Cinderella Enchanted Edition
A production to remember, for all the right reasons... It has been three weeks since the closing night of Cinderella Enchanted and as we approach the end of 2022, we wanted to take a moment to cast one last spotlight on this magical musical.
With an expert production team, choreographers, costume team, tech and stage crew, the final product delivered, “a joyous night out, with lots of laughs and a big, emotional ending. [The] perfect show to open a winter holiday theatre season with” - review from Zuzanna Chmielewska (West End Evenings).
But one thing we want to draw attention to is that this particular cast boasted a range of ethnicities, backgrounds and orientations. Our wonderful director, Giusy Pappalardo, had a crystal clear vision for her version of Cinderella Enchanted and her dream did come true. Drawing inspiration from the 1997 film, she became dedicated to establishing a truly diverse cast - and succeeded. The three leading ladies (Priya Roy as Cinderella, Sara Rajeswaran as Fairy Godmother and Michelle Lokot as the Queen) hold testament to this: three incredibly talented performers with South Asian heritage.
Photography: (Image 3,4) Ashely Meerloo, (Image 5) Matt Tam
In Giusy’s words:
“A week ago today we were carrying on the last two performances of Cinderella Enchanted at the Bridewell.
If I have not spoken before is because life, which had been on hold for the entirety of show week, caught up with me, keeping me from fully processing the importance and beauty of what I had experienced.
Cinderella Enchanted was an idea I had cultivated for a long time - and I could never thank Centre Stage London enough for believing it was possible.
As a mixed-race person and an immigrant, way too often I have felt true diversity and inclusion were lacking in the industry and, as a performer, I somehow had to fight the feeling I had been cast to tick the diversity box or [conversely that was not “diverse” enough].
Having someone take a look at you and determine that your life, ancestry and cultural background does not fit a visual stereotype of who you effectively are, does hurt.
So, in my pitch process, I had specified I wanted to be as inclusive as I possibly could, giving a voice to minorities that do not often get the spotlight and going to the root of what “diverse” truly represents, at least to my eyes.
As it often happens, revolutions start with little personal battles.
And I could not be more grateful for the beautiful people that showed up to auditions and trusted me for weeks of rehearsals as I built my vision with their talents and contributions.
Beautiful people with beautiful souls and enormous skills- what more could a director ask for?
Their commitment, their personal background, their joyful storytelling- each and every one of them contributed to the show with their own unique, beautiful selves.
My creative team supported me throughout these weeks of rehearsals and show week and I will never be able to thank them enough.
The same goes for the producers, the costume and make-up team, the stage managers and tech team and of course the fantastic orchestra that graced the balcony of the Bridewell.
I still get emotional at the thought of the first few bars of the overture.
And thank you, beautiful audiences. You brought our show to life - thank you for supporting theatre and for supporting amateur dramatics AND supporting your friends.
Thank you for appreciating them and their work and encouraging them to follow their creative hearts.
I have been inundated with beautiful messages of people telling me how their friends and relatives have seen the show and have been inspired to get into singing and acting or to simply watch more shows - how the show uplifted them and made them believe they could be “whatever they want to be”.
Sing and dance.
Show up to auditions.
Do show up.
In the words of the Fairy God Mother, “ it is true, everything starts with a dream, but it is what you do with it that counts.”
I don’t know if I will direct another show in future, but I know that I had a ball with this one!”
This show proved to be a defining moment for many cast members involved, and for some the first opportunity to take on roles that they believed they would never be considered for. The lovely Priya Roy, who played Cinderella, shares her sentiments: “As a brown, queer woman I have spent most of my life hiding in little corners. My beliefs about self-worth and “impossible dreams” were reinforced by the structures in which we live, and the media that we consume. Being given the chance to play Cinderella was more than a dream come true – it was a reminder that I can choose to take up space in this world and show up as my unapologetically fabulous, authentic self. I hope the little brown girl in the tiara, sitting in the front row at the Saturday matinee, will grow up continuing to see people like her on stage - proudly taking up space and defiantly declaring: "I'm sorry, Stepmother, but I AM here!"
This show not only recognised and delivered the beauty and whimsy of a Rodger and Hammerstein production, but it also marks Centre Stage’s most diverse one yet and sets the precedent for many, many more to come.
Photography: Ashely Meerloo