Cinderella; Gillian Lynne Theatre, London
11th December 2021
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s long anticipated new musical, Cinderella, is a new take on the iconic rags to riches tale. With stunning costumes, clever scenery and a brand new musical score, Cinderella is a welcome original new musical for families. Cinderella, who in Belleville is the outcast or ‘bad’ as she is referred to embodies a much more modern character for which more young girls will recognise. She does not follow the rules but questions them, she is not afraid to stand out and to be individual. Whilst this is a family show, parents with young children may want to note that there is swearing and some inappropriate content so an age of 10+ may be recommended. This is certainly not your Disney Cinderella with magic pumpkin and fairy Godmother.
Whilst the production does feel slightly long in parts, overall the plot moves along nicely and is easily accessible. The costumes, by Gabriela Tylesova, are a real highlight of this show. Stunningly constructed and individual to each character, they are full of detail and gorgeous to look at. The bring the action to life the use of the revolve is clever, if a tad over used. The scenery is very detailed, almost like cardboard silhouette cut outs which with the effective lighting by Bruno Poet, are transformed into the town of Belleville. The lighting is stand out for this production and really makes the stage feel magical. The added lights around the auditorium transforms the theatre into the grand ball and enables the audience to feel part of the show itself. Without too many spoilers there is a big twist at the start of Act 2 which is a lovely addition, but it does feel slightly gimmicky and doesn’t actually add to the show. In fact, for those sitting in the circle it actually limits the sight lines and view of the opening scenes.
The cast are all excellent. Georgina Onuorah, who only graduated last year, captures all of the audiences attention and is a huge presence on the stage. Her vocals are brilliant and she certainly puts a lot of attitude and sass into this new ‘bad‘ Cinderella character. Prince Sebastian, played by recent graduate Ivano Turco, is a much more laid back and ‘normal’ Prince than in the usual fairy stories and Turco plays his vulnerability excellently. Rebecca Trehearn and Victoria Hamilton-Barritt are both excellent in the roles of the Queen and Stepmother respectively. Hamilton-Barritt is a natural villain and has often said herself that she likes to take on larger than life characters. The stepmother is certainly that! For the most part her characterisation is superb and has the audience in stitches, but at times her chosen accent makes the lyrics hard to understand. The ensemble cast members work extremely hard across multiple roles throughout the show with the choreography by JoAnn M. Hunter, being executed terrifically.
The musical score, as you’d expect with a musical written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, contains a lot of reprisals and catchy tunes. The lyrics by David Zippel are fun, witty and clever. Most of the songs have a modern feel to them but there are a few songs which do not quite fit into the show as they have a classic, traditional musical theatre feel which jars slightly against the more upbeat modern songs such title song as ‘Bad Cinderella’. The musical does drag slightly in the second act, with some songs such as ‘Far Too Late‘ possibly needing to be slightly shorter to maintain the younger members of the audience’s attention.
Overall, Cinderella is a welcome addition to the West End. Well constructed with some ear-worm songs, audiences are sure to leave the theatre smiling and humming along. Fun for all the family, this certainly isn’t a young child’s show or a pantomime but a modern retelling of a classic tale. So make a trip to Belleville, you won’t be disappointed.
For more information and tickets for Cinderella, click here.
Photo Credit: Tristram Kenton