Original cast members Brandy & Whoopi Goldberg, plus Billy Porter, Todrick Hall, Jade Jones reflect on impact of film
√ Following news special, The Wonderful World of Disney will air ‘Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella’ for first time on broadcast television in more than two decades
ABC News Studios will air “Cinderella: The Reunion, A Special Edition of 20/20” on Tuesday, Aug. 23 (8 p.m. EDT), on ABC and stream the next day on Hulu. The 25th anniversary celebration of “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella” will feature members of its all-star cast: Brandy, Whoopi Goldberg, Paolo Montalban, Victor Garber, Bernadette Peters, Jason Alexander and Veanne Cox. Following the news special, The Wonderful World of Disney will air, for the first time on broadcast television in more than two decades, a presentation of the original film (9-11 p.m. EDT), which is available to stream on Disney+.
ABC stated, “The classic Disney live-action film marked a groundbreaking moment in television history, introducing America’s first Black Cinderella (Brandy) and Fairy Godmother (Whitney Houston). The ABC News Studios reunion special explores how the revolutionary made-for-television musical expanded society’s view of the term ‘princess,’ and includes interviews with original cast members, as well as rare behind-the-scenes footage with Whitney Houston.”
The one-hour program, airing during Disney’s World Princess Week, also dives into the film’s positive impact on representation in Hollywood and features interviews with stars who share a connection to the project, including Tony, Grammy and Emmy award-winning actor and singer Billy Porter, who played the gender-neutral fairy godmother, Fabulous Godmother, in the 2021 Amazon Original “Cinderella” reimagining; actress Jade Jones, who plays Belle in the off-Broadway tour of “Beauty and the Beast”; and singer-songwriter and choreographer Todrick Hall, a “Cinderella” superfan who has drawn inspiration from the film throughout his career.
“Cinderella: The Reunion, A Special Edition of 20/20” features interviews with the original production team from “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” including producers Debra Martin Chase and Neil Meron, and costume designer Ellen Mirojnick.
“We’re delighted that the 25th anniversary of this landmark incarnation of ‘Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella’ is being celebrated on its original network,” said Imogen Lloyd Webber, SVP at Concord Theatricals, on behalf of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization. “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s unforgettable score is truly timeless – still enchanting listeners 80 years after their partnership began, and 65 years since their ‘Cinderella’ first charmed the largest audience in television history.”
About ‘Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella’
“Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella” stars Brandy in the title role and Houston as “Fairy Godmother” alongside Goldberg, Garber, Natalie Desselle Reid, Peters, Montalban, Alexander and Cox.
ABC stated, “Originally premiering on Nov. 2, 1997, to 60 million viewers on ABC’s ‘The Wonderful World of Disney,’ ‘Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella’ became an instant fan favorite, acclaimed by critics and audiences alike, and earning seven Emmy Award nominations. Celebrated for its diverse representation, sweeping musical acts and unforgettable songbook, the 1997 film features an incredible array of beloved and original songs by the iconic songwriting duo Rodgers & Hammerstein, including ‘Impossible,’ ‘In My Own Little Corner,’ ‘Ten Minutes Ago,’ ‘A Lovely Night,’ ‘Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful?’ and more.”
The televised movie musical debuted on Disney+ in February 2021.
In “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” when Cinderella’s cruel stepmother prevents her from attending the Royal Ball, she gets some unexpected help from her Fairy Godmother. The 1997 movie was directed by Robert Iscove, written by Robert I. Freedman, and choreographed by Rob Marshall. Houston, Martin Chase, Craig Zadan and Meron served as executive producers. Chris Montan was a producer, and Robyn Crawford was an associate producer.
“Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella” was originally presented on television in 1957, and was the only musical written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II for the medium. Starring a 21-year-old Julie Andrews, “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella” was the most widely viewed program in the history of the medium at the time, drawing an astonishing 107 million viewers. Its recreation in 1965 starring Lesley Ann Warren was no less successful in transporting a new generation to the miraculous kingdom of dreams come true, and so was the second remake in 1997. A new Broadway version with a Tony-nominated book by Douglas Carter Beane premiered in 2013.