FOR ITS 20th performance season, Ballet Manila (BM) extends Christmas cheer with an updated, full-length staging of the timeless children’s tale “Pinocchio.”
The dance company has featured “Pinocchio” in previous holiday offerings but in truncated form. This year, the feature-length ballet will be presented. The Pink Fairy will be brought to life for the first time by actress and singer Tippy dos Santos.
“My favorite part in the show would have to be when I sing ‘When You Wish upon a Star’ because it’s a song that’s close to my heart. My mom used to sing that to me,” Dos Santos says.
While audiences won’t be seeing any ballet moves from the Filipino-American performer (as she is, primarily, the show’s singing storyteller), Dos Santos admits that it is through this staging of “Pinocchio” that she was, much to her delight, able to participate in her first ballet class—with no less than BM artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde as instructor.
“I was pleasantly surprised when Tippy attended one of the classes because it really was optional,” says Macuja-Elizalde.
She adds that even if Dos Santos’ role would not require any dancing, the Pink Fairy role would require her to move around the stage with the same ease, grace and stance as any trained ballerina.
Another highlight of BM’s “Pinocchio” is Pleasure Island, where the main character unexpectedly undergoes an unwelcome transformation after getting mixed up with a bunch of scalawags.
Complementing BM’s package, where one enjoys unlimited rides at neighboring amusement park Star City after watching the ballet, the Pleasure Island portion boasts of circus acts and acrobatics performed by professional gymnasts and circus actors.
The dynamic carnival skit is what’s pushing danseur Alvin Santos—who plays the lead role—to try to outdo his past performances as Pinocchio.
“I feel that I have to keep up with the circus performances featured on the Pleasure Island scene. It’s a welcome challenge,” says Santos, who has taken up the lead role since BM’s first run of “Pinocchio” in 2002. Santos joined BM in 1998 and has since been trained by Osias Barroso.
When asked about other challenges he faces in this staging, Santos reveals that, for the entire duration of the two-act production (which used to be a one-act dance showcase before this year’s upgrade), his character never leaves the stage.
When he coyly admits the role demands so much in terms of stamina and stage presence, Barroso, who choreographed the show and is BM’s co-artistic director, jokingly warns: “Don’t let me hear your complaints.”
Osias and Macuja-Elizalde praise Santos.
“Aside from being an award-winning danseur, Alvin is also a very good actor, and this shows onstage,” Barroso says.
Barroso promises a “multisensory” production.
“Our staging of ‘Pinocchio’ has always enjoyed a good reputation. It appeals to both the young and old, and most importantly during this [Christmas] season, it’s for families,” Macuja-Elizalde says.
Osias Barroso’s “Pinocchio” will be showing at Aliw Theater in Pasay City on Nov. 27, 28 and Dec. 5, 8 p.m.; and Nov. 29 and Dec. 6, 3 p.m. For tickets and inquiries, visit www.ticketworld.com.ph or call 8919999.