Cinderella (1965 Television Cast Recording)

Released in 1957, the soundtrack for Cinderella marked a new kind of project for Rodgers & Hammerstein: Not only was it the first time they’d written expressly for television—rather than adapting a show from the stage—it was the first time Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II were working with such well-known source material. The novelty provided a challenge: The duo needed the story to remain recognizable for kids, while also offering enough depth for parents to be interested. And, in certain ways, the two Broadway legends were more conscious of the immediacy of their music than ever before: After all, a show might get a season to prove itself—but a TV special only runs once. The show was conceived in part as a spotlight for the young British actress Julie Andrews, who had recently made her name in the US acting opposite Rex Harrison in the hit Broadway musical My Fair Lady. Andrews’ famously sunny disposition imbued Cinderella with a sense of persistence and almost transcendent optimism in the face of steep odds (“In My Own Little Corner,” “Impossible; It’s Possible”). The broadcast was reportedly seen by 107 million people—at the time, an astonishing 60% of the US population. Rodgers & Hammerstein later noted the same audience for a stage production would’ve meant selling out eight nights a week for 140 years—a tough prospect, even for a Fairy Godmother.

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