“Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella” has a special distinction among musicals: It didn’t start out as a Broadway show.
It was a made-for-TV event starring Julie Andrews in 1957 and became the most watched television show ever (to that date), seen by more than 100 million people.
The Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre production of this show also has a special distinction: It features all three Travolta sisters – Ellen, Margaret and Annie – working together on stage for the first time.
Ellen plays the evil stepmother, Margaret plays stepsister Joy and Annie plays stepsister Grace.
“I’m just thrilled to have my sisters here,” said Ellen, who lives in Coeur d’Alene and who has appeared in a number of shows at the CdA Summer Theatre. “And they’re such nice people as well!”
They have been on stage together before, but not exactly working, at a Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre fundraiser in 2004.
And Ellen and Annie appeared together (with brother John) in a tour of “Bus Stop” in 1976.
Margaret, who recently moved to Coeur d’Alene, is an actress who has appeared in a number of movies, including “High Fidelity,” “Wild Hogs” and “Oceans 13.” She is also an in-demand voice-over artist.
Annie (aka Ann) is an L.A. actress who has been in “Saturday Night Fever,” “Urban Cowboy” and various TV shows.
Trivia question: How many other cast members of “Saturday Night Fever” and “Urban Cowboy” will be in the house for at least one performance of “Cinderella”?
Answer: One. John Travolta has plans to attend on an unannounced date.
In fact, the Travolta clan plans to use this as a good excuse to hold a large family reunion at Ellen’s house, with all six siblings in attendance (the other two are Sammy and Joey).
Meanwhile, we should remember that the lead performers in this show are not named Travolta at all.
This musical is based on the famous Charles Perrault fairy tale, familiar from the Disney movie. The title role is played by Jessica Skerritt, who impressed audiences last season as Ellen in “Miss Saigon.”
The Fairy Godmother is played by Meghan Maddox, one of the theater’s top-flight veterans. Tamara Schupman and Jack Bannon (he’s almost a Travolta, being married to Ellen) play the King and Queen.
Andrew Ware Lewis plays the Prince. The director is artistic director Roger Welch.
And don’t forget two other big names: Rodgers and Hammerstein. This may not be their most famous score, but it’s Rodgers and Hammerstein at the height of their powers, and it contains a number of classic Rodgers melodies.
This show is familiar to younger viewers for another TV production: a 1997 version starring Brandy as Cinderella, Whitney Houston as the Fairy Godmother and Bernadette Peters as the stepmother. There was also a 1965 TV version starring Lesley Ann Warren and Ginger Rogers.
The CdA Summer Theatre will have lavish production values – “big special effects, beautiful sets and costumes and a 22-piece orchestra,” according to Ellen Travolta.
Yes, a pumpkin will turn into a carriage.
The show is family friendly; a special family matinee has already been added on July 10, bringing the total number of performances to 10.