BWW Review: CINDERELLA, Gillian Lynne Theater
The theater went through a truly scorching time during the pandemic, with Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s Cinderella delayed a year and last month’s opening night canceled at the last minute. However, the high-profile show is here now and this irreverent take on the traditional fairy tale is a joyous spectacle.
It takes place in Belleville, a seemingly perfect place where the genre is outlawed; openly male court knights look more like Chippendales, and women get their noses redone before going to the ball. Cinderella is the aberrant rebel, refusing to comply and preferring to remove the mickey from his friend Prince Sebastian.
But when Sebastian unexpectedly becomes heir to the throne and needs a wife, Cinderella to conform to stereotypes of beauty to make her “happy forever”?
Carrie Hope Fletcher has a captivating stage presence like Cinderella, singing songs such as the intensely catchy “Bad Cinderella“with her powerful voice, but also capturing the sardonic, sarcastic and rebellious side of the character. She has an intelligent response to everything, but also shows great nuance by revealing vulnerability and fear.
Ivano turco makes his West End debut as a low-key Prince Sebastian. His exceptional ballad of “Only You, Lonely You” is full of emotion. There is a calm, sweet chemistry with Hope Fletcher, reflecting the deep friendship between the characters, rather than great passion.
Victoria Hamilton-Barritt is the comedic cornerstone of the show as a stepmom. His ridiculously hilarious vocal intonations are reminiscent of a husky Joanna lumley, combined with a strangled Margaret Thatcher. There are beautiful scenes with Rebecca TrehearnThe Queen looks like Marie-Antoinette, one of which features the strongly satirical duo “I Know You”, a masterclass in passive aggression.
Gloria Onitiri is wonderful as a dark, comical godmother, wielding Botox; more like Grace Jones than a cuddly fairy. Her character feels slightly underused, however – it would have been great to see her a little more.
Georgina Castle and Laura Baldwinsmoothing stepsisters are straight out of Island of love, Going through Made in Chelsea, and Caleb roberts makes an unexpected and flamboyant impression as Prince Charming.
Writer Emerald Fennell exposes the pressures on women to change their appearance to attract a man and overturn the traditional idea of a girl saved by a prince. As with his Oscar-winning rape revenge satire Promising young woman, Fennel subverts the traditional story of female conformism, but feminist themes are presented with humor and lightness, rather than being pushed down our throats.
Lloyd Webber’s diverse score incorporates melancholy waltzes, rock ballads, and formal orchestral pieces to the royal court. There are fewer earworms than you might expect, but songs like the “Far Too Late” ballad and the enthusiastic dedication to all things masculine “Man’s Man” ensure the audience’s attention and enjoyment.
The costs of the £ 6million issue are obvious; the production looks amazing. Gabriela TylesovaThe costume design of is utterly lavish, with looks as diverse as today’s Royal Ascot, Games of Thrones and the court of Louis XIV. Hats and headdresses, in particular, are simply eliminating. Tylesova’s scenography is also detailed and immersive, beautifully lit by Bruno Poet.
Sean kennyThe impressive redesign of the hall allowed for both a conventional theatrical setup and the ability to turn into a round during the performance, and Laurence Connor’s energetic direction takes full advantage of the diversity this stage offers.
You won’t remember every song and the length might be shortened a bit, but this wildly over-the-top show is full of joyful exuberance and playful spirit. It was worth the wait.
Photo credit: Tristram Kenton