As I mentioned in my previous blog entry, I saw Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella last August 10. I must admit, I only saw it because my mom wanted to, and since it was her birthday, I had to agree. Of course I’ve always wanted to see Lea Salonga perform live, but I would have preferred to see her in Les Miserables or Miss Saigon. In fact, I foolishly asked if Cinderella was the one with the song that goes “I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream…” (I found out later it was actually Disney’s Sleeping Beauty).
I bought the tickets pretty late, so what we got were at the row farthest from the stage. It was seriously waaaay back so that we couldn’t see their faces at the finale because Cinderella and the Prince got married at a raised platform. In fact, during the entire performance (when they weren’t in a raised platform yet), if we wanted to see their faces, we had to use an object called the “eye-max,” which was sold outside the theater for Php50.00. As the name suggests, it’s supposed to maximize your eyesight, like disposable binoculars, and it gave me a headache because my hands were shaky.
I really, really wish I saw the 1957 movie version (starring Julie Andrews) or even the 1997 version (starring Brandy) or at least listened to the soundtrack before watching the show so that I would be more familiar with the story line and the songs. Since I haven’t seen the previous versions, the following things surprised me about the story:
1. In the fairy tale version I read when I was a kid, I don’t remember Cinderella talking that much with her stepsisters, or even her stepmother. I was surprised in this version that she not only talks with them, she even sings with them. I liked it better this way though, because it adds more chances for humorous interaction.
2. I always thought Cinderella knew from the start that her godmother was a fairy godmother. That was why I was so surprised when she kept talking about her dreams to her godmother, and I wondered why she won’t just go and ask her fairy godmother directly to turn her into a princess. It only dawned on me later that Cinderella only found out about the magical powers when her godmother made her dreams come true.
3. I’ve always assumed since I was a kid that it was the fairy godmother’s idea to turn the squash into a golden carriage, and the mice into horses, and so on. I thought she did it as a gift to Cinderella, to make up for all the injustices she had to suffer. In this version, it was Cinderella who thought and dreamed of going to the ball and all the other details. The godmother even discouraged her at the beginning, saying that it was “impossible for a plain yellow pumpkin to become a golden carriage.”
4. I was surprised why the godmother sent the soldiers who were trying on the glass slippers to the cellar, when Cinderella had left the house earlier. Didn’t she know Cinderella wasn’t there?
5. I was rather taken aback when Cinderella went to the Prince’s garden without, uh, getting caught by any guards. I suppose security was lax around castles during those times.
6. In this version, I was shocked that the Prince conversed with the “kitchen-maid” Cinderella without even recognizing that it was the “princess” he was looking for, even when she repeated lines she used when they first met. In the 1957 movie version, when the Prince saw Cinderella dressed in her ordinary clothes, he immediately recognized her and said, “I have found you at last!” or something like that. It makes more sense that way. Of course, having him not recognize her immediately got a couple of laughs from the appreciative crowd, like when:
– she was about to leave, and he shouted, “Stop! I command you!” Cinderella asked, “Why?” and he replied, “I don’t know.”
– the fairy godmother turned Cinderella to the opposite direction. She had her head down and thought she was walking away from the Prince, but since the direction got changed, she ended up walking towards the Prince, and he said in surprise, “I thought you were leaving.”
The show was really breath-taking – the costumes were very bright and colorful and exactly how I imagined fairy tale outfits would look. The backdrop and stage design were amazing – even the round door which looked a bit too much like that in Bilbo Baggins’ home in The Lord of the Rings. I also liked how some of the other dancers would be left in the stage dancing while the others were moving props around, so that there was never a dull moment on stage.
Here are some of the things I really really loved about the show:
1. When Cinderella was singing, “In My Own Little Corner” and there was a shadow play in the background. For example, when she sung “I’m a mermaid dancing upon the sea,” you could clearly see the shadow of a mermaid.
2. When the herald came out, announcing that his name was Hark. There was dead silence, until he said, “Hark, the herald,” then everyone burst out laughing.
3. When the “healthy” stepsister (I forgot her name) came out in various outfits that all made her look like a pineapple. Even her bridesmaid gown was shaped like a pineapple, which was so hilarious and added a comic touch to her already comical character.
4. When the King was complaining about how much the party was going to cost, he said something about today’s high prices, which got a sympathetic chuckle from everyone in the audience.
5. When the squash turned into a golden carriage. I kept wondering how they’d do it, and I was not disappointed. It looked very magical and was very nicely done.
6. When the kitchen-maid Cinderella was standing near her godmother, then walked towards the back of the carriage, and emerged seconds later dressed in a billowing gown. I was shocked, and only figured out later on that they must have put in another kitchen-maid Cinderella while Lea Salonga was hiding behind the carriage.
7. When the “horses” – who were actually dancers with horse headgears – galloped away with synchronized dance steps. It was so funny and brilliant at the same time.
8. When Cinderella was about to recite the Prince’s complete name, and he stopped her by saying, “You can call me Christopher,” and she said something like, “Oh, but I can’t call you that until after we’re married.” That was a really funny faux pas, and I could almost feel Cinderella blushing after she said it.
9. When the Prince sung “Do I love you because you’re beautiful, or are you beautiful because I love you?” That is probably the most beautiful line ever written.
At first I thought that Lea Salonga was too old to play Cinderella – a role I always imagined for someone younger. I thought it should have been about Brandy’s age when she did her version of Cinderella, although I didn’t really like that one as much as I liked the Julie Andrews or the Lea Salonga version.
So anyway, to conclude this rather lengthy piece containing my memories of the show (and some side-comments about the other versions), I have to ask myself: Did I like it because it was beautiful, or was it beautiful because I liked it?
I suppose the answer is a combination of both.