Cinderella — With Music by Rodgers and Hammerstein

Posted on September 10, 2014 at 8:00 am

Every family will enjoy the 50th anniversary edition of the glorious Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, starring Lesley Ann Warren, with Celeste Holm as the fairy godmother, Jo Van Fleet as the evil stepmother, and Walter Pidgeon and Ginger Rogers as the King and Queen. One of the ugly stepsisters is played by Pat Carroll, who would go on to provide the voice for one of Disney’s most memorable villains, Ursula in “The Little Mermaid.” And the prince is played by “General Hospital’s” Stuart Damon. The performances are delightful but the star of the show is the wonderful music from Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. It was later remade with Brandy, Whitney Houston, and Bernadette Peters, equally delightful. And the rare first version with Julie Andrews is available now as well. All three are perfect for families to watch together.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtFhREtPdiE

“Cinderella” was the only musical Rodgers and Hammerstein (“Carousel,” “The King and I,” “The Sound of Music”) ever wrote for television. But it ended up on the duo’s home turf anyway when “Cinderella” became a Broadway hit, with Tony Award-winning costumes.

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Rodgers and Hammerstein Musicals Get New Releases from Fox

Posted on April 10, 2014 at 3:37 pm

r and h collectionFox Home Entertainment is releasing the Rodgers & Hammerstein Blu-ray Collection on May 6. This Amazon-exclusive collection will feature six of the 15-time Academy Award-winning movie musicals by the EGOT and Pulitzer Award-winning team of Rodgers & Hammerstein, including Best Picture winner The Sound of Music, Oklahoma!, The King and I, South Pacific, State Fair, and Carousel.

The set features brand new 4K digital restorations of The King and I and Carousel, the only two films made in CinemaScope55, and Oklahoma! meticulously restored in 4K from 8K scans of 65mm Todd-AO film elements in its original road show version at the unusual original frame rate of 30 frames per second.

Bonus materials include a Sing-A-Long version of The King and I for die-hard musical theatre lovers and more than an hour of behind-the-scenes features for Oklahoma!

Fox will release Oklahoma! and The King and I in stand-alone Blu-ray and DVD combo packs October 7 in commemoration of their 60th anniversaries in 2015 and 2016.

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The Sound of Music

Posted on November 8, 2010 at 8:00 am

A+
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating: G
Profanity: None
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Tension as the family escapes, Nazi threat
Diversity Issues: A theme of the movie
Date Released to Theaters: 1965
Date Released to DVD: November 9, 2010
Amazon.com ASIN: B003VS0CX8

The Sound of Music is out in a gorgeous new 45th anniversary edition Blu-Ray/DVD combo. The beloved family musical is the fictionalized story of Maria von Trapp (Julie Andrews). It is an outstanding family film, filled with glorious music (“Do Re Me,” “My Favorite Things,” “Eidelweiss,” So Long, Farewell”), a real-life love story right out of Jane Eyre, a courageous moral choice, and a heart-stopping escape.

As a postulant, Maria is “not a credit to the Abbey.” While she means well, she is constantly in trouble. The wise Mother Abbess sends her away to be the governess for the seven children of a stern widower, Captain von Trapp. Obedient to their disciplinarian father, the children are uncooperative with Maria until she wins them over with her own high spirits, as well as her kindness. She also shares her love of music, and her joy in the beauty around them, and they become devoted to each other.

The Captain’s friend Max (Richard Hadyn) hears the children sing, and wants them to perform at the local festival. But the Captain refuses, thinking it is foolish and inappropriate. Meanwhile, the Captain is considering marriage to a titled and wealthy woman, and his oldest daughter, Leisel, is beginning a romance with Rolfe. And as the Nazis threaten control of Austria, the Captain knows that his military skill and experience will lead them to him. He knows that they will ask him to join them, and that they will not accept a negative answer.

Maria, realizing that she has fallen in love with the Captain, runs back to the Abbey. But the Mother Abbess counsels her to follow her heart, and she returns to the children. The Captain realizes that he loves Maria, and they are married in the Abbey. They return from their honeymoon to find that an invitation to join the Nazi navy is waiting.

Max has put the children on the festival program, hoping the Captain would relent. He forbids them to participate and makes plans to escape. But when the Nazis arrive to stop him, he explains that they are just on their way to perform at the festival. The Nazis escort them to the festival, where they win first prize, and use their encore number to camouflage their escape. On their way out of Austria, they are betrayed by Rolfe, now a Nazi, but protected by the nuns in the Abbey, and they leave for Switzerland, over Maria’s beloved mountains.

Discussion: A number of people in this movie must make important choices when they face challenges that are completely unexpected. Maria and the Captain both thought they had established what their lives would be like. Maria planned to be a nun, and to live in the Abbey all her life. The Captain expected to continue with the life he had, a loving but stern father to his children and a respected aristocrat and military leader. His family had always lived in Austria, and he expected his children and grandchildren would live there, too. Maria’s unexpected challenge comes from within herself. She is lucky to have the wise Mother Abbess to help her examine her heart to learn that she is better suited for a life outside the Abbey.

The Captain is used to being in control. It may be that his regimental approach to the children is as much prompted by a need to feel in greater control following the loss of his wife as it is by his military training. His original inclination to marry the Baroness seems to be led by his head rather than his heart; it feels more like an alliance than a romance. But he finds that he cannot resist Maria’s warm and loving heart.

Just as all of this is happening, every aspect of the life they had known in Austria is challenged by the Nazis. Unlike his friends, the Captain does not have the option of making a slight accommodation to the Nazis. He must fight for them, if he wants to keep his home. He gives up every material possession he has to get away, preserving freedom for himself and his family.

Everyone in Austria has to make a choice when the Nazis arrive. Rolfe becomes so committed to the Nazis that he is willing to betray the young woman he cared for. Even the nuns in the Abbey must make a choice. They decide to protect the Von Trapps and impede the Nazis, risking their own freedom. Children, especially young children, will need some background to understand what these choices involved and what the risks were. It is also worthwhile to discuss with them the sweet song that the Captain sings to Maria, telling her that he must have done something good in his past to deserve her love and the happiness she has given him.

Questions for Kids:

· Why does Maria have a problem fitting in at the Abbey?

· What does the Captain learn from Maria?

· The same people wrote the song about “My Favorite Things” and “Whistle a Happy Tune” in “The King and I.” How are they alike? (Think about when it is that Maria sings the song.) If you were going to write the song, what would be on your list of favorite things?

· What is the difference between the way the Captain, Max, and Rolfe react to the Nazis?

· What does the song, “Climb Every Mountain” mean?

Connections: Sister Sophia is played by Marni Nixon, a rare onscreen appearance by the off-screen singing voice from “My Fair Lady,” “West Side Story” and “The King and I.”

Activities: Kids who enjoy this movie can read more about the real-life family in one of the books written by Maria von Trapp, and can visit the Trapp family’s lodge in Stowe, Vermont. Find Austria, Germany, and Switzerland on a map but do not try to trace the family’s escape route. If they had climbed over the mountains they took in the movie, they would have ended up in Germany.

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