“It brought out the magic”
Local families take on Broadway
Story and photos by Robin Elisabeth Kilmer
Steven Gil had one word to describe Cinderella: “Awesome.”
His mother, Sonia Gil, was surprised that her teenage son would ascribe such a word to the aspirational tale of a young woman seeking her Prince Charming.
Though, to be fair, she did not know what to expect when she came to see the Broadway musical.
The only version she was familiar with was the 1950 Disney movie.
The Broadway rendition, with musical scores by Rogers and Hammerstein, offered the same plotline, but the musical is layered with witty one-liners, references to democracy in France, acrobatic dancing, and special effects.
“I didn’t expect it to be so good,” said Sonia.
Sonia saw the show with her sons, Steven and Ethan, age 7, and husband, Roy Ramotar.
“It really was fun for the whole family,” said Ramotar.
The family was one of many special guests at the Broadway Theatre on 53rd Street as part of The Broadway League’s Viva Broadway initiative, which seeks to connect Latino audiences with the Great White Way.
To this end, The Broadway League donated 360 free tickets to 120 families to attend three separate shows. Funding was secured when Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda and the original cast and crew of the hit show In the Heights returned uptown in February to mark the five-year anniversary of the show with a sold-out concert at the United Palace.
“Growing up, attending a Broadway show was an annual tradition that my family and I truly enjoyed,” explained Lin-Manuel Miranda. “Being able to use the concert’s proceeds for other families to enjoy the same experience was a unique opportunity.”
As Luis Miranda, co-publisher of The Manhattan Times and board member of Viva Broadway indicated, “Once families have had the opportunity to experience first-hand the magic of Broadway, they develop an affinity for live theater, very much in the same way the family enjoys going to the movies.”
Families of both the Community Association of Progressive Dominicans (ACDP), now part of The Acacia Network, and the Amber Charter School gathered this past Tues., Oct. 22nd to attend Cinderella. Together, the families will see two more shows, Annie and Newsies, and they will also participate in “talkback” sessions with those involved in the productions.
After having been rapt in his seat throughout the show, afterwards, Ethan Gil danced in the aisle.
“He had so much fun,” observed his mother. “Before we came, I was like ‘Oh my God, is he going to be bored?’”
“I really liked it!” he exclaimed. “My favorite part was when the raccoon and the fox turned into people,” he said, referring to the two woodland creatures who are enlisted to be Cinderella’s coachmen.
“I can’t wait for Annie,” said Sonia.
While she has seen the Rockettes before, Cinderella was her first Broadway production.
Logan and Jayden attend Amber Charter School, and were equally impressed.
While their mother, Josie Taub, has been to several Broadway productions, including Cats; Sunset Boulevard; Beauty and the Beast; and Jekyll and Hyde, this was their first time out to Broadway as a family.
“It was exciting,” said Jayden, 11.
But Logan couldn’t work his mind around one thing.
“I didn’t know they were going to kiss,” he said, as if he was still conflicted by Cinderella and the Prince having a public display of affection.
Jayden marveled at how quickly the actors changed costumes; sometimes, costumes were changed right in front of the audience’s very eyes, leaving the children curious and wondering.
“I can’t figure out how many dresses they had on underneath,” said Jayden. “Maybe they were reversible.”
“It brought out the magic,” said Taub.
While such on-stage secrets were not revealed, there was much to be learned during the talkback, which was moderated by stage manager Ira Mont.
Ethan chose a hard-hitting question.
“How much money did it take to make the play?”
Over $15 million.
Just enough to build a dream or two.
For more information on the Viva Broadway initiative, please visit www.broadwayleague.com/viva-broadway.