By Jasmine Agnes T. Cruz
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Presented by Repertory Philippines’
Theater for Young Audiences
Ongoing until Dec. 10
Onstage Theater in Greenbelt 1, Makati City
BITUIN ESCALANTE has perfected her evil laugh, and uses it to full effect as the evil Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the latest musical production of Repertory Philippines’ children’s arm.
Bituin Escalante (the Queen) with Christine Flores (Snow White)
Unlike the Disney animated movie, the Queen in this version — directed by Joy Virata, with book and lyrics by Elsa Rael and music by Michael Valenti — appears more frequently as she makes several attempts to get rid of Snow White in her attempt to again become the “fairest of them all.”
The poisoned apple is not the only evil scheme that the Queen cooks up. There is a poisoned comb she gives to the Woodsman — who chickens out. Then, she produces a sash that tries to suffocate Snow White, but that doesn’t work either.
Finally, we get to the apple. Disguised as an old woman, Ms. Escalante’s voice suddenly becomes high pitched and small, kindly imploring Snow White to share her meal. When the ever demure Snow White is too slow to take the fatal bite, Ms. Escalante lets out an impatient, deep-voiced “Take it!” The shift in tone is spectacularly hilarious.
Watching Ms. Escalante brew her wicked potions is a treat, with the magic mirror reciting the ingredients in comical rhyming verses. As each ingredient is dropped into the cauldron, bubbles come out to the delight of the kids in the audience. Then there is Ms. Escalante’s voice, her strong vocals complementing her grand and imposing presence on stage. (Ring Antonio and Christine Flores alternate with Ms. Escalante as the Queen, while Hans Eckstein, Jos Jalbuena, and Jef Flores take turns playing the Prince/Woodsman).
Alana Vicente makes her stage debut in a musical as Snow White (she alternates with Christine Flores, Becca Coates, and Dani Prieto in the role). She has a Disney-like voice, and she looks the part — all pretty and perfect. Maybe it’s just a function of her character, but throughout the play Snow White only had one emotion: happy. Even when talking about how the queen drove her out of the palace, she still sounds chipper. Couldn’t she have been a little sad? Overall, her performance was pleasant, but the queen is more mesmerizing. Then again, Ms. Escalante is a seasoned performer. Their intertwined roles though inevitably leads the audience to make such a comparison.
The dwarfs make a cheery entrance from the back of the audience. They make a friendly ruckus as they go through the crowd and the kids start pointing and waving at them. Wearing colorful outfits, funny hats, and long beards, the dwarfs have cute chipmunk-like voices and they truly entertain the audience throughout the show.
At the end of the show, we heard a mother ask her son, “Do you want to have a photo with the queen?” The boy said, “No way. I want Snow White.” Adults might love Ms. Escalante, but the kids will still fall for the fairy tale princess.
Tickets to the show are P400 to P600. For details, call 843-3570. Book tickets through TicketWorld at 891-9999 or www.ticketworld.com.ph.