Review Roundup: CINDERELLA by Resorts World Manila

Manila, Philippines, November 18, 2013--Resorts World Manila presents Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella." Leading the show's star-studded cast are Karylle as Cinderella and Christian Bautista as the Prince. The beloved musical, which opened at Newport Performing Arts Theater Wednesday, October 9, is directed by veteran stage actor Michael Williams.


Alternating for the title role are Singapore-based Filipino actress Julia Abueva and Justine Peña. Fred Lo is alternating for the role of the Prince. Noted theater actresses Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo and Pinky Marquez are playing the role of the Fairy Godmother.

Let's see what the critics had to say.

Rowena Tan, Manila Bulletin: Imagine this magical transformation: Cinderella's little friends, the rats, turn into shiny horses; the pumpkin becomes a carousel; and her clothes transform into a gorgeous white ball gown. It was just... awesome, especially aided by the stunning lighting effects...

While in our minds our prince and princess live happily ever after, the audience leaves the theater just as blissfully, feeling the love.

Vladimir Bunoan, The songs are hummable enough - like the waltz-y "Ten Minutes Ago" and the show-stopping "Impossible" - but "Cinderella" is clearly not in the same league - both musically and literarily -- as the other Rodgers and Hammerstein classics like "South Pacific" and "Carousel."

As such, one really needs some magic to elevate "Cinderella" into something more than just a children's production. Williams and the creative team succeeded in doing that. Fully utilizing the ample size of the Resorts World theater, South African set designer Andrew Botha created giant set pieces that amazingly glide across the large stage, as if unfolding like paper cutouts. The grand staircase that moves lends the show with a sense of panorama, while Cinderella's carriage is nothing less than enchanting.

"Cinderella" may not have the heft of "The King and I" or the timeless tunes of "The Sound of Music," but those looking for wholesome family entertainment, especially with little girls who dream of becoming Disney princesses in tow, will find Resort World's latest production captivating.

Jewel Chuaunsu, Aside from the performances, the show's winning formula is the fantastic stage design by Andrew Botha. How do you measure up to Walt Disney's Cinderella? With the clever use of animation, of course. The stage scenery includes a massive video wall that shows flat and 3D animated illustrations of the different locations, from the town, to Cinderella's house, to the palace. This presents endless possibilities for setting and scene changes. The quaint illustrations, similar to that of a storybook, are jazzed up with layers, motion, and precise transitions, creating an immersive world. There are also video screens flanking the stage, providing a live feed of the action onstage, as well as close-ups. The more traditional set design includes a grand staircase and an enormous fireplace.

The songs, performance, and multi-media stage design all come together to bring the fairy tale to life. It may not achieve the perfection of the Walt Disney animated film, but it holds its own.

Vincen Gregory Yu, Philippine Daily Inquirer: ...under Williams' watch, this "Cinderella" is as compact as possible. Moving the story forward takes precedence; all other concerns--the theatrics, the songs, the dance numbers (choreography by James Laforteza)--must bend to the story.

That, without sacrificing nuance and artistry. For instance, the scene where the Prince searches for the foot that fits the slipper is now an amusing pantomime featuring the ladies of the kingdom and the steward Lionel (Red Concepcion, hilariously scene-stealing all throughout).

The more potent magic of "Cinderella," however, is the result of how Williams steered his cast to attack their characters. This production's refreshing appeal stems from the full-blooded characterizations; for such a grandiose fairy tale, the characters are surprisingly earthbound, "un-magical," real.

Thus, we have the likes of Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo's fairy godmother, a motherly figure whose parenting style is anchored on tough love. (Though, it must be said, Lauchengco-Yulo looks more like the queen of the sea in her cape of purple scallop shell, and her talents are atrociously underused in this three-scene role).

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Oliver Oliveros Oliver Oliveros recently received a master's degree in public relations and corporate communication from New York University while serving as regional director for, where he accepted an Award for Excellence in 2013.

For nearly 20 years, Oliver has been handling public relations, corporate communication, and integrated marketing communications for numerous brands (including Pepsi), Broadway shows, Broadway stars, non-profit organizations, and mainstream celebrities.

He is also the editor-in-chief for FIL-AM WHO'S WHO, a monthly magazine that tells the real-life success stories of Filipino Americans from the New York Tri-State area.

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