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Title:Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella (1957, Kinescope) - Julie Andrews, Jon Cypher, Edie Adams

(This is a BLACK and WHITE kinescope record of the rehearsal of Cinderella.)

Magical Find Excites TV Historians; 'Cinderella' Film Reflects An Emerging Medium

The tape is grainy, black-and-white and primitive. The special effects are merely sparklers, used when the Fairy Godmother turns the pumpkin into a stagecoach and gives Cinderella an elegant cape for the ball.
Nevertheless, this artifact is a piece of entertainment history that had been given up for lost: the first dress rehearsal of the CBS television musical ''Cinderella,'' featuring Julie Andrews, recorded on kinescope in Manhattan on March 17, 1957.
The final production, broadcast live two weeks later, was the only one written by Rodgers and Hammerstein expressly for television, and it was an enormous success for CBS, drawing 107 million viewers compared with the 65 million who watched ''Peter Pan'' on NBC two years earlier. [...]
In an article about ''Cinderella,'' TV Guide wrote, ''The viewer will thus have an opportunity to watch free of charge what most theatergoers would eagerly have paid many dollars to see on Broadway.''
Though critics were not thrilled with the ''Cinderella'' book or the production, they raved about the score and Ms. Andrews.
The broadcast helped make Ms. Andrews, then 21, a national star; performing in ''My Fair Lady'' on Broadway at the time, she won an Emmy for the Cinderella role. While the kinescope is in black-and-white, the show was broadcast in color for the few who had it in 1957.
Instead of being discarded, as people assumed, the rehearsal film survived and was discovered in February in the CBS tape archive in Hollywood. It had not been viewed for 45 years. The tape shows a complete rehearsal without breaks.
Perhaps the most detailed account of the making of ''Cinderella'' is a master's degree thesis by Harold Messing, who became a theatrical lawyer and died in 1993. For his thesis, submitted in August 1957 at Stanford University, Messing was given access to every step of the musical's development and wrote about the rehearsal tape. ''The performance was called the 'New Haven Opening,' and was meant to be the television equivalent of an out-of-town pre-Broadway opening in the legitimate theater,'' he wrote. ''This run-through was to simulate, as closely as possible, the final telecast.''
So that improvements could be made to the final performance, the rehearsal film was studied by Ralph Nelson, the director; Richard Lewine, the producer; Rodgers, who wrote the music; Hammerstein, who wrote the book and lyrics; and members of the technical team. [...]
The rehearsal film was not shown to cast members. ''Ralph Nelson feared that should the cast be allowed to view themselves, self-criticism might prevail,'' Messing wrote, ''and the performers would possibly appear to be self-conscious about certain movement or might try to 'correct' certain aspects of their performance, which Mr. Nelson felt needed no correction.''
The TV Guide article quoted [...] Hammerstein: ''If we found that something didn't fit we cut it out or doctored it.''
Rodgers: ''That's what's called running scared.''
After scrutinizing the rehearsal film and two later ones, the creators made several major changes. For example, [...]. They substituted the ruffled coat that the Fairy Godmother bestows on Cinderella for the ball with a shinier satin one and allowed Edie Adams (the Fairy Godmother) to wear her own hair rather than a stiff wig. ''The wig was bothering me,'' Ms. Adams said in an interview, noting that she still has the wig intact.
Other notes, [...], included a critique of the performances: Ms. Andrews and Howard Lindsay, as the King, ''were both using theater technique, [...]. ''Theater technique must be replaced by television technique.''
''Cinderella should show more regret in singing 'Impossible.' ''
''Cinderella must not look at her Godmother during the sparkler effect.''
''Dust should be added to the costume of the Fairy Godmother in order to make her dress appear to be 850 years old.'' [...]
CBS went after Rodgers and Hammerstein, Broadway's premier writing team. CBS was ''determined to do anything they possibly could to make this thing good,'' Mr. Chapin said. [...]
Ms. Adams said it was a challenge to make a small stage seem large and to manage the traffic of dancers and the quick costume changes in cramped quarters. The show had 56 actors, 115 costumes and a 33-piece orchestra. [...]
''To put this on was a big, big deal,'' Ms. Adams said. ''And to bring it into everyone's living room was very, very strange.'' [...]
Pepsi-Cola, a sponsor, included five million four-page comic books in cartons of Pepsi sold in the weeks before the broadcast. [...].
[...] At one point, Ms. Adams recalled, Rodgers blew his whistle and said, ''The second boy on the left in the chorus, you're singing an A flat.''



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