Choir works to defy stereotypes in ‘Cinderella’

Class discusses importance of racial equity

Seniors+Ndunzi+Kunsunga+and+Eva+Arago+rehearse+their+roles+as+Prince+Charming+and+Cinderella+for+the+upcoming+choir+musical+%22Cinderella%22+Feb.+11.+The+show+opens+March+1+and+will+run+through+March+3.
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Choir works to defy stereotypes in ‘Cinderella’

Seniors Ndunzi Kunsunga and Eva Arago rehearse their roles as Prince Charming and Cinderella for the upcoming choir musical

Seniors Ndunzi Kunsunga and Eva Arago rehearse their roles as Prince Charming and Cinderella for the upcoming choir musical "Cinderella" Feb. 11. The show opens March 1 and will run through March 3.

Grace Farley

Seniors Ndunzi Kunsunga and Eva Arago rehearse their roles as Prince Charming and Cinderella for the upcoming choir musical "Cinderella" Feb. 11. The show opens March 1 and will run through March 3.

Grace Farley

Grace Farley

Seniors Ndunzi Kunsunga and Eva Arago rehearse their roles as Prince Charming and Cinderella for the upcoming choir musical "Cinderella" Feb. 11. The show opens March 1 and will run through March 3.

Sofia Seewald

As choir prepares for its annual musical, “Cinderella,” choir teacher and musical director John Myszkowski said he hopes to challenge pre-set assumptions about the characters’ appearance.

“Our version is not the same as the Disney movie, and that was something that kids were really challenging, as far as they just assumed Cinderella should be white and blonde because that’s how the movies were made,” Myszkowski said.

According to Myszkowski, the choir wants to test society’s idealized standard based on Broadway productions in their “Cinderella” performances.

“(I enjoy) seeing students challenge themselves and also challenge norms that have been established with Broadway shows,” Myszkowski said. “We do talk about racial equity a lot and our cast is super diverse, which is great.”

According to senior choir member Eva Arago, who will play Cinderella, Myszkowski has empowered cast members to decide how to combat the perceptions that come along with the show.

“He is not afraid to stray from the norm which is good because we’re definitely a unique choir, so he really accommodates to the cast,” Arago said.

“It’s really diverse, and he’s not focused on keeping the musical like how it usually is. He wants us to make it our own,”  she said.

According to Myszkowski, one of the songs in “Cinderella” has brought up conversation about how society has enforced only one single meaning of beauty.

“We’ve had discussions about one song (where) the words are ‘do I love you because you’re beautiful, or are you beautiful because I love you,’” Myszkowski said. “We talked about how we, as a culture, normalize our definition of beauty.”

Arago said she believes the meaning of beauty is solely defined by one’s individuality. Arago said “Cinderella” incorporates themes of different beauty standards.

“Definitions of beauty are not based on race and not based on culture. It’s based on the person, who you are, and that’s how he wants my character to be played in the musical — based on who I am,” Arago said.

“Cinderella” will be performed at 7 p.m. March 1-3 and at 2 p.m. March 4 in the St. Louis Park High School Auditorium.

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