Back in the golden age of television, when TV specials were just that, waiting for the broadcast of a show like "Cinderella" was truly an anticipated event. Add the names of Rodgers and Hammerstein and Star-in-the-making Julie Andrews, and you have an entertainment milestone! This was the celebrated songwriters only musical especially written for television, and it is a classic. The project was specifically intended to showcase Andrews (then appearing on Broadway in "My Fair Lady"). The hand-picked cast included Ilka Chase as the stepmother, Edie (here billed as Edith) Adams as the fairy godmother, and Broadway Stars Howard Lindsay and his wife, Dorothy Stickney as the king and queen. A newcomer, John Cypher, later to gain fame on ''Hill Street Blues'' was cast as the prince, and up and coming comedians Alice Ghostley and Kaye Ballard played the stepsisters. Because this was before the advent of videotape, the production was kine scoped while being broadcast live, although the original color kine scope was lost. Julie Andrews may look somewhat matronly (even at 21) to be Cinderella, but her lovely voice and star quality carry her through. Fans of "Mary Poppins" and "The Sound Of Music" will be pleasantly surprised to see how vulnerable she can be. Cypher is a suitable prince, with a good voice, while Adams is pushing a bit too hard as the godmother. Ilka chase, as the stepmother, and Ghostley and Ballard as the stepsisters are more silly than wicked. In all fairness though, this version was written more as a modern take off on the fairy tale, while the 1965 remake returned to the mood of the traditional story. The sets and costumes are rather cut-rate, somewhere between medieval and '50s modern, but they get by. Andrews is really the reason to see this, and it did attract a record audience at the time. The DVD is a treat with a remastered black-and white picture which, while not perfect, is good enough. There are several nice extras, including a documentary with Andrews, Cypher, Adams and Ballard reminiscing about the making of the production. Either for historic or entertainment reasons, "Cinderella" is well worth having. It's not every day you can watch a star being born.
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