Good grief...the attacks, the smug, sarcastic asides, the soapboxes on how this country is outta control with political correctness- Momma Mia!! And the truth is, no one would care if this Rodgers & Hammerstein musical classic was redone for a 30th time if the cast was white. There are literally the same complaints over and over again about the audacity of a black Cinderella (or a black queen or a black fairy godmother), but swift denials of any racist feelings or speculations. Yes, this version of the R&H musical is flawed, but the flaws (for me, at least) have absolutely NOTHING to do with the casting. (In this modern day and age, if people want to vocalize racial distaste, they say things are "too PC," which is clearly shorthand for "too-many-black-folks-in-the-room." How does a fairy tale- which has a pumpkin turning into a coach and a dress vanishing at the stroke of midnight- merit a debate about realism based on the fact that some of the actors are ethnic? Who are you fooling with these comments?)
I thought Brandy was lovely- especially in the spotlight solo "In My Own Little Corner." And I loved "Ten Minutes Ago-" the elaborate waltz which pairs Brandy and Paolo Montalban (an Asian prince?! Eeek!!) in a rather extravagant duet which gains in scope with a spinning 360 degree camera and lots and lots of dancers. What didn't I like about it? That the medium was completely changed from a TV play to a CGI-heavy movie. The first two productions had exclusively been done for television, in a television medium. The original live 1957 broadcast could not be taped (tape wasn't thoroughly invented yet), but thank goodness the 1964 broadcast was (some of that live feel is retained in this middle version). I would've loved for the 1997 production to be videotaped, where it would've felt a touch more intimate and warm. But it ventures out-and-over the top too often, such as in the elephantine "The Prince is Giving a Ball" and "Impossible," which seems to be all about the crazy light effects surrounding the floating carriage. I think the latest version needed more intimacy. For instance, one of the best scenes in the entire production features a minuscule epilogue not in either of the previous versions. Following the ball (and "A Lovely Night"), Cinderella's fairy godmother emerges one more time to persuade her charge to find her prince and tell him the truth, underscoring that she believe in herself and trust the prince to love her for exactly the way she is. A lovely, powerful moment which relies on nothing but simple, honest sentiment.
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