Thursday, 1 May 2008

Cinderella, May to October, 2008


by Gioachino Rossini, adapted by Elizabeth Hill & Christopher van Tuinen
by Oz Opera Schools Company
Touring Victorian Schools, May to October, 2008

Reviewer: Kate Herbert on May 1

Forty little children from two primary schools, one a school for hearing-impaired children, were enthralled by this abridged version by Oz Opera of Rossini’s Cinderella. 

This tasty morsel is forty-five minutes long, features four singers, two puppets, colourful costumes and a transformational set that packs into a van for school touring.

Rossini’s comic opera is still recognisable in this adaptation devised by director Elizabeth Hill and Christopher van Tuinen. Sue Goessling accompanies on piano and the capable, young cast sing excerpts from Rossini’s score while portraying the story in a more child-friendly form.

Cinderella is sung by pretty and vivacious soprano, Alexandra Hutton, who also deals exceptionally well with children’s incisive post-show questions. Emily Uhlrich not only sings with warmth and energy but she is hilarious playing both Ugly Stepsisters: the shrill, temperamental Clorinda and her gruff, puppet-sized sister Tisbe.

Some of the edited story is included in narration by Rupert the Mouse, a tubby puppet manipulated and voiced by Jon Bode. He also portrays Cinders’ Fairy Godfather (Yes, it was a Godfather in Rossini) and he incorporates some basic magic to demonstrate the Godfather’s conjuring skills. Chris Busietta steps into drag as the Wicked Stepmother then, more glamorously, returns to sing the role of the Prince with his bright tenor.

Although the show looks traditional, the dialogue incorporates modern references and dance moves that have the children giggling. The production has some bumpy timing and awkward set changes but the children forgive it all for a good story.

By Kate Herbert

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