CHENNAI: Five minutes to 3 pm, and the entrance of the Egmore Museum Theatre chokes with traffic. With cars and two-wheelers getting stuck, mothers and their kids decide to get down from the vehicles, bang in the middle of the road, and walk their way to the hall. “Are we late?” asks a worried little one. The mother quickens her steps in reply. Spectator to all this hullabaloo is a life-size poster of Voila! Cinderella, the Little Theatre’s Christmas Pantomime.
Enter, and one can see a jampacked hall with kids, most of them accompanied by their parents, and a bunch brought in from school. Aysha Rau, founder of The Little Theatre and producer of the pantomime, says that the show has been running housefull, and tickets have already been booked for the six days the play is on — one show during weekdays and two during weekend. The Annual Gala event organised every year end to usher in the Christmas spirit, has hosted several fresh faces, both in the directorial and acting front, a few of whom have made it big in the field now, says Aysha.
The pantomime by The Little Theatre has previously borrowed fable-famed characters like The Little Mermaid, Snow White and Robin Hood among others. In its 20th year, the team, led by director Ashley Peter Shillong, gave the kids a peek into the life of Cindy and her evil stepsisters Stout and Doubt — Cinderella story tailor-made for the Chennai audience, with Doubt playing a maami and a full-blown action scene with Kaththi theme music in the background. Besides the loose Chennai connect, the actors brought in the magical numbers of the West — be it Cindy ‘Dirty dancing’ to Time of my Life with her prince, or a team of child actors grooving to Love Me Do by The Beatles and the more recent Let it Go from the animation movie Frozen.
The pantomime keeps to its original version in parts where Cindy, played by Anu Bhaskararaman, endures her mean sisters, goes to the king’s ball party in a dress given to her by a fairy, meets the prince and leaves her sandals back for the prince to come and find her. But towards the middle, the play steers away, with the introduction of a villainous monkey from The Power Puff Girls, Mojo Jo Jo and gaudily-dressed Dame Cherry, who is the mentor of the prince. The two characters bring out the best in the audience, with kids going ‘His Boo’ whenever Mojo Jo Jo comes on stage, and shouting ‘No, you are not beautiful’ whenever Dame Cherry flashes her seductive smile and asks them for approval of her looks.
The play had a fair share of young actors, with kids as young as five — all part of The Little Theatre’s workshop — enacting their part. Catch the rest of the shows at 6.30 pm on December 8,9 and 10 at the Museum Theatre.