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Ashputtel: The Story of Cinderella

November 3, 2012

Event: Ashputtel : The Story of Cinderella
Run: 25 Oct – 17 Nov 2012
Venue: Alliance Francaise Theatre
Directed by: Christina Sergeant
Written by: Dwayne Lau
Score by: Julian Wong
Produced by: Brian Seward
Cast: Matilda Chua, Edward Choy, Julie Wee, Audrey Luo, Serena Ho, Tan Shou Chen, Adelynn Tan, Sara Wee

Many of us are familiar with the story of Cinderella, especially Perrault’s version, as used by Disney. However, there are many variations, and I Theatre has taken the Grimm brothers’ version, Ashputtel, as the basis for their latest musical venture.

We are greeted in an opening scene with an umbrella dance as the song “Always Be Good” was introduced by Ashputtel (Matilda Chua) recounting her late mother’s instructions to be good. A dove would always be nearby, like her mother watching over her, as was evident throughout the show. The use of the umbrellas was innovative, as the extending and retracting gave some formation like flowers blooming and closing. However, the sounds in that action were quite distinct (maybe some oiling needed?) and was slightly out of place in the show as it was not used again. Not a big issue. I felt the opening scene was somewhat tinged on a heavier note for a children’s production, of which I would have preferred it to be along the lines of maybe being slightly sad (as she misses her mother) but yet hopeful. It’s could be just my preference. However, this tone was soon dispelled with the colourful and animated performance by the cast as the story unfolded.

The show though keeping to a more or less traditional setting was injected with an occasional modern and Asian reference. Colours were used to differentiate the characters, like how Ashputtel was donned in white (and gold) to represent good.

A notable performance was put up by Julie Wee who was convincing as the evil stepmother, making one feel indignant by the way Cinderella was treated. Tan Shou Chen played multiple roles as father, servant and narrator, which helped carry the story through. Shou Chen’s been quite active this year as I’ve seen him in quite a few productions. One of the fun parts of the show was the interaction between audience and cast when the Prince (Edward Choy) came to find someone in the audience to try on the shoe. Good that the people were game. Another fun part was the flying of “bloody” “toe” and “heel” into the audience when the evil stepsisters “cut” them off to try to fit in the shoe. It’s kind of gross but well, all in theatrical fun. I think the music followed a good flow in the story too.

It’s always a joy to watch children’s theatre. That creation of magic and wonder on stage plays such an important part in exposing children to theatre in a simple but effective way, and also imparting some wise morale of life. Looking forward to the next I Theatre production.

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