Rhina Echivarre is on course as she pursues her stage dreams
By Deneb Batucan
WHILE some girls waited for their true love, Rhina Echivarre found hers — at the center stage under a full-on spotlight. True love manifests in each graceful step when she dances, each note she hits when she sings, and in every character she portrays. Magic comes to life as she performs on stage. It is where Rhina sheds her soul and truly lives.
Growing up in a family of singers and dancers, Rhina has been exposed to the performing arts since she was little. She remembers how her grandfather used to play a lot of classical and Broadway music and would show here ballet concerts and ballroom dances.
At 11, Rhina trained at the Ballet Center and has toured the Visayas to perform in many ballet shows with the Queen City Chamber of Ballet, led by Fe Sala-Villarica. She was part of many local play productions from Ateneo de Cebu’s staging of Oliver and King and I to playing Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar to being Christine in an excerpt performance of The Phantom of the Opera. Her most notable works would be Adarna’s Song, which she did when she was 10 years old, and The Clockwork Princess, where she played the lead character.
There was already so much on Rhina’s repertoire. But little did she know that that was only a taste of where her life’s path was leading her.
Life in dreamland
Rhina now works as a performer at the Disney Cruise Line. Yes, you read that right. Disney.
While most little girls dreamed of becoming a Disney princess, Rhina gets to be up close and personal with them, sharing the stage with Mulan, Pocahontas, Jasmine, and all the other princesses and other Disney characters. It is a dream come true for her.
Being a performer at the Disney Cruise Line has changed Rhina’s life. Being with people who actually perform for a living was one of the best things that happened to her.
Rhina says that every time she’s on stage, it feels so magical. She says it’s so much fun to play different roles, whether as a little girl, an old woman or a pirate, among many roles. She loves entertaining and interacting with the audience, loving how the children look up to her with wispy eyes as they see their dreams come to life.
“A lot of guests come back each year and their children want to be singers and dancers, too. And when they see me on stage, it’s like their dreams are solidified because they see me doing it and they see how happy I am. I think that’s one of the most rewarding things, when you see someone with the same dream and you become an inspiration to them,” she mused.
But ship life is not for everyone. Being on board for months can take its toll. “That’s just one of the challenges with this job. Here on land, you get to cook your own food, you can just go to the mall to get what you want. On the ship, you either have a small room or you share with someone. The food is given to you so you don’t get to eat whatever you want. It’s one of the things that testsyour patience and help you grow,” she said.
To some, Rhina has made many a child’s dream into reality. But for her, she feels that there is still more to discover in her life. “I’ve always wanted to be a Disney Princess, and now I get to hang out with them. I get to be so close to them. But also, now that I’m actually doing this, I see how much more I can do. I could still say that I could fulfill my dream by being in another stage and singing another kind of song. I have actually reached what I have been dreaming of as a child, but as an adult, I think there’s more that I could find,” she said.
But for now, Rhina still wants to perform on the Disney stage. But she’s also considering moving to America and try her luck on Broadway. But as for her, it’s all about being at the right place and the right time.
That was what happened to her when she auditioned to be a performer for the Disney Cruise Line. She was at the right place and time and she went and grabbed the opportunity presented to her. She says getting out of her comfort zone made miracles happen in her life.
“Fear is the only thing that will stop you. Never be afraid to put yourself out there, that’s the only way you’ll be seen and get exposure. If I didn’t fly to Manila the night before that audition, then I wouldn’t get to experience this journey that changed my life. So never be afraid to put yourself out there because you don’t know what you’re really capable of until you’re out of your comfort zone,” she said.
And no truer words could have been spoken, in life or in dreams.
Photos: Alfred Gregory E. Bartolome
Make-up Artist: Carlo Damolo
Hair Stylist: Jerwin Bastatas
Locale: Tomo Cafe