A Cinderella Story
Who needs Prince Charming this Valentine’s Day when you can break out your favorite tiara, cozy up with a glass of wine and delight in the magic of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella? As the clock strikes midnight on Feb. 12, the beloved classic will at long last be available for fans to stream on Disney+. In honor of the royally exciting news — and leading lady Brandy’s birthday on Feb. 11 — we’re taking a look back at some of the most nostalgia-inducing photos from the 1997 TV movie and its premiere.
The singer and actress, who celebrates her 42nd birthday on Feb. 11, was only 18 when the ABC movie came out, and made history as the first Black woman to portray Cinderella on screen. And as if the elaborate onscreen costumes weren’t dazzling enough, she arrived at the movie’s Hollywood premiere looking like a real-life princess in an embroidered white gown.
The inclusive casting featured an A-list roster of stars — perhaps none shining so bright as the late Whitney Houston as Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother.
In addition to Brandy and Houston, the cast included Whoopi Goldberg as Queen Constantina, Victor Garber as King Maximillian, Bernadette Peters as the Stepmother, Paolo Montalbán as the Prince and Jason Alexander as Lionel, the King’s counsel. Veanne Cox and the late Natalie Desselle Reid also starred as Cinderella’s stepsisters Minerva and Calliope.
“My childhood dreams were to be a singer, touch as many people as I could and to meet Whitney Houston, just meet her,” Brandy told PEOPLE in August 2020. Houston, who executive produced the movie, played real-life fairy godmother to the young singer when she tapped her for the role.
“So to meet her, hang out with her and sing with her,” Brandy added, “it was unbelievable. For her to cast me in such a role, the first Black princess, I don’t know the words to really describe what that feels like.”
Behind the Scenes
The movie quickly became the most-watched TV musical in decades, airing to 60 million viewers in October 1997. It went on to win seven Emmy nominations.
“We were Hamilton before Hamilton,” Whoopi Goldberg told Entertainment Weekly during a recent virtual cast reunion.
A Royally Good Time
“I feel like it’s divine timing,” Brandy told Variety of the film finding its home online at long last. “This is the month of love; this is a month of Black history. This is just the perfect time for this product to be shared with everyone.”
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella will join the “Celebrate Black Stories” collection on Disney+ alongside Soul, Black Is King, Black Panther, Hidden Figures and others.
For the TV movie’s New York premiere, Houston and then-husband Bobby Brown coordinated their looks with denim jeans and gold cross necklaces, while Brandy went for an all-black ensemble.
A week later, the trio appeared looking like real-life royalty for the film’s Hollywood premiere at Mann’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
The singer posed for a photo with her younger brother, Ray-J, on the red carpet.
Happily Ever After
From the elaborate costumes and musical numbers to the hilarious one-liners, the movie is a blended time capsule of everything we love about the late ’90s and the timeless fairytale — and have we mentioned the perfect pairing of Brandy and Montalbán?
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