Knowing where Lea Salong has been, seeing her do Cinderella is like watching Nadia Comaneci doing the jungle gym in a children's park. It's too easy for her.
Don't get me wrong. She sings her best and reins nothing in. But the songs of R and H in this musicale were not meant to bring out Ms. Saigon’s musical bravura. There is a lack of challenging solos, interesting duets or breath-defying choral arrangements in this light musicale. I could imagine this musicale being well done by advanced theatre students of the Philippine High School for the Arts, but not with Ms. Salonga. She could have best done this role during her Repertory days when she was as young as, say, Monique Villonco. With a few exceptions, women’s bodies change after childbirth. And in her case, no matter the draping, the widened hips showed. (Surprisingly, this was not the case, though, with the Rajo Laurel gowns she wore in her in her recent Manila concert. Maybe the production should hire him as a consultant.)
The cast played out their roles as best as they could, except for the Prince Charming who delivered his speaking lines with too much tremolo. My seatmate, grandmother of five, thought he sounded like Robert Goulet in some ancient production of Camelot. Nonetheless, the children in the audience seemed taken by the set and costumes which were colored like birthday cakes from Goldilocks Bakeshop, down to the last confectionery swirl. But when the audience was let out, after a long two hours with intermission, no one seemed interested to buy the stuffed rats being peddled at the lobby. Being sold for P600, who would?
Driving home, I realized that Cinderella is, actually, the Disney version of Insiang, the movie that catapulted Lino Brocka in Cannes. Funny, no?