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Seeing Broadway’s First Black Cinderella

Cinderella on Broadway Shop Tees | The Girl Next Door is BlackWhen I heard of Keke Palmer’s casting as the first black Cinderella on Broadway, I didn’t imagine I’d end up seeing the show in person!

It was a girls night out: sisters and groups of friends; an adorable Girl Scout troop of mostly pre-tween and tween black girls and quite a few mother/daughter pairings attended. One little girl dressed like a little lady wearing pearls and donning an updo, accompanied by her very chic and sophisticated mother who wore an enviable black cape, melted my heart. I attend a lot of plays and as I snarked to my sister, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many black people at a play in my life” [Chitlin’ circuit excluded]. I’m so used to being one of few. Even when I saw Porgy and Bess recently, whose cast is majority black, my friend and I were two of a countable number of black people in attendance. I found the audience diversity refreshing.

Keke Palmer delighted as Cinderella. To think that she’s only 21 and has already accomplished so much in her life. Her talent seems boundless.

Sherri Shepherd starred as Cinderella’s mean stepmother. I have had mixed feelings for Sherri in the past. I attended the same acting school she did, years after she moved on, and as one of the school’s success stories, Sherri was often a topic of conversation. It was her stint on The View that soured me though (“I don’t know if the earth is flat” anyone?). I wasn’t sure what to expect from her performance. I’m happy to share that she played the hell out of her character – a hilariously wicked stepmother. I enjoyed ever minute she spent onstage.

The show itself was wonderfully produced, surprisingly funny, and even magical at times. They pulled off the fastest, most seamless costume changes I’ve ever witnessed. After the show, I hustled my sister to the side stage door to wait for the cast to come out and sign autographs.

Both Keke and Sherri braved the chill to take photos with and sign autographs for each and every fan waiting. Impressively, Sherri listened patiently as one fan tried to promote her singing talent to Sherri. Even though the woman had no demo, no videos of her performing or even business cards, Sherri gave her helpful tips for building a foundation for a singing career – even though as she said, “I can’t really do anything for you. I don’t have those connections.” That really endeared her to me.

After our successful celebrity encounters, we headed to Junior’s for a late post-show dinner and to relive our fantastic evening over cheesecake.

With Keke Palmer After Broadway Show | The Girl Next Door is Black
Keke is the sweetest. She told my sister (who is around the same age, has loved her since ‘True Jackson, VP’ and thinks of her as her “best friend in her head”) that she loved her lipstick and asked her where she got it. Then she told us we were “beautiful girls.” Aw, Keke.
Meeting Sherri Shepherd on Broadway | The Girl Next Door is Black
Sherri is so kind and patient with the crowd. She looked much slimmer too; whatever she’s doing is working for her!