"The Wonderful World of Disney" Cinderella (TV Episode 1997) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Although mistreated by her cruel stepmother and stepsisters, Cinderella is able to attend the royal ball through the help of a fairy godmother.

  • Cinderella (Brandy) chafes under the cruelty of her wicked stepmother (Bernadette Peters) and her evil stepsisters, Calliope (Veanne Cox) and Minerva (Natalie Desselle), until her Fairy Godmother (Whitney Houston) steps in to change her life for one unforgettable night. At the ball, she falls for handsome Prince Christopher (Paolo Montalban), whose parents, King Maximillian (Victor Garber) and Queen Constantina (Whoopi Goldberg), are anxious for him to find a suitable paramour.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • "Once upon a time in a bustling village marketplace in a tiny, picturesque kingdom...," thus begins the fanciful fairy tale of "Cinderella," a classic story of sibling rivalry, love at first sight and beauty within. The story opens as Cinderella's Fairy Godmother (Whitney Houston) sets the stage for the journey about to unfold, explaining that nothing is impossible in this magical, mystical realm. Following a busy day shopping in the village, Cinderella (Brandy) struggles under the weight of her heavy load, the numerous gaudy purchases of her imperious Stepmother (Bernadette Peters) and her spiteful and envious Stepsisters Minerva (Natalie Desselle) and Calliope (Veanne Cox). Cinderella, lost in the sights and sounds of the marketplace, lags behind and let's her imagination wander with the music of "The Sweetest Sounds." Disguised as a peasant, the Prince (Paolo Montalban) strolls through the very same marketplace, lost in wonderment at the same sights and sounds that so enthrall Cinderella. Cinderella is nearly crushed by the wheels of the royal carriage that is frantically circling the village in search of missing royalty, but she is saved by the Prince's heroic intervention and is immediately charmed by his sincere, direct nature, just as he is drawn to her naive honesty and purity. This budding relationship is abruptly interrupted as the belligerent Stepmother retrieves and scolds Cinderella. As they scurry after the Stepsisters, the Prince reluctantly returns to the royal palace. Upbraided by his frantic loyal valet Lionel (Jason Alexander) for his clandestine venture into the village, the Prince unsuccessfully tries to explain his sense of isolation and sadness. Adding to the Prince's frustration, his parents Queen Constantina (Whoopi Goldberg) and King Maximilian (Victor Garber) are making preparations for a special ball where he is to select a suitable bride from all the eligible maidens in the kingdom. Pleas by the Prince that he be permitted to fall in love the old fashioned way are dismissed by his parents, especially the Queen, and Lionel is dispatched to proclaim that "The Prince is Giving a Ball." Stepmother, bound and determined to see one of her graceless, obnoxious and self-indulgent daughters chosen as the Prince's new bride at the ball, is frenzied making plans for their big night. Caught up in the excitement of the moment, Cinderella wonders if she, too, might go to the Prince's ball. Finding the idea humorous, Stepmother reminds Cinderella of her lowly station in this world, and warns against dreams of joy, success and splendor. Disappointed, Cinderella retreats to her chair in the kitchen, which doubles as her bedroom, where she loses herself in exotic and exciting dreams of a world away from her Stepmother, away from her Stepsisters and away from this cold and loveless life, in a world to be found only "In My Own Little Corner." In the royal palace, as last minute details for the ball are completed, the Prince pleads with his parents to cancel the affair, but the King and Queen are unconvinced that the Prince will ever find his true love and see the ball as their only solution. Using his diplomatic skills, Lionel offers a compromise that everyone can agree to...if a fitting bride is not selected at the ball, then the Prince may seek his true love in his own way. Calliope and Minerva are undergoing a crash course in the rules of etiquette and royal protocol under the strict tutelage of their mother. Thinking about her own lost opportunities, she drills her girls on tricks to impress the Prince, vowing that one of them will end the evening as his wife-to-be. She certainly has her work cut out for her trying to control Minerva's nervous itching and Calliope's uncontrollable snorting. As Cinderella questions the meaning of love and romance, Stepmother quickly reminds all three girls that going to the ball has nothing to do with finding love, but everything to do with getting a husband by any means necessary. Stepmother ridicules and mocks Cinderella's impossible and childish ideas about "Falling in Love With Love." Stepmother, Minerva and Calliope, filled with giddy excitement, depart for the Palace in their bold, garish gowns, leaving Cinderella alone in her own little corner once again, imagining what it must be like to be one of the guests on this special night. Responding to Cinderella's tearful wish to go to the ball, the beautiful Fairy Godmother suddenly appears, full of sass and attitude with a life lesson or two to share. Encouraging Cinderella to stop dreaming about her life and instead start living her dreams, Fairy Godmother shows her that nothing is "Impossible" as she transforms a pumpkin into a gilded carriage, rats into handsome footmen, mice into regal horses and Cinderella herself into a stunning vision, aglow in a gorgeous gown, a bejeweled tiara on her head and glass slippers on her feet. Before sending the coach on its way, Fairy Godmother gives Cinderella two very important reminders. First, magic spells have time limits, and, therefore, Cinderella must leave the palace before the stroke of midnight, and second, only she can find the power within herself to make her dreams come true. Off to the Palace, Cinderella finally begins to believe "It's Possible." Amid the hustle and bustle of the spectacular ball, King Maximilian and Queen Constantina greet their anxious guests, Lionel dutifully delivers eligible maidens to the Prince on the dance floor, Stepmother fiendishly schemes behind the scenes to win a wedding proposal for one of her daughters and the uninspired Prince dances with every woman in attendance, including Minerva, who breaks out in an itchy rash, and Calliope, who is even less dazzling as she snorts uncontrollably at everything the Prince says. Suddenly Cinderella appears at the top of the staircase, and a hush falls over the ball as the Prince has eyes only for her. Soon they are waltzing away in each other's arms thinking how odd that they were mere strangers just "Ten Minutes Ago," and leaving Minerva and Calliope to commiserate over their bad luck in a "Stepsisters Lament." The King and Queen are equally enchanted and intrigued by this mysterious princess, a potential new daughter-in-law. Embarrassed by questions about her family and background, Cinderella escapes to the garden in tears where Fairy Godmother magically appears for moral support. In a blink, she is gone and the Prince is at Cinderella's side. Once again finding their conversations relaxed and comfortable, the couple wonders "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful?" Just as they share their first kiss, the tower clock begins its ominous midnight call. Remembering her Fairy Godmother's admonition, Cinderella flees, leaving behind a single clue on the steps to the palace, a sparkling glass slipper. Stepmother and the Stepsisters return home exhausted telling exaggerated stories about their glorious adventures with the Prince, who, according to them, was mesmerized by their many charms. They speak in envious tones of the mysterious stranger, "Princess Something-or-other" who they concede also captured the Prince's attention. Wishing to share her excitement, Cinderella recalls that her imaginary evening at the ball was "A Lovely Night." Stepmother refuses to believe her own instincts when she finds Cinderella's manners strangely familiar to those of "Princess Something-or-other" because, to Stepmother, some things really are impossible. Heading to bed, Stepmother coldly reminds Cinderella once again that she is common and should stop this ridiculous dreaming about a life she will never have. No longer capable of enduring such cruelty, Cinderella finally decides to leave and goes to her room to pack her meager belongings. Again, a visit from her Fairy Godmother helps Cinderella find her inner strength and realize that she needs to seek her own happiness. She knows she has found true love with the Prince and is challenged by her Fairy Godmother to share her feelings with him. Lionel and the heartbroken Prince set out on a mission to find the one special maiden who lost the glass slipper, and the mood of the Prince continues to darken as woman after woman, foot after foot, fails to measure up. After trying the slipper on the endless supply of eligible female feet in the kingdom, the Prince and Lionel finally arrive at the Stepmother's cottage. Minerva, Calliope and even Stepmother herself try to fit their oversized feet into the delicate slipper, but to no avail. As the dispirited Prince prepares to leave, Cinderella has started down the path on her journey to freedom but is startled by the horses of the royal carriage waiting outside and drops her few possessions. As she kneels to retrieve them, she looks up into the eyes of her Prince standing beside her. He recognizes her from their recent encounter at the ball as well as their earlier chance meeting in the marketplace. Knowing that he has finally found his true love, he places the slipper on Cinderella's foot.....a perfect fit. In true fairy tale fashion, Cinderella and the Prince are married under the approving eye of the King and Queen. Fairy Godmother blesses the couple with the message that "There's Music in You" as they are cheered by their joyful royal subjects. The gates of the palace slam shut on Cinderella's Stepmother and Stepsisters, leaving them outside as the Prince and his new Princess head into the palace to start their lives of "happily ever after".

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