CINDERELLA, the classic quintessential story of love and magic leading from rags to riches has been staged by the Kampala Amateur Dramatics Society (KADS) capturing the virtues of hard work, love, friendship, kindness and forgiveness as compared to social ills like corruption, betrayal, hatred and jealousy.
Written by Alastair Taylor and directed by Arfaan Bholim, Cinderella – If the Shoe Fits, was KAD’s 2017 annual pantomime extravaganza held from November 30 – December 3, 2017, at the National Theatre in Kampala.
The fairy tale is about a widower, who remarries a proud woman. The new wife comes with her two daughters; Petunia (Ben Kramer) and Gladiola (Vinnie Payne).
Petunia and Gladiola ill-treat and despise the man’s daughter from his previous marriage called Cinderella (Rebecca Richards), who she is gentle and beautiful. Cinderella is enslaved and kept in rags, does all the house chores and sleeps in the attic.
The King (Rahul Varun) and Queen (Angela Godshall) of the fictitious Kampala Kingdom where Cinderella lives encourage their son, Prince Charming (Lorraine Anderson), to search for a bride by hosting a royal ball for all the single quality ladies of Kampala. Of course, Petunia and Gladiola are excited about attending, which Cinderella will not be allowed to do.
With the help of the Fairy Godmother’s magic, Cinderella disguised as the countess of Muyenga travels to the royal ball in a princely pumpkin coach. The Fairy Godmother (Taylor Hughey) also changes the poor girl’s rags into a glittering ball gown and delicate glass slippers.
The Fairy Godmother orders Cinderella to return home by midnight for the charm ends at that time. As Cinderella runs out of the ballroom and in her haste loses one of the glass slippers but keeps the other.
The handsome prince, who has fallen in love with Cinderella, finds her lost slipper. He vows to search until he finds the girl who lost the glass slipper and marry her. The prince scans through the national identify card and mobile phone registers to no avail.
Prince Charming then tries the slipper on every girl in the kingdom, and it doesn't fit any of them. Finally, Cinderella tries it on and it fits, and she produces the mate to the magical shoe just to make sure.
The fairy tale has a happy ending. Cinderella marries Prince Charming. She finds true love and happiness with the prince. She forgives her stepsisters for their past meanness and finds suitable husbands for them at the court.
In the pantomime the notorious and corrupt Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) Chief Inspector (Keith Kisembo Kaira II) keeps demanding for all manner of licenses from the public for all types of activities they participate in.
Ironically, the inspector, who requires his juniors to maintain their integrity, accepts bribes in his office in order to waive license requirements. The inspector, who was booed throughout the play, turns out as a reformed man at the end.
The audience had a good dose of laughter as they experienced sword fights, comedic scenes, singing, dancing, magic, and plot twists, interspersed with all the traditional pantomime antics and characters. The costumes, sound and lighting were well executed.
The cast sang and danced to a number of modern hit songs such as: Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb and Robin Gibb’s song ‘Islands in the Stream’ first released by Kenny Rogers with Dolly Parton in 1983; Alan Menken’s composition ‘A Whole New World’ released by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle in 1992; the official 2010 FIFA World Cup anthem ‘Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)’ by Shakira - a copy of the original hit song ‘Zamina mina’ released by the Cameroonian makossa group called Zangalewa.
As to why he wrote this production, Taylor told me: “I just liked the story of Cinderella. The two ugly sisters are very dominating and cruel to Cinderella. And yet Cinderella is kind, hardworking and she is trying to do her best.”
“I believe there are many people in Uganda doing their best in their simple essential tasks and aren’t recognised for their hard work. So, Cinderella ends up a happy woman after marrying the prince thus jumping out of misery,” Taylor added.
“I have been in Uganda for a long time so I know the local humour, mentality and what Ugandans are drawn to - or what makes Ugandans laugh,” Bholim told me.
“Ugandans are very simple people and they like humour. So when we were putting this production together we took into consideration the types of humour for both Ugandans and expatriates,” Bholim added.
According to Bholim, “There were no lessons or morals to learn from this pantomime. It was pure fun and entertainment for the people to go back home with smiles on their faces.”
Cinderella, or The Little Glass Slipper was written by the French author Charles Perrault and published in Paris in 1697. Perrault, who was born in Paris in 1628 and died in 1703, also authored Little Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty.
Ralph (Connor Kirwan) and Prince Charming (Lorraine Anderson) in one of scenes in Cinderella staged in Kampala. Photo by Stuart Tibaweswa.
(L-R) Vinnie Payne as Gladiola and Ben Kramer as Petunia in one of the scenes in Cinderella. Photo by Stuart Tibaweswa.
Rebecca Richards as Cinderella in one of the scenes. Photo by Stuart Tibaweswa.