Brandy Reprises Her Role as Cinderella!

It turns out I wasn't the only one who was excited to learn that the 1997 version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella was coming to Disney+ last week. Everyone involved in the making of this classic film from over 20 years ago got together for interviews, a live watch party on Twitter, and more. The biggest surprise of this celebration was a brand new music video from Disney aficionado Todrick Hall featuring the leading lady herself, Brandy Norwood. It starts out as a fun little singing session between Brandy and Todrick as they serenade each other with songs from the classic musical. Then, something magical happens as Brandy is transformed into a slightly updated version of her princess look from the 1997 film and returns to the ball with Todrick as her prince. The video comes to a "happily ever after" with socially distanced cameos from several of the other cast members in the film.


Todrick Hall is no stranger to producing professional-quality Disney fan videos. I was particularly impressed by his "Spell Block Tango" mash-up video of Disney villains with the musical Chicago back in the day. It's evident that his "Cinderella" video was a labor of love by all the wonderful little touches in the background of his studio. There are countless Broadway posters lining the walls, a classic storybook from Disney's animated 1950 version of the story, and dolls of both Brandy and Whitney Houston in their iconic gowns from the 1997 movie. The costume that Brandy wears when she transforms into Cinderella at the ball is slightly different from the in the original film. It is a darker shade of blue and made of more shimmery material, adding to the magic of the music video. Her crown is also larger, implying that she has evolved from a princess into a full-blown queen. The choreography during this scene is on point and every bit as magical as it was in the original film.


What I enjoyed the most about this video was the look of sheer delight on Brandy and Todrick's faces as they performed these classic songs. You could tell that the video was made as a result of love and enjoyment for the original and not as a forced promotion for Disney (even though Whoopi Goldberg throws one in at the end). It's adorable how amazed Todrick Hall looks when Brandy walks into the room. She also seems to be having the time of her life adding her own soulful spin on iconic songs like "In My Own Little Corner" and "Impossible." The rest of the cast, including Bernadette Peters, Jason Alexander, and Paolo Montalban, who dressed up for his cameo, show their appreciation for the movie by appearing in the "Cinderella" storybook at the end. It was delightful to see that all of these performers still remember their roles in this gorgeous movie.


Todrick Hall isn't the only one who blessed us with new "Cinderella" music last week. On the same day that Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella launched on Disney+, Andrew Lloyd Webber released another song from his Cinderella musical called "I Know I Have a Heart." This song is thematically similar to "Far Too Late." It expands upon Cinderella's regrets toward not telling Prince Sebastian about her feelings for him and running away from the ball. The song emphasizes her heartbreak after he picks a different woman to be his bride with the line "I know I have a heart because you broke it" and deconstructs today's feminist princess trope that encourages girls to suppress their femininity and hide their emotions. This version of Cinderella embodies the modern princess trope of being rebellious and independent and denying her feelings for the prince. "I Know I Have a Heart" enunciates the dangers of this attitude by showing us that no matter how tough a woman may act on the outside, she is just susceptible to pain and heartbreak on the inside.

"Cinderella" is a story that was once considered outdated. With these two musical revivals, it seems to be back in fashion. It makes sense that all of the people falling on hard times due to the current state of the world would want to embrace the fantasy of having their problems magically disappear. Personally, I've never grown tired of this story and am happy to see it make a comeback in any form. I think that the currently airing Disney+ series, WandaVision, is another example of a modern deconstruction of the "Cinderella" trope, but I will expand on that after the season ends.

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