By Margaretta wa Gacheru (posted 18 October 2018)
If there is one Western fairy tale that’s better known than all the rest it’s probably the one about the little orphan girl who’s mistreated by her stepmother, but dreams of magically finding her Prince Charming, escaping her misery and finally living happily ever after with her PC.
‘Cinderella’ is the name of that fantasy. It’s also the name of the musical production being staged next weekend, from 26th-28th October by Aperture Africa at the Oshwal Centre Auditorium.
Amar and Jinita Desai created Aperture Africa Productions ten years ago, but they only started producing spectacular musicals like The Jungle Book and Robin Hood a couple of years back. But as soon as they opened with Jungle Book, we could see Aperture was something special and something unique on the Nairobi theatre scene.
For not only are Aperture shows mixed up with Kenyans and Asians in both the cast and the crew, reflecting a true picture of the local multi-cultural scene. Amar Desai, who’s got professional training and experience in theatre, also takes care with everything from costuming and make-up to the choreography and special effects.
This is what we expect to see next Friday night when Cinderella opens on the Manu Chandaria stage. Starring Stephaniah Lago as Cinderella and Tirath Padam as the Prince, Cinderella’s saving grace is actually her fairy god mother played by Libby Ndambo.
But who usually adds heightened interest to any fairy tale is the villain. In Cinderella’s case, there are actually three baddies, including her stepmother played by Elsie Oluoch and her nasty stepsisters, played by Tuja May and Maya Spybey.
Having started rehearsals for the productions several months back, one’s assured it’s unlikely to be any slip-ups on opening night. But as fine as the acting is likely to be, what will also be essential to the show’s success is the music itself.
Here again, we can be assured the 13-piece live orchestra, assembled by Amar together with the group’s conductor Caleb Wachira, are bound to be very good. What’s more, the music is not from the 1950 Disney animation when less known composers produced the music for that version of the fantasy.
Aperture’s music is from the original Broadway production by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein which they wrote in 1957 originally for television. Only after the show’s TV success did it go to New York City where it was a smash hit.
The combination of fantasy, magic, music, romance and a touch of comedy makes Cinderella a production that should entertain both adults and children alike. What’s more, Aperture Africa has managed to get support from a number of local companies including Diamond Trust Bank. This is also a good sign indicating the health of Kenyan Theatre, and we hope to see many more local firms follow in the footsteps of DTB and the others endorsing Aperture.
In the meantime, one of the highpoints of the show is bound to be the beautifully choreographed scene at the Ball. That is where choreographers Karan Dedhia, Vruti Gosrani and Amar have their moments of glory as the ball is a climactic moment when the crux of the Cinderella story unfolds. It’s a moment one won’t want to miss.