Prinderella and the Cince by
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I loved fairy tales as a young girl. I remember that I was reading “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” when I fell ill during the summer of 1964 and spent a week in the infirmary. I was 11 years old, had thrown up during Sunday morning services, (Our Father, who art in Heaven…blechhh…). The whole camp used to go to services, so I had an infamous moment (“Oh YOU were the one who threw up”; “Yes, that was me”). The book kept me occupied as I lay in bed, recuperating from the flu.

But it wasn’t fun to miss one whole week out of only eight. I missed seeing my older brother (in High School division) play a lead in “The Pirates of Penzance”. I was released just in time to see the musical (Rick played a Mountie) in “Little Mary Sunshine”, starring a lovely, talented Terri Sue Feldshuh. She changed her name to Tovah, has had a great career on stage, TV and cabaret;  you can see her on Broadway right now as Mrs. Brice in “Funny Girl”. I’ve known her since I was 10.

Terri Sue Feldshuh in 1964

Rick and I loved all the Disney versions of the fairy tales. I can still sing all the songs from “Cinderella”. Maleficent in “Sleeping Beauty” really frightened me. Those classics were beautifully created, the stories had more or less happy endings. Of course, I longed to be a princess.

But Rick and I LOVED the earliest version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” starring Julie Andrews. It was created for television, was only seen in black and white, and (as you can see), Rick bought the album and we listened to it non-stop (he gifted it to me years ago). We can both still sing all the music. So I think I have to go with Cinderella, as I truly love so many versions of it.

The later (and better remembered) TV version, starring Lesley Ann Warren paled for us, as she just wasn’t nearly as good as Julie Andrews, but the production was lavish and the music was the same, so we always watched it (and mocked the leading lady). I never saw the Brandy/Whitney Houston version (now 25 years old and I understand, will be shown on TV again sometime this year). I’m sure it sparkles as well.

In fact, even after writing this story (I write a few weeks before the prompt goes live), I discovered there would be a live production of this classic on Martha’s Vineyard the weekend before I leave for the season, so it remains ever-popular.

From the “Martha’s Vineyard Gazette”, 9/29/22

In my second and third summers at camp, I was an Intermediate. Jane, the head of the waterfront, did her own version of Cinderella that dazzled, amazed and amused all of us to no end. She did a very stream-lined version of the story, all in spoonerisms (swapping opening consonant sounds with one another for a funny effect). We would beg her to repeat the story over and over again. Finally she mimeographed the story (yes, really) for each of us. I memorized it and can still recite it. I looked it up on YouTube, found a few versions close, but not identical to what I had learned, but similar enough that you will get the intended effect. If you’d like to hear me recite it, give me a call. I still prefer my version.

 

 

Profile photo of Betsy Pfau Betsy Pfau
Retired from software sales long ago, two grown children. Theater major in college. Singer still, arts lover, involved in art museums locally (Greater Boston area). Originally from Detroit area.


Characterizations: right on!

Comments

  1. Banks Thetsy for this stonderful wory!

    My dad loves spoonerisms, I wish he could hear your clip. His favorite cookies were Nig Fewtons!

  2. John Shutkin says:

    Terrific story and, given your love of theater, Betsy, I’m not surprised that fairy tales featured prominently in your memories, in addition to those that Grimm collected. They are, of course, perfect bases for musicals. Indeed, think of Sondheim’s “Into the Woods,” which wonderfully mixes in a whole slew of them.

    I also love that you have known “Terri Sue” – -who knew that was her real name? — since you were ten. Very cool.

    And, speaking of versions of “Cinderella,” have you heard that there is to be an Andrew Lloyd Webber version of it coming to Broadway soon (it has been playing in the West End)? For some reason — copywrite issues? — it is now to be called “Bad Cinderella.” We expect you to see and review it for all of us.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Just between us friends…Terri Sue is my brother’s peer (obviously), but on her official bio, her December birthday makes her a few weeks younger than moi! Now isn’t that a shirty dame? Well, she remains in great shape and very talented, so who cares?

      I’d read something about “Bad Cinderella”, but didn’t know it was an Andrew Lloyd Webber creation. That does not inspire me, I confess. His creations tend to be overblown, but certainly successful. On the other hand, “Into the Woods” is a terrific extrapolation of the fairy tales and what happens after the weddings. Smart and cynical.

  3. Susan Bennet says:

    Some people’s memories of events key on food (really), yours described here key on transporting musical theater performance. I prefer yours. How did I miss Julie Andrews in Cinderella? I will seek it out, and thank you for the reference. I have always admired the work of Tovah Feldshuh, yet another of your talented acquaintances. Thanks for a lovely story.

  4. Marian says:

    Everyone loves Cinderella, Betsy, and your review introduced me to some new theater version. Loved the clip with the Spoonerisms. I’ve always admired “Terri Sue’s” acting, so what a thrill to learn that you knew her.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      The spoonerisms version was so much fun when I was a kid, Mare (in my version, the ending punchline was “Now isn’t that a shirty dame”, said only once. And of course there are only two “sisty uglers”. I’ve never heard of a version with three). We all loved hearing Jane repeat that over and over. Tovah is a force of nature. She got her start at camp, singing Cousin Hebe in HMS Pinafore in 1963 (the summer before my first, but I visited that year to see my brother, so saw that performance. I think Suzy was there that summer.)

  5. Suzy says:

    Wikipedia shows Ms. Feldshuh with a 1948 birthday, so I don’t know who she is trying to fool with an official bio that says 1952. I guess actresses have always been shaving a few years off their ages, but in the old days they didn’t have Wikipedia to out them! As I mentioned in response to your comment on my story, I was in a breakout room with her at one of the NMC zoom reunions, and she did show her name as Terri Sue. But people were fawning over her, which was annoying. How fun that you still have that photo of her in Little Mary Sunshine.

    I loved the Lesley Ann Warren Cinderella, but not sure if I ever saw the Julie Andrews one. It would be hard for Lesley to measure up to Julie. And I saw the Brandy one and didn’t like it much, although I don’t remember why (it was 25 years ago!).

    I do remember the craze for those spoonerized stories, so thanks for posting that video. Now I have to go look in the kids’ bookcases to see which spoonerized stories we have!

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      That first camp Zoom (for campers from the 60s) was a zoo – difficult to control, too many people, even my brother showed up, which was fun! And I knew all his friends and many more from my years on the National Alumni Board, but no one could really talk. I, also saw people fawning over her and I actually knew her (I stayed on at the end and spoke with lots of my brother’s friends. But out of that mess, grew my friends’ once-a-month Zoom, which we’ve done for over two years now, so at least something good happened.

      I agree, I don’t see the point in changing one’s official bio in this day and age, when everything can be checked on Google, but a feature in the Boston Globe is “This Day in History”, which starts with every famous person’s birthday, and the year they were born, which is when I noticed she’d knocked several years off her birth date. I just thought it was funny.

      There was much to like about the Lesley Ann Warren version of Cinderella (same music, beautiful production values, the fellow who played the Prince was an Interlochen alum too). But she couldn’t compare to Julie Andrews (Lesley Ann was a very young and inexperience actress, I believe; she was MUCH better in Victor/Victoria). I think the Brandy version is on Amazon now. I’ve never seen it, and am not going to watch it now. I’d rather listen to the original cast album.

      Spoonerisms are really fun! I didn’t know stories had been actually published though. That’s interesting.

  6. John Zussman says:

    Wonderful story, Betsy. Patti and I love Spoonerisms too and will gladly accept your recitation offer the next time we are together.

    Another group that created very funny Spoonerism routines was the Capitol Steps comedy troupe. It turns out they have a whole page of them (called “Lirty Dies”) here: https://www.capsteps.com/lirty/
    With them as a model, I created my own Spooneristic tribute to my Mom on her 70th birthday that will (I say humbly) live forever in family lore.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Spoonerisms are clever and such fun, right John? They trick one’s ear, so we think we hear the phrase properly…but not quite. Glad you and Patti appreciate them too, and I’m sure your 70th birthday tribute does live on in your family lore, just as Valgol lives on forever on the Internet.

  7. Khati Hendry says:

    I’m pretty sure I did see the Brandy version of Cinderella—but it seems impossible that it was 25 years ago; I am in shock. OMG. That aside, fairy tales have timeless themes that have been fertile ground for theatre, and show up in Netflix plots regularly whether acknowledged or not.

  8. Laurie Levy says:

    So funny that we chose the same fairy tale as our favorite. Your musical take on it reminded me of other versions I loved, aside from Disney and books. Wish I had seen Julie Andrews in that role. I will have to hunt for it on YouTube.

  9. Suzy says:

    Hi Betsy, this is just a test comment, no need to approve. Let me know if you get a notification. And btw, did you see Dale’s story about Sleeping Beauty? Quite a surprising take on that fairy tale!

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