Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Night Of Magic With Cinderella

There's something about fairytales that still enchants us, no matter what age we may be. Despite many re-tellings and adaptations of various fairytales, we view each version with fresh eyes, as if it would be the first time to watch, no matter how much the story was read  to us as children. I've both read and watched several versions of the story Cinderella. When I was a child, there was a constant debate with an old playmate on who was the better princess - Snow White or Cinderella, which went on for months it needed grownup intervention. I liked Cinderella more because of the story and the songs. Maybe it's her affinity towards animals (errr, maybe except the part that she's friends with mice) or she had super cute shoes and she had a calming voice as she sang "Sing Sweet Nightingale" while doing her house chores.

Just last night, I watched yet another version of Cinderella, this time a full-length ballet production brought by Ballet Manila. This show is choreographed by none other than Ballet Manila's artistic director herself, Lisa Macuja-Elizalde (who also portrays Cinderella's Fairy Godmother).

Lisa Macuja Elizalde portrays Cinderella's Fairy Godmother.
Photo by Ocs Alvarez 
As a ballet dancer,  Lisa herself has never had the chance to portray Cinderella (describing this role as "the one that got away") .  Now, she interprets not just the role of this princess but also the other characters that make up this story as she, along with Osias Barroso choreograph this full-length ballet show.

Cinderella with her evil stepsisters. 
The fairy tale Cinderella teaches us to continue dreaming and believing as well as to have courage and be kind. As Danielle de Barbarac (in Ever After, a movie also based on Cinderella), she takes matters as well in her own hands and takes charge of her life. Being a very popular fairy tale and whatever version you might remember, Cinderella has a way of reaching out to us. What makes this ballet version of Cinderella special is that this has a universal appeal to both adults and children alike. The musical score includes familiar music from two very popular versions of the fairy tale - the Disney version (A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes, Bibbid-Bobbid-Boo, Work Song, So This is Love, etc)  and the Rodgers and Hammerstein version (Ten Minutes Ago, Stepsister's Lament). I remember during the press preview, the little girl beside me was so excited when "A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes" played and was humming to it. Using music from the popular versions makes it easily appreciated even by those who do not watch ballet on a regular basis. It sort of ties everything together making it relatable from parents to children and even to someone who would be watching a full-length ballet for the first time.

A bit of magic, hope, and love. The Fairy Godmother arrives and gives Cinderella comfort.

colorful costumes as Cinderella meets her prince at the ball
The costumes and sets were full of color and all things gorgeous and sparkly. Cinderella's blue ball gown costume kind of reminds me as well of the gown the princess wore in the movie version, the one with Lily Cole (at one point, I looked if there would be a glass slipper version of pointe shoes). I must also commend the costume change from Cinderella's rags to her ball gown that happened in the finale of Act 1 because that was literally almost like magic happening onstage.  The costume of the Evil Stepmother (played by Jonathan Janolo in drag who gave the role a very lighthearted comedic flavor) reminded me as well of Lady Tremaine in the cartoon version, from the hair with the white streak down to the maroon dress. The atmosphere was very happy and light and with all the colors and sparkles, it kind of reminded me of happy childhood, reliving an old classic fairy tale we grew to love.

The Dance Tutor, Cinderella, and her Evil Stepmother
Photo by Ocs Alvarez
They also added several elements and characteristics  that give nod to modern times, such as the Dance Tutor who taught the Stepsisters how to dance for the ball. That probably had to be one of my most favorite scenes I was amused at the characterization of the dance instructor which actually reminds me of super stereotype  "fasyon" type of artist during modern times.

I was really enjoying the whole play I didn't realize the show would almost be over. The show was an entertainment to everyone.  The children in the audience were very happy and identifying characters and getting excited. This is so perfect in welcoming December and the Holidays are coming and amidst the Christmas rush and the stress and the horrible traffic that gets worse every single day of our lives, we just need something that make us feel good and just feel happy. With what's happening, we certainly need good vibes and optmism and just relive the magic we enjoyed as kids.

Cinderella by Ballet Manila would have another show today at 3 pm as well as two other shows next weekend: Dec 3 at 8 pm and another one on December 4 at 3 pm (perfect for a whole family affair as the children won't stay up past bedtime). I promise a wonderful family affair for everyone.

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