; it arrives at the stroke of midnight on Friday, February 12. Watch it or turn into a pumpkin. I don’t make the rules.
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