Author: Drew Lewis
Utter the phrase “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo” and many of us will instantly remember the Disney classic, Cinderella. A movie so timeless that we as an audience unquestioningly accept that this collection of nonsensical syllables are in an indication of singing, magic, and romance. Few of us however are aware of the Rodgers and Hammersmith TV musical that was later performed as a piece of musical theatre. This rendition differs slightly to the story made classic by Disney but nonetheless is full of charm, comedy and heart-warming scenes.
Made In China (M.I.C) Community Theatre decided it was their turn to bring this tale to the stage on Sunday December 8. Hoping not only to grip the hearts of the audience with scenes of true love and kindness but also to bring a much needed piece of thespian culture to Shenzhen. Performing on the stage at the International School of Nanshan Shenzhen (ISNS) this fledging theatrical troupe has firmly made their mark in this city’s am-dram scene.
Despite this being the troupe’s first ever show to perform the founders are more than ready to tackle the challenges that will inevitably come their way. The past experience each core member has, from the different parts of the industry, serves as a solid foundation from which to build upon. First we have Katie Fogarty who has experience performing on Broadway in New York which lends the whole process a professional feel. Next Rob Beck, being versed in the concept of immersive theatre, provides an intuitive insight into a much unknown style of performance. Last, but not least, Jen Smith brings an outside perspective using her background in psychology to understand the needs of the audience members.
Characters in musicals are often considered to be skin deep, and this comes as no surprise with obvious representations of good and bad or hero and villain. This lack of preordained character exposition did not stop each of the performers from performing their roles delightfully. From Prince Topher adding in some adult innuendos to keep the parents entertained, to Cinderella gracefully balancing wishful desires and filial piety and even the evil stepsisters adding comedic undertone with their portrayal of two bratty teens, each character was skilfully fleshed out.
Although being limited by physical space and the reality of live performance M.I.C were able to come up with wonderful workarounds. The use of two coconut halves to imitate the sound of a horses’ hooves, taking inspiration from the Monty Python and the Holy Grail, being one such example. There is a purity to this element of charm, reminding us that the human imagination is sometimes all we need to fill in the blanks. More often than not performances require inventive ways to solve other problems as well, one such problem being set design. M.I.C took the minimalist approach and opted to use nothing more than a few background screenshots, lighting changes and simple props to convey a change in location. Much of the music used in the performance was from an already existing script, created material often being the safer option for performances, but this by no means diminished the support that each musical number offered. Performed by pianist Marija Vasic, guitarist Jack Linthwaite and drummer Shane Halligan the music served as the perfect counterpart to the performance, lending levity where needed and acting in juxtaposition when required.
A brief talk with the founders of M.I.C gave some insight into their future projects, with a unanimous agreement of hoping to perform another musical within the early months of 2020. If you are interested in amateur dramatics, be that as a performer or helping out backstage, then seek out M.I.C by scanning the QR below for they are certainly a theatrical troupe to keep in mind.