Michael Jackson and Jerry Greenberg are the executive producers of the musical ‘Sisterella‘, the black adaptation of“Cinderella”, which opened at the Pasadena Playhouse in California, USA on March 17, 1996 and was a huge sucess. Jackson attends the last showing of the play. The ‘Sisterella’ stage production also appeared in some parts of Europe, such as Germany (in December, 1996), and premiered in Melbourne, Australia at ‘The Regent Theatre’ on March 7, 1998. Jackson was a renowned fairytale fanatic. “Cinderella”, or “The Little Glass Slipper“ is a classic folk tale embodying a myth-element of unjust oppression/triumphant reward. The title character is a young woman living in unfortunate circumstances which suddenly change to remarkable fortune. The word “cinderella” has come to mean one whose attributes are unrecognised, or one who unexpectedly achieves recognition or success after a period of obscurity and neglect. Larry Hart, who wrote the book, music, and lyrics for the black adapted story, is a Grammy-award-winning gospel singer and song writer and also stars in “Sisterella”. Michael Jackson became involved with the production of this play when Hart presented the original music tracks to him. Jackson saw the potential of Sisterella‘s music and immediately acquired the soundtrack rights and signed Larry Hart to a solo record deal.
The show is set in New York in 1912. Multi-millionaire John Kensington has died and is survived by his daughter, Ella, his second wife, Dahlia and his stepdaughters, Magnolia and Chrysanthemum. Dahlia plays the role of the grieving widow, anticipating inheriting his entire estate valued at over 900 million dollars. Later, it is discovered that Ella is going to inherit the estate from her father, a fact that leaves her stepmother and two stepsisters jealous and disturbed. In an attempt to secure the inheritance for themselves, the evil stepfamily devises a cowardly plot for Ella’s demise. There’s a prince and even the fairy Godfigure in this play, as well as lawyers, a court case and a trial. And a very happy ending. “Sisterella”, has got dynamic staging, lavish costuming, lighting and special effects, rousing toe-tapping, hand-clapping music with lyrics that are clever, funny and satirical. Choreographer Raymond Del Barrio combines ballet with modern dance, waltzes, moonwalks, acrobatics and other styles invigorating the stage. “Sisterella” wins a staggering 8 NAACP Theater Awards at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in the United States.
Jackson to Produce New Musical : Theater: Self-described King of Pop will give financial backing to ‘Sisterella,’ scheduled to open in Pasadena in March.
Michael Jackson will serve as executive producer for a new musical, “Sisterella,” which is scheduled to have its world premiere at the Pasadena Playhouse in March.
This is the first entry into musical theater for the self-proclaimed King of Pop. There appear to be ultimate designs for a Broadway production of the work, an original musical based on the fairy tale “Cinderella.”
“Sisterella,” set in turn-of-the-century New York, is the first musical written by Larry Hart, a singer and songwriter who won a 1978 Grammy Award for his gospel performance of the song “What a Friend” and has written songs for Johnny Cash and Engelbert Humperdinck, among others.
Jackson’s involvement in the venture is apparently only financial–he will not appear in the production or write any of the music or lyrics. The music and the spectacle of the planned production, though, will reflect his sensibilities, according to Michael Sande, director of marketing and publicity for the Pasadena Playhouse.
“When you hear it and see it, it’s the type of music Michael Jackson would sing himself,” Sande said Tuesday. “It’s all sorts of music, very contemporary, and is going to be a huge dance-production show as well.”
Jackson could not be reached for comment Tuesday, and his representatives refused to talk about plans for “Sisterella,” saying that it was premature to discuss the pop superstar’s role in the production. Sande said that the project was initiated by Hart, who brought some songs to Jerry Greenberg, the president of Jackson’s MJJ Records company. Greenberg, who will also serve as an executive producer, then took it to Jackson, who gave the go-ahead.
Hart subsequently developed the book and music through reader workshops at New York’s Musical Theatre Works, the same organization that did the workshops for Disney’s hugely successful “Beauty and the Beast.” It was the directors of Musical Theatre Works, which will also be listed as co-presenters of “Sisterella,” who suggested debuting the show in Pasadena.
A concept album of the musical already has been recorded, but a release date has not yet been set, according to Anthony Stimac, artistic director of Musical Theater Works. Rain Pryor, daughter of comedian Richard Pryor, sings on the album as one of the stepsisters. Stimac said that Rain Pryor will appear in the production as well.
“More and more shows don’t premiere on Broadway anymore,” Sande said. “Regional theaters are starting shows like the ‘How to Succeed in Business’ revival with Matthew Broderick, which started [at the La Jolla Playhouse], as did ‘Tommy.’ ”
Because of Jackson’s involvement, “Sisterella” could become a financial godsend for the Pasadena Playhouse, which during the past year has been struggling to keep its head above water. The theater and Musical Theatre Works in New York “will have a financial interest in the future of the show,” Sande said, though he declined to be specific about how large the interest will be.
The playhouse’s former management company, Theatre Corp. of America, filed for bankruptcy protection in March. Theatre Corp. had been saddled with enormous debts stemming from a massive expansion to other Southern California cities, and its largest creditor is the playhouse. Theatre Corp. officials also blamed last year’s revenue shortfall at the playhouse on low attendance stemming from the Northridge earthquake as well as general economic conditions.
The playhouse borrowed $200,000 from the city of Pasadena a year ago to keep its programming going. But since then, attendance and fund-raising have improved.
Besides “Sisterella,” the playhouse also announced two other new plays for the 1996 winter/spring season. The season will open with the Jan. 14-Feb. 18 premiere of “Same Time, Another Year,” Bernard Slade’s sequel to his hit comedy “Same Time, Next Year,” about a couple who meet for an adulterous liaison once a year. Tom Troupe and Barbara Rush will star, and Slade will direct.
The season will conclude with Jack LoGiudice’s “In the Moonlight Eddie,” about a Broadway playwright whose latest opening night is altered by a secret revealed by his son. It’s scheduled for May 19-June 23.
The move into theater for MJJ follows the company’s movie successes with the two “Free Willy” films and seems natural for Jackson, who starred in the 1978 film version of the musical “The Wiz” and once was discussed as a potential star of a movie musical of “Peter Pan.”
Jackson recently switched agencies for representation as an actor in film projects.