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Baggasse returns with T&T Cinderella story

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Everybody loves a Cinderella story. And after seven long years, Baggasse Company is returning to the theatre stage with just that—a brand new local adaptation of the classic fairy-tale. 

Cinderella, the T&T Musical is a whole new take on the beloved story, told in a local voice and through various local art forms, in a spectacular show that audiences young and old are sure to love. 

The musical has a fully original script, incorporating local patois, our folklore and Carnival traditions, set within a framework of original music including elements of soca, chutney, pan and sitar.

Baggasse Company was founded in 1986 and made a name for itself as one of the leading theatrical groups in the country. 

But founder, executive producer and artistic director Christine Johnston wanted to do productions that were about more than just financial survival. 

With Cinderella, she feels they’ve found the perfect vehicle to please audiences as well as fulfill their “desire to create magical productions.”

“I wanted to reintroduce Baggasse to the scene, to make a statement,” she says.

Initially, the company wanted to produce the Rodgers and Hammerstein version of the play. However, they were unable to secure the rights because it is currently running on Broadway. 

Johnston then thought, why not do a local interpretation? She “decided to give it a shot.”

She wrote the script, drawing inspiration from T&T culture and folklore. “We wanted to make it our own, to do our own telling of the story.”

For the music, Johnston went to her sister Judy Agard, who previously wrote music for a production called A Brighter Day. “She has a real flair for composition,” Johnston says.

Agard teamed up with music producer Jason Dasent to create original songs that bring the new Cinderella to life.

Johnston says: the musical “captures our essence, our values, our culture, our music.” The script is peppered with local expressions, with the narration is sung in the form of Extempo. Even Cinderella’s enchanted carriage will be worn, like a grand Carnival queen costume. Co-director Aaron Schneider also did the costume design.

Johnston says she decided to “take a step back” from directing and let Schneider handle most of it. 

“I think sometimes a writer needs to take some distance from the work,” she says. “And Aaron is doing a fantastic job.”

Johnston revealed that two actresses will take on the role of Cinderella: Aurora Tardieu, “a very accomplished singer” with Marionettes Chorale, and newcomer Arielle Cowie, who “has a gorgeous voice and is an instinctively good actress.”

Their handsome prince will be played by Stephen Hadeed Jr, understudied by Renaldo Frederick.

Written originally in 1697, Cinderella tells a classic tale of the triumph of good over evil.

The play opens with the marriage of Cinderella’s father to her stepmother.  

The stepmother turns out to be wicked indeed, gradually stripping sweet-natured Cinderella of her belongings, her status and her self-esteem. 

When the Prince of the land throws a ball, Cinderella is not allowed to attend but with the intervention of Papa Bois’ magic she is transformed and goes to the ball.  

She finds her prince but must leave at midnight. He decides he must try to find her, and true love triumphs in the end.

Papa Bois, Mama Glo, La Diablesse, and Carnival characters like Moko Jumbies, Devils and Minstrels all add magic and flair to the production.

On the eve of opening, Johnston says, “I’m feeling great! The show is running beautifully, and it feels very entertaining.”

The new musical will run at SAPA in San Fernando today and tomorrow (September 16 and 17), and from September 24 to 29 at Queen’s Hall, with several school shows and matinees.


SAPA DATES: September 16 —17 

QUEEN’S HALL DATES: September 24—29 (School Shows 10 am Sept 25, 28 & 29) 


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