The upcoming production of ‘Cinderella: A Trinidad and Tobago Musical’ by the newly-revived Bagasse Company promises a uniquely Trinidadian experience. Co-producer/director Aaron Schneider said “it’s the first Cinderella story being retold using the narrative of a country other than its home country. It‘s completely coloured with and driven by the same motivational forces that would have been in place in Trinidad post-slavery, so we have the sounds, the patois, the tassa, the African drums, as well as the post-colonial whites, mulattos, and slaves. It’s a completely new script but placed locally in a time period we know with historical imagery, visuals and fashions that would tell of the times and still touch it a little bit with the magic wand to make it a fairy tale story. It’s all new music written by Juliet Agard,who composed ‘A Brighter Day’ which won several Cacique Awards, all new score, all new choreography, a lot of new talent and a lot of known talent as well.”
“Our forces of good and evil find root in Papa Bois, the protector of the forest, the protector of all things innocent while our evil stepmother comes from localized stories that have birth in French tradition, that came here with the French and was Africanized through the Middle Passage and came out with our own unique tongue, so what makes the difference is that Cinderella speaks with a Trinidadian tongue.”
“We’re treating it as a fairy-tale because we want kids in the age bracket from five-years-old to as old as they’re willing to believe in magic, to come away from this with a solidified and standardized Caribbean fairy-tale that doesn’t just hide behind some light dustings of a Trinidadian accent and maybe one stereotypical characterization that is a caricature of who we’re supposed to be, but an equal treatment of the Trinidadian experience throughout the whole play. I believe that if this is done successfully, and we’re hoping and praying that it is, we would have ignited a spark in the minds of many young actors, writers and children.”
Schneider said the play is a relaunch of the company on the local threatre scene after a seven-year hiatus. “Bagasse Company dates back to the early 80’s or probably late 70’s, and the trajectory was to bring theatre that was not mainstream in T&T into the mainstream. The last memorable show we did was Jesus Christ Superstar in 2005, with a repeat in 2006, and then we shut down operations until now.”
“This show is really an opportunity for the kids and the younger actors involved to try their hands at applying many different styles to bring forth characterizations and dramatize roles. It really was a sort of workshopping process in disguise because we’re rehearsing for an actual show, but it has given a lot of the actors who maybe would not have experienced this kind of acting the opportunity to really try their hand at it. I keep thinking that we try so hard to appear on stage to be real and serious and straight, yet it takes just as much craft or even more craft to be able to play that same character and bring the whimsy and the fancy that makes it into a fairy-tale.It’s a chance to try their hand at something that allows them to go so far and then pull back as opposed to coming on stage afraid of going too far and being too dramatic.”
The cast and crew will be well-known to the T&T theatre-going public, “Our primary Cinderella is Aurora Tardieu and our prince is Stephen Hadeed Jr. The stepmother is Leslie-Ann Lavine, while Kyle Richardson plays the Prince’s best friend/page, which is an entirely new character, Cinderella‘s best friend, a mouse, is played by Kevin Humphrey, Cherysh Le-Anne La Touche is the fairy godmother, Michelle Tardieu plays the Queen/Caciqua, the Prince’s mother, Cinderella‘s father is Kareem Mansford-Griffith and we have a host of chorus members and dancers. An interesting twist is that in preparation for the play, each character had its own Facebook page to engage the public over social media and it was well received.
“The directors and producers are myself and Christine Johnson, the script was written by Christine Johnson and Aurora Tardieu, music is being composed by Juliet Agard with assistance from Aurora Tardieu and Kyle Richardson, lighting designer is Benny Gomes, choral conductor is Wendy-Ann Austin, musical development and creative input for music is Aurora Tardieu and Kyle Richardson, set design Aaron Schneider, costume design Sean Edwards, music production Jason Dasent and choreographer Juan-Pablo Javier Alba Dennis.”
The production ran in SAPA September 17 to 20, and will be at Queen’s Hall from September 25 to 29, with school shows on September 28 and 29. School shows are at 10 am, Sunday matinees are at 2 pm, Sunday night shows are at 6:30 pm and on the other nights, shows are at 8:30 pm.
Further details can be found at www.cinderellatt.com or on Facebook at Cinderella: The Trinidad and Tobago Musical.