Gillian Lynne Theatre – booking until May 2022
Reviewed by Claire Roderick
We can finally go to the ball, and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella was well worth the wait. Emerald Fennell’s treatment of the fairy tale frames Cinderella as a social outcast in a town obsessed with beauty. The citizens of Belleville rely on the town’s reputation for perfection for tourism, and our goth heroine refusing to conform is judged harshly. The laughs come thick and fast, with lots of sarcasm and panto physical humour.
It takes her stepmother and stepsister to eventually make Cinderella realise that she is just as judgemental and snobbish as the people she mocks and that she is her own worst enemy after her rebellious acts cause the desperate queen to try to fill her coffers after the disappearance of Prince Charming with a ball and a royal wedding.
The preening men and pouting women of Belleville are a joy to watch in Gabriela Tylesova’s sumptuous costumes, and Tylesova’s minimal but beautiful set is a triumph. The use of the revolve and the mobile buildings of Bellevue is used to stunning effect as the townsfolk hunt for Cinderella.
Lloyd Webber includes his usual soaring numbers but the ballads are pleasingly stripped back, allowing the actors’ voices to shine. David Zippel’s lyrics are light and fluffy and very funny. JoAnn M. Hunter’s choreography is wonderful, matching each musical style perfectly, and the opening of Act 2 is a bombastic but beautiful ballroom dance as some lucky audience members get transported to the ball.
Carrie Hope Fletcher is an incredible leading lady, captivating vocally and convincing as the conflicted Cinderella. Ivan Turco impresses on his debut as Prince Sebastian, bringing a sweet vulnerability to the character. Gloria Onitiri gives a barnstorming performance as the Godmother (a plastic surgeon – performing traditional but still nifty stage magic). Georgina Castle and Laura Baldwin are hilarious as the vacuous but beautiful stepsisters. But the show really comes to life when VictoriaHamilton-Barritt and Rebecca Trehearn take the stage as the Stepmother and the Queen. Trehearn’s image conscious queen gets to frolic with leather clad guards in a crowd pleasing number, and Hamilton-Barritt, channelling Cruella deVille, Norma Desmond and Patsy from Ab Fab just has to raise an eyebrow to raise a laugh. Their duelling duet is the highlight of the show.
This isn’t groundbreaking stuff, but Cinderella is a guaranteed crowd pleaser – a sumptuous visual and musical treat, full of fun and fabulous frocks.