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A night with Moliere and Cinderella

Meet Moliere.

He’s my new friend. We met at Cinderella. He was doing a spot of commentary on the play when he wandered into our box. He’s a very witty fellow but strange. His name is French but his idiom is unmistakably Cockney.

<< That’s him, mugging for my camera, sticking his fat pink nose right into my lens. Behind him, you can just make out the stage and the big curtain with the glass slipper logo.

This picture was taken about fifteen minutes before the play started; which explains why I still have the camera out.

Here,s Moliere explaining the difference between the box where I was sitting and the gallery down below. “That’s where the poor people are, luv.” He says, with a naughty twinkle in his eye.

But when I looked closely, I saw diplomats and businessmen down there. “Oh them?” Moliere sniffed. “They’re slumming. Who knows? They might actually find a princess disguised as a cinder girl down there. This is Cinderella after all, and sometimes, life does imitate art.”

On and on, Moliere went with his silly prattle. I would have knocked him over the railing, but he was too cute. And anyway, the curtain was already beginning to rise, and the play was about to start. I wasn’t about to inflict a garrulous white rat on the people down below.

The play started out with a painfully plain set. All the better, I suppose, to concentrate focus on Cinderella scrubbing the floor. Right away, it was very clear – as if it weren’t clear enough from the title – that this was Rodgers and Hammerstein; not Walt Disney. I imagined a lot of kids would be disappointed.

The Rodgers and Hammerstein version was written for television and originally starred Julie Andrews. Because of the medium, the production lacked the grandeur of other productions – and the songs were not terribly engaging. Eventually, the production was re-done several times, including in balck-face with Whitney Houston as the fairy godmother.

Lea Salonga’s Cinderella I think, reflected that because its fairy god mother was a buxom black woman who laughed and talked like Big Momma. Many times, I almost expected her to snap her fingers in a Z. LOL!

But she did have a good voice. The only good one, in fact, apart from Cinderella’s. And speaking of voices – and since I did mention the songs already – I can’t remember all of ’em, but here’s a try:

1. “Overture” (instrumental)
2. “The Prince Is Giving A Ball” (Herald and Chorus)
3. “In My Own Little Corner” (Cinderella)
4. “Royal Dressing Room Scene” (King, Queen, Chef, Steward)
5. “In My Own Little Corner” (Reprise) (Cinderella)
6. “Impossible; It’s Possible” (Cinderella and Fairy Godmother)
7. “Ten Minutes Ago” (Prince and Cinderella)
8. “Stepsisters’ Lament” (Stepsisters)
9. “Waltz for a Ball” (instrumental and Chorus)
10. “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful?” (Prince and Cinderella)
11. “A Lovely Night” (Cinderella, Stepmother, Stepsisters)

Anyway, Lea Salonga’s voice was – pitch perfect as always. But it was a little too solid for me. I mean, it was like being so overwhelmed with the technical excellence of it that it left little room for the wistfulness of ‘in my own little corner‘ – where the cinder girl indulges her imagination with a tinge of sadness that the wonderful worlds she found herself in could, in fact, be found only in her imagination; or the aching for love that should have risen to the top of her quaver in ‘ten minutes ago;’ or the delicious bewilderment of ‘do i love you because you’re beautiful.’

There were moments when Salonga’s acting chops really showed – like in her reaction to realizing that she had told the Prince she wouldn’t call him by his given name til after they were married. There was something very vintage Julie Andrews in that wide-eyed expression she gave. But over all, her singing and acting left me rooting more for the over-top sisters – Portia and Joy – than for the heroine of the title.

I also need to point out that the scene early on where she feeds the two woodpile rats was so lame. Fortunately, the transformation of the pumpkin more than made up for that mini-disaster. That and Cinderella’s quick change from rags to sparkly dinner gown (my friend said there was a double). Particularly noteworthy for me were the horses. They a Twelfth Night-y look about them that I loved so much.

Quick observations about everyone else: the King and Queen were cute; the Prince had a whiny nasal voice that grated after 5 minutes – and the people in the other box kept calling him creepy. I had to agree; the Herald (named Hark) had a nice funny moment but otherwise blended into the background; the step-mom was so-so; and the step-sisters were, as I said, deliciously over the top.

All in all, it was a pleasant way to spend two hours, but it wasn’t spectacular. The sets were nicely ornate and all that, but again, technical excellence really can’t cut the cheese when the heart and soul of the story is supposed to be magic.

And on that, Moliere and I agreed wholeheartedly.

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Filed under: pop-culture, , , ,

2 Responses

  1. mikaela says:

    Cinderella Review Contest–

    Win her glass slippers! (A ‘Cinderella’ contest)

    for details visit:

    http://gibbscadiz.multiply.com/journal/item/942

    http://leasalongafansclub.multiply.com/notes/item/51

  2. chut says:

    were you in the nosebleed section?

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