BY SARA MILLER
A new twist on a beloved childhood story, Vanessa Jev Production introduces CIND-AH-RELLA!, a retelling of the classic fairytale Cinderella, with a African twist. In this adaptation, the story of CIND-AH-RELLA! takes place in a modern, African city. But unlike the original, this version of Cinderella strays far from the damsel-in-distress trope. Instead, the story will focus on self-empowerment, building long lasting friendships and shaping your own destiny in the face of adversity. CIND-AH-RELLA! first premiered at the University of Toronto St. George campus under the African Studies Course Union with the title of “Cinderella”. After opening the show to much success, with all three nights completely selling out, CIND-AH-RELLA! is back in Toronto.
The story of CIND-AH-RELLA! is written and directed by Vanessa Jev, who has been writing and directing shows for four years. Her previous work includes The Lost King (2013), Romeo and Juliet (2014), and Cinderella (March 2016). Seeing a lack of people of color in lead roles, Jev decided to not only create productions that feature men and women of color, she also wanted to use her shows as a platform to showcase African and Caribbean culture to a broader audience. The cast of CIND-AH-RELLA! is made up of a 98 percent black cast with backgrounds in the African and Caribbean communities. The show also features beautiful designs from four Toronto designers.
This year, the topic of diversity or the lack of, has been a hot button subject on social media and in news headlines. When this year’s Academy Award nominees were announced, it was hard not to notice the lack of racial representation that graced the list, with all actors nominated in the acting categories being Caucasian. It was from this, the twitter hash-tag #OscarsSoWhite was created and started a nationwide discussion on the importance of representation of people of color in films and the performing arts. However when given the chance, people of color in leading roles can prove to be very successful as was the case for the Broadway production Hamilton, which not only has broken records for nominated Tony Awards, advance box-office sales and sold out tickets, but also features a cast made up entirely of people of color. Her production company, Vanessa Jev Productions, is dedicated to giving people of color not only working opportunities in the performing arts outside of stereotypical roles but also a new form of entertainment for people of color to enjoy in their communities.
Tickets to the production of CIND-AH-RELLA! can be purchased online on the Brown Paper Tickets website at http://cindahrella.brownpapertickets.com and are $10* (for children under 12) $15* (students with valid ID) and $20* (Adults)
*Price does not include service fee. The show will take place at the Robert Gill Theatre located at 214 College Street, Toronto, ON M5T 2Z9. The production will only show from Wednesday June 15th to Saturday June 18th, so get your tickets soon! You won’t want to miss the talents of this amazing cast.