Cinderella, the fairy tale
By Esther Williams
Cinderella, the fairy tale has always enchanted children the world over. Its magic was brought alive by The British School in Colombo in a Sri Lankanised version of the popular story on 18th and 19th February at the Lionel Wendt. Around 59 children of ages 7-11 participated in this junior school production.

Benjamin Aluwihare played the part of wicked step mother to perfection. Having acted in previous school productions, taking on the role of a woman did not pose too much of a problem. “It’s different and I have enjoyed it. I am supposed to hate Cinderella and I don’t feel sorry for her at all,” he laughs while admitting that he is really nice in real life.

Speaking of the long hours of practice they had all put it, Pranavan Rockwood who played the Prince says that he had the most fun dancing. “We also got to experience the olden days and what they wore,” said he. As for the title role, it was played by Marya Norat. “I had to learn ballroom dancing and lots of lines,” she said.

The ugly stepsisters played by Chetindra Siriwardane and Kimaya De Silva drew much laughter from the audience while Anne Marie De Silva looked the part of the enchanting fairy godmother. The stage props as also the costumes and make up were outstanding.

According to the Director of the Play, Lesley Holdsworth men often took on the role of women in Pantomimes in England. “We encouraged boys to fit the role as we felt it would bring in more,” she says.

Further, they had made adaptations to the script with references to local places to make it more hilarious. “We made the changes to connect with the audience,” adds another Director, Diedre Theogarajah. While the ball is in progress, the queen fervently wishes that her son would choose some one from Colombo 7, while guests arrive from Pettah and as far as Jaffna.

Naomi Perera spoke of the unique scenes they had introduced. It is during a dance sequence that begins with a disco and gradually turns into a ballroom dance with a parade of courtiers that the transformation of the animals into coach hands, the pumpkin into a carriage and Cinderella into her ball gown takes place. “We wanted the small children to see this almost magical transformation,” she explains.

Yet another scene that needs mention is that of the stepsisters who are terrorised by the mice and rats. The production team that began practices since October 2004 was delighted with the effort put in by the children. “They developed so much during the play and even the shy ones blossomed,” explains Ms. Theogarajah.

Dilani Perera directed the music using original tracks, some of which were changed to make the music more lively. The school’s modern dancing teacher Romina Guy choreographed the dances.

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