Once Upon a Ten Minutes Ago

Who doesn’t love a good love story? Love at first sight. Butterflies. Floating on air. And happily ever after.

Right?

Of course not. Not in all the ways we want. We’ll get into that more next week, but this week we’re celebrating happy exciting beginnings – those feelings that spark and ignite and inspire life-changing action.

The song of inspiration this week (to be released on March 30) is ”Ten Minutes Ago” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Before all the flirting and wooing, something sparks. Before the Prince can marry his bride, he has to find her. And before the legendary movie goes bonkers all over the world, someone has to get an idea.   This is that story…

*Reminder* – As we mentioned last week, this month we are starting a new rhythm of releasing all of the songs on the last Saturday of the month. {UPDATED TO INCLUDE SONG!} March’s theme is musical theater and last week’s inspiration was the song “On the Street Where You Live.” Hope you enjoyed Nathan’s ridiculous embarrassing stories.

Did you know that Cinderella is the only Rodgers and Hammerstein musical written for television? Others were adaptations of stage plays. This was designed for the screen. It aired on March 31, 1957. That was 62 years ago.

TV adaptations of stage musicals were common in the mid 50s as this new medium was booming and the networks were seeking good family-friendly material. NBC brought the idea to Rodgers and Hammerstein to create an original made-for-TV production. Being new to this form, they sought advice from a man who was then the “Vice President in charge of color television” at CBS[1]. How’s that for a dated job title?

CBS was a step ahead of them, already wanting to do a similar project, and even having booked the star – a girl who was playing the lead in My Fair Lady on Broadway. Julie Andrews. Heard of her? All they needed was a show. R and H were stoked about collaborating with Julie, so they got right to work on this new venture.

With the industry parameters of a 90-minute program length and six commercial breaks, the story took place in six acts that took Hammerstein seven months to write. Less than six weeks before air date, rehearsals commenced. The recording process consisted of 56 actors, 33 musicians, and 80 other crew maneuvering around in a relatively small studio with four of these giant (as in 300-pounds) color cameras[2]:

330px-Telecamera_per_ripresa_televisiva_elettronica,_a_colori_-_Museo_scienza_tecnologia_Milano_10062_01_dia

(RCA TK-41, via Wikipedia)

Nowadays, movies are made with iPhones, solopreneurs with no tech crew make a living vlogging about their life, and a selfie stick does the job that in 1957 required the muscles of two grown men. We’ve come a long ways.

Normally during the prime Sunday evening time slot scheduled for the film’s broadcast, one would have been tuning in to the now iconic The Ed Sullivan Show, at the time in the 9th of its 23-year run. To plug the premier of Cinderella, Richard and Oscar themselves were guests on the variety show the week before the film aired.

Hours into researching this production I realized something mind-blowing, prompted by this sentence:

“The 1957 premiere had been broadcast before videotape was available, so only one performance could be shown.”[3]

What?

My 21st century brain hadn’t even registered the fact that this original broadcast wasn’t a “film” at all. IT WAS PERFOMED LIVE!!!!   Like – the actors were actually doing their stuff while little Tommy and Barbara and the other 107 million viewers across North America watched from their living rooms! Tell me I’m not the only one who didn’t understand this until now.

The model of live variety and comedy shows made sense, but an actual feature movie for the whole nation to watch? Wow. That’s gumption. We officially have no more excuses for avoiding Facebook Live. Nathan! Get the kids to help you haul out the camera! We’re going live!

The development of tape recording technology evolved in the 50s and 60s such that subsequent film versions have been more widely distributable, but a kinescope of the original broadcast was preserved and you can sneak a peak on YouTube.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little bit of history behind the song. We look forward to sharing it with you later this month!

Fun facts – the 2013 Broadway version starred Minnesota native Laura Osnes, whose husband Nate Johnson went to Northwestern College here in St. Paul when Nathan was there as a student. The 2011 Ordway Theatre production of Cinderella starred Jessica Frederickson, whose husband Aleks Knezevich was one of the original NorrSound Tenors when A Three Tenor’s Christmas was started here at Wooddale. Jessica keeps hitting it out of the park with lead roles at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinderella_(musical)
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RCA_TK-40/41
[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinderella_(musical)

LYRICS:
“Ten Minutes Ago” words by Oscar Hammerstein II, music by Richard Rodgers
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Ten minutes ago, I saw you,
I looked up when you came thru the door,
My head started reeling, You gave me the feeling the room had no ceiling or floor.

 Ten minutes ago, I met you,
And we murmured our how-do-you-do’s,
I wanted to ring out the bells and fling out my arms and to sing out the news.

I have found her! She’s an angel
With the dust of the stars in her eyes.
We are dancing, we are flying
And she’s taking me back to the skies.

 In the arms of my love, I’m flying
Over mountain and meadow and glen
And I like it so well, that for all I can tell, I may never come down again!

I may never come down to earth again.