Cinderella (1997) – Groundbreaking and Entertaining in ALL the Right Ways

This is the Rodgers and Hammerstein’s version done for TV and presented by Disney in the 90s. A remake of the musical that was filmed live for TV in 1957 with Julie Andrews in the lead. And unlike some other remakes, this is actually pretty good and has so much going for it and its not just the music that makes it magical.

And no summary this time because I think everyone knows the story already!



This is movie is everything good about the 90s in a package with all the stars in it that had been in their height at that time either music wise or in theatre. Its camp, its ham, its colourblind and even for a TV production the production values are very good and the camera work is stunning, even if the CGI magic is dated, but I honestly didn’t care. The score by Rodgers and Hammerstein’s is catchy – as is par for the course – and to have this kind of talent sing it is nothing but special.

Brandy is our Cinderella, playing her as soft and filled with wonder, but still steel inside and a good head on her shoulders. This was her first acting job as she does well, but when she sings she truly shines. The importance of her role in this cannot be dismissed, being the first person of colour in a movie or on TV playing Cinderella. Her cinderella is intelligent, funny and beautiful. She questions the lessons her Stepmother gives her Stepsisters and is aware of her position and thus needs a little confidence boost to have her chase her dreams (which is not the prince FYI).

Whitney Huston (RIP) as the Fairy Godmother is perfect in her role, being magic all in her own charismatic way. She was actually a real life Fairy Godmother as she was at first offered the part of Cinderella, but refused as she felt she was too old for the role and recommended Brandy whom she called personally to tell her that she had the part. Her pipes are big and her warmth towards Brandy when they have scenes together is wonderfully motherly.

The legend Bernadette Peters as the Stepmother is both funny and cunning. She brings her most theatrical mannerisms to make this Stepmother perpetually annoyed at her two daughters and their shortcomings. Her spitefulness towards Cinderella comes from lost love, how she questions her and how idealistic she is. She can crush Cinderella’s self esteem with mere words alone.

The rest of the cast is throughly enjoyably entertaining. Paolo Montablán as Prince Christopher is dreamy not only in looks but with his singing as well, it’s like silk on velvet. His Prince has a democratic streak and is henpecked by his mother to his dismay about picking a bride and makes humour out of a dull situation like a prince would do. He has the same wish as Cinderella, to be out of the situation he is put on.

Whoopi Goldberg as Queen Constantina is ABSOLUTELY hilarious! She can go from deadpan to pure slapstick in an instant. Victor Garber as King Maximillian is a little put upon, but still a loving husband and king who pulls back the dramatics in the household back in to earth. The King and Queen have a wonderful marriage, balancing each other out.

Jason Alexander as Lionel the valet is pure comedy gold, whenever he interacts with anyone in the cast he some either the butt of the joke or the one making the other it. His singing is wonderful as he goes through the difficult and quick ‘The Prince is Having A Ball’ song without a breath and takes it in stride.



First off this is a fairy tale so of course logic is out of the window. But it gives the casting all the more freedom and importance. Black mother and white dad can have a Filipino son, the Stepmother either had an affair in the last marriage or was married two times before Cinderella’s dad, since one of her daughters is white and the other black. None of this explained for dramatic purposes. It just exists and that fact in itself is groundbreaking. Today there would be tons of backstory and explanation which would ruin the magic. But in a world of Fairy Godmothers who needs logistics in biology? Certainly not the kids watching this and seeing themselves for the first time on screen as these important people who look like them.

So yeah, watch this beautiful 90s masterpiece of diversity and song. I can hardly think of anyone who would be disappointed in this movie. And who cares how old you are when you can watch this and feel like a child at heart!

Thank you for reading! 

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