Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella at RWM: A Review

Last December 29, my family and I watched the theater musical “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella” at the Newport Performing Arts theater in Resorts World. Thanks to my sister’s free tickets, we were able to add some glitz to our holiday celebration.

When my sister asked us if we were willing to avail of her free tickets and watch Cinderella, I was a bit hesitant. What will you get out of watching that same old children’s story? Also, watching a theater musical requires someone to be presentable at the venue, which takes a lot of effort from me. :p When the day of the showing arrived, my father was even asking us if he still needed to come. In sum, our hopes were not high. We did not expect to be amazed.

When we arrived at Newport, we learned that Christian Bautista and Karylle Tatlonghari would not be leading the cast. Although we know that the alternates can of course hold a candle to the two mentioned, we were a bit disappointed. We set ourselves to the huge theater, which I found enthralling.  The red curtain at the stage reminded me of the movie ‘The Phantom of the Opera’.

The show started with the introduction of the cast through the gigantic TV screens placed at both sides of the stage. I was delighted to see the names of Pinky Marquez, as Cinderella’s stepmother, and Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, as the Fairy Godmother. As far as I know, both are fine theater actresses. And true enough, they did not disappoint. For me, the two were the most outstanding of the cast. Their singing prowess, diction and accent were very much fitting to the strong characters they portrayed.

The alternates for Bautista and Tatlonghari were young theater actors. Justine Peña portrayed Cinderella, and Fred Lo was Prince Christopher. For a person who is not into theater musicals, both actors were virtually unheard of. When their faces were displayed on the giant TV screens, I could not remind myself of any show where I had seen them. Nevertheless, the starring couple were really good actors. Lo was charming and gave a princely vibe (not the negative though). He was a great singer too, with a voice that was similar with Bautista. Peña reminded me of a Disney princess. Her speaking voice was so sweet, it made me feel that I am watching a Disney movie. Her singing was, I can say, perfect! I was converted into a fan of both thespians.

Apart from the actors and the great acting, the set and the props were beyond amazing. The high-technology, enormous, LED screen that served as the background seemed to transport the audience to the place that it portrayed. The stairways, the fireplace and Cinderella’s carriage did not let themselves be left behind. The cherry on top of the pie was Cinderella’s costume change. The audience was distracted by this firework and voila, Cinderella’s attire suddenly change from the peasant costume to the ball gown in the blink of an eye.  

Cinderella, being a musical, is a chockfull of melodious and dreamy songs. My favorites are “Ten Minutes Ago” and “Do I love you because you’re beautiful”.

The show ended with a curtain call and a surprise appearance from Christian Bautista, which of course elicited a loud applause from the audience. Thanks to Cinderella, I am glad to say that I ended 2013 with a bang.

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