"Beyong Cinderella and The Brady Bunch" is the Manitoba Opera's attempt to strengthen community engagement in upcoming performances with a discussion panel about the experiences and stigma of stepfamilies.

The Manitoba Opera's performance, La Cenerentola, is a variation of the classic story of Cinderella and experiencing love at first sight. It keeps the theme of a step-family who forces a young woman to act as a servant.

The Manitoba Opera has been hosting community engagement events for the past few seasons. To promote the engagement of La Cenerentola, there will be a discussion panel available to guests to talk about the reality of stepfamilies.

Two therapists from Conexus Counselling, Carolyn Klassen and Ellie Jack, have been tasked with leading the panel discussion called, "Beyond Cinderella and The Brady Bunch," on the subject matter of stepfamilies, blending families and what lessons they have learned with their experience. The purpose of this free event is to inform the community that blending families is, in fact, not as horrible as the story makes it seem.

"Stepfamilies, a lot of times and in media, can be portrayed as quite challenging and sometimes even toxic," says Jack. "I'm even thinking of the story of Cinderella and how there are the evil stepsisters and the stepmother, and while stepfamilies can be challenging, it is not necessarily uncommon for families to go through these challenges. When you speak about stigma, I think the more we talk about it and the more we acknowledge that these are not always easy scenarios, hopefully, the more people will be willing to learn about how they can make them go a little bit smoother." 

A key point that Klassen and Jack are going to discuss is that blending families takes time, not rushing things and allowing children the time that they need to adjust to the change. Jack says that children need more time to process and settle into large life changes, so new adults should not take it personally and know that it is only part of the process.

All families experience their own struggles, Jack says that there are some unique challenges that blended families face that typical families do not face. However, every family experiences hardships and that is the normalizing part, it is just one part of family life.

For anyone wishing to participate in this free panel discussion event, it will be hosted at the Centennial Concert Hall at the Sound Bites Corner on Sunday, October, 23 at noon. It is also available online on the Manitoba Opera's YouTube channel. It is also recommended to book online, so the staff can prepare for how many people will be in attendance.

For details on La Cenerentola, visit the Manitoba Opera's website.