WORTH A LOOK?: *****
WHEN?: Matinee Sunday 22 August 2021, opening Wednesday 25 August, booking to 29 May 2022 UPDATE: We had the pleasure of catching understudy Georgina Onuorah’s Cinderella at the matinee on Sunday 29 August. Her Cinderella may not have Hope Fletcher’s star power yet but it was an individual, thrilling performance very much in keeping with the part. A 5* debut in a 5* show.
The absolute triumph of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella is allowing Oscar winner Emerald Fennell to run riot with the story and the casting of Carrie Hope Fletcher in the titular role.
- * Read on for reasons including how to see Cinderella now the show has extended its run to May 2022
Hope Fletcher’s Cinderella is described by her longtime friend Prince Sebastian in the show with a flourish: ‘messy hair, ghastly clothes and quite scary’ and it’s a character quite different from the more traditional versions of this show that you might be more familiar with.
Cinders is a scullery maid and lives with her stepmother and 2 stepsisters in the French town of Belleville. It has won a prize for the most perfect destination 49 years in a row and is seemingly peopled by beautifully chiselled inhabitants although it is about to lose its reputation thanks to the handiwork of Cinderella who defaces the memorial to Prince Charming who is missing, presumed dead.
Cinderella’s Doctor Martens and black lace goth outfits are out of keeping with the townsfolk’s ‘hot buns’ and it’s the men who spend much of the action topless with Rebecca Trehearn’s (City Of Angels, Garrick Theatre) Queen finding much to be in thrall to by the testosterone on display.
For us it’s the sparring between the Queen (Trehearn riffing on Miranda Richardson’s Blackadder Queen) and Victoria Hamilton Barritt’s (The View UpStairs, Soho Theatre) scheming and snobbish stepmother with an affected voice that reminded these ears of Margaret Thatcher that thrills. Their duet I Know You is a masterclass in passive aggression as the 2 cougars stalk their prey.
We 1st saw Hope Fletcher as the lead in Heathers at the Other Palace when she played an outsider who toyed with embracing popularity before striking out on her own and those traits have many echoes here.
Ivan Turco is making his West End debut and is well cast as the reluctant prince in the shadow of a more charismatic rival but stick with him because his dancing at the show’s end is fantastic especially an ovation-inducing somersault.
The revolving stage at the Gillian Lynne Theatre achieves something quite beautiful in the 2nd act which we’ve never seen from a venue before and the show’s climax had us punching the air with delight for its originality and topicality – and may well surprise.
What’s clever about the show is that it could quite easily double as a pantomime across the festive season.
We’re conscious we’ve not yet mentioned the songs but we have already reviewed the album and there’s lots of highlights here particularly David Zippel’s inventive lyrics. Prince Charming’s backstory however is one of the album’s standout tracks but doesn’t make the cut.
We would have loved to have seen more of Gloria Onitiri as the Stepmother and her duet with Cinderella, Beauty Has A Price, is probably our pick of the numbers here. We also thought Laura Baldwin (Eugenius, Other Palace) might have a bigger part to play but, quite frankly, it’s a joy that so many women feature so predominantly to drive the narrative.
Best new musical of 2021 so far? If the shoe fits.
- * Picture via Facebook by Tristram Kenton courtesy Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella Tickets
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