Theater Review : Ballet Manila has challenged itself by presenting a not-so-traditional Christmas treat that surely delights both the kids and the once-kids

The Ballet Manila's Cinderella lead cast
Whenever the Holiday season arrives, the most common show that comes to mind is “The Nutcracker”. This time around, Ballet Manila has challenged itself by presenting a not-so-traditional Christmas treat that surely delights both the kids and the once-kids. They surely proved it was worth the try.

Although it is classic fairy tale as it is, Cinderella is not the usual show one can expect from a ballet company...much more during the holiday season. But as Lisa Macuja-Elizalde succinctly puts it in words--”In this jaded world, I still want to believe that wishes can still come true...and no matter how much evil may lurk around us, a kind and loving heart will always triumph in the end.”


The performance starts in the forest where Cinderella and her step sisters were collecting mushrooms for dinner. At that moment, the audience will already be mesmerized by how the animals and fairies of the forest have perfectly blended their graceful moves with the beauty that is Cinderella. Although the half sisters were mischievous as they are, the gleeful Cinderella and her smiles will surely warm the audience's’ heart.

The Step Mother and Cinderella
And just like in the fairy tale, the poor Cinderella had to suffer as well from the evil step mother (played to life by Jonathan Janolo) in a hilarious take that could put every evil step mother to shame.
But the amazing part does not stop there.

Aside from the flawless movements and captivating story telling, another highlight of the story is the audience interaction when the Prince Charming was looking for the rightful owner of the glass shoe! Three ladies from the audience got the surprise of their life when Prince Charming (played by Mark Sumaylo on the November 26 performance) asked for their hand and try the shoe. It literally brought the house down.

The glamorous ballroom
Also worth noting is the costume and set design. Both were glitzy and glamorous that would surely keep the audience’s eyes glued. The transition from the forest to the living room to the grand ballroom is so smooth one would really feel he is transported in another place and time. In fact, the audience were awed and surprised when Cinderella transformed from her lowly costume into the beautiful gown in a quick turn at the stage.

The beautiful fairy godmother (Lisa Macuja) and Cinderella
And of course, the show wouldn’t be complete without the dame herself Lisa Macuja-Elizalde who literally and figuratively played the role of the Fairy Godmother. (if not for her guidance and keen for details and choreography, the show wouldn’t be as fabulous and grandiose as it is)
And don’t forget a surprise character that stole the spotlight from Cinderella and Prince Charming. (Hint: this character is not a ballet dancer!)

Ballet Manila’s Christmas offering is an interpretation of a timeless classic that both the kids and adults would enjoy. It’s not just a visual delight, but an experience that would really make you believe once more how powerful a wish can be. And yes, even though Macuja-Elizalde admitted it was her most ambitious undertaking, it was surely worth every sweat. If there’s anything missing in Ballet Manila’s Christmas offering, it will be more shows so that more people can watch and enjoy the feeling of the magical power of dreaming, love and everything else in between.

A sweet happy ending
Cinderella will still have it’s run on December 3 (8 PM) and December 4 (3 PM) at the Aliw Theater. Who knows, they might extend their shows if more people will be clamoring for more performances. (After all, the classic fairy tale has thought us “a dream is a wish that your heart makes…”)

Written by : Erick Frago
Edited by : Axl Guinto
Photos by : Axl Guinto

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