Lea Salonga’s Backstory: Goodbye, glass slippers

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Cinderella takes a bow…..

Backstory
Goodbye, glass slippers
By Lea Salonga
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 17:52:00 01/21/2009

SINGAPORE—Thursday night is our final, 115th performance of “Cinderella.” For sure it’ll be one lovely night, not to mention quite emotional.

From our debut in Manila to our swan song here in Singapore, and all the other performances in between, it has been an interesting, enjoyable and challenging run. We’ve been introduced to and immersed in many cultures, types of cuisine and, oh yes, venues that have exercised our skills and adaptability as actors and as human beings. And we’ve had to be very adaptable, indeed, given the situations and circumstances we found ourselves in, in every city and theater.

Where is our garden terrace?

We had complete shows in only three venues—the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Hong Kong Cultural Centre and The Esplanade in Singapore. In all the other theaters, we found ourselves missing set pieces—the wedding hanger (the flower arch flown in only for the wedding scene at the finale), our pumpkin portal (the venue for much of the Fairy Godmother’s magic), the garden terrace (where Cinderella and the Prince fall in love), the kitchen railing (which fronts the upstairs bedroom doors), and/or the palace ballroom.

So, in each new city there would be a rehearsal the day before the show just to figure out exactly how to deal with whatever was there, and whatever was gone. Thankfully though, the floor was the same everywhere we went.

Those darned stairs

One set piece that never, ever was struck was the flight of white stairs in the second act at the ball and at the wedding. I have to descend this flight of white to attend the ball, and ascend it to marry the Prince.

This set piece has terrorized me on a daily basis.

Going down to the ball always strikes fear in my heart. I don’t have the strongest feet and ankles in the world, so I have to be careful with every step down… down… and down. The dancers who flank the staircase are always watchful, in case something goes wrong. I’ve wobbled once or twice but, thankfully, I’ve always arrived at the bottom in one piece. The waltz is then a huge relief.

Going up is another story. At this point I am dressed in a large white wedding gown, heavy with beading. Underneath is a skirt with layers of fabric that habitually stick to my legs.

As I approach the stairs, I gather up my gown to free my feet of fabric. Step by step, I kick whatever remains of my costume that may be in the way, just to make things easier. However, and this happened quite regularly, I would end up stepping on my skirt, which would then pull my weight forward, and hamper the climb. My veil has also fallen off my head, my necklace has fallen into my dress, and my wedding bouquet has lost a few little flowers. Cursed stairs.

Replacement

We’ve had only one cast change: the role of Hark the Herald was first played by Aaron Galligan-Stierle. He was then replaced by Steven Strafford.

They are both exceptional in the role—fantastic singers and incredibly funny. Each one brought something unique to his portrayal, and it’s been a joy working with them both.

Parting words

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with “Cinderella,” despite the hurdles we have had to face. I’ve met some fantastic people, made great friends, visited interesting cities, ate delicious food, and sung a beautiful Rodgers and Hammerstein musical 115 times.

To everyone that has seen us, wherever we landed, thank you… to everyone that was a part of our tour, be it for a week, a month or the entire run, thank you… to Broadway Asia Entertainment, Bobby Garcia, Vince Pesce, Paul Miller, David Gallo, Michael Duff, Mike Waters, Robert-Charles Vallance, Renato Balestra, Chari Arespacochaga, Cecile Martinez, Tim Panitz, Virginia Chu, Lakeshore Records, FILharmoniKa, all department heads and associates, musicians, dressers, and crew, Maraming, maraming salamat po!

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