The first African-American actress to portray “Cinderella” in the fairytale story is now starring with a wicked, step-mother of the same race at the Broadway Theater, 1681 Broadway.
For a limited engagement only, Keke Palmer helms the title role by transforming the pitiful character known to readers as the step-child who labors long and hard to appease the woman her father married.
That character portrayed by actress Sherri Shepherd is Madame, the transforming individual who dominates the rigid routine of a young woman who eventually wins an entire kingdom.
Others to charm patrons include Joe Carroll as Prince Topher; Judy Kaye as the Fairy Godmother, Ann Harada as stepsister Charlotte, Stephanie Gibson as stepsister Gabrielle, Peter Bartlett as Sebastian, Prince Topher’s mentor and Lord Chancellor, Todd Buonopane as the rebel Jean-Michel and Phumzile Sojola as Lord Pinkleton.
The new and improved children’s favorite is written by Douglas Carter Beane. With music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, the musical is directed by Mark Brokaw. Music adaptation, supervision and arrangements are by David Chase.
Palmer is the youngest actress to portray the fairy-tale character. At age 21 her theatrical credits include co-starring alongside Cicely Tyson, Blair Underwood, and Vanessa Williams in “a Trip To Bountiful,” an Emmy-nominated Lifetime presentation. In addition to her pioneering role on Broadway, Palmer also claims the title of youngest ever host of a talk show.
“Just Keke” is aired on BET and tackles pop culture, fashion, relationship issues and tackles social and celebrity interviews.
Shepherd is perhaps best-know for regular television appearances on the hit, situation comedy “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
However, daytime TV viewers will most likely identify her as one of Barbara Walters’ personal choices to co-host with Joy Behar, Whoopi Goldberg on the daily talk fest known as “The View.”
The stand-up comedienne has also appeared in numerous movies including “the Oscar-winning film “Precious.”
Her appearance ends on Nov. 23 when Nene Leakes takes over the tyrannical character.
Now in its second year on Broadway, the musical has been playing to large and enthusiastic audiences for two years.
Slated to close next year, the musical production has attracted school-children and elders who seems transfixed with the magical staging which transforms a pumpkin into a horse-drawn carriage and a plain, country girl into a beguiling princess.
That it all happens in the blink of an eye is what seems to be most magical about the production. And that a forest becomes a luxurious ballroom also proves alluring to patrons.
The execution from book to stage is well-worth the ticket.
Josh Rhodes is choreographer.
Catch it before it disappears.
For more information about the Broadway production, visit www.CinderellaOnBroadway.com