Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, new book by Douglas Carter Beane

Original Direction Mark Brokaw, Tour Direction Gina Rattan

Dates and Venue April 11 – 16, 2017, Tuesday - Sunday evenings 7:30pm, Sat and Sun 2pm matinees | Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Reviewer Maria Figueiredo

Cinderella is a spectacular, musical performance. The picturesque set, the beautiful costumes, the melodious songs and the orchestra all work perfectly together to provide the audience with magic and delight. It is the attention to details that makes this classic musical stunning. The capable and talented costume designer, William Ivey Long, produces the colourful outfits with the men in silver attire that show power and shine in the moonlight and the women in all the colours of the rainbow wearing flouncy, crinoline skirts and lovely bodices with matching shoes and feathers in their hair. This keeps to the age-old theme of men being strong and women being pretty and decorative!

However, this Cinderella is spunky and when she gets a chance to talk to the prince she makes him aware of the problems in his land. “You need to open your eyes to what’s happening in your kingdom,” she says. She takes charge of her destiny and with the help of her charming fairy godmother, Marie (played so elegantly by Leslie Jackson) she is able not only to capture the heart of her prince but also to convince him to change the social fabric of his kingdom. Little details like giving her glass slipper to the prince rather than accidentally leaving it behind, reinforce this theme. This helps to make the story-line modern and appropriate for today's more socially-conscious audience. Jean Michel (Chris Woods) a radical young socialist who catches the eye of Cinderella's step-sister, reinforces the concept of social justice. In this way, this version of Cinderella combines the story's classic elements- glass slippers, a pumpkin, the prince and the dazzling ball with contemporary ideas of justice for all. This Cinderella has not only a pretty face but also a soul for kindness and compassion in a fairytale setting. She even forgives her wicked stepmother!

The professional actors are all talented and act their roles with ease and brilliance. Cinderella (Ella in this play) played by Tatyana Lubov as the heroine and Hayden Stanes as the Prince (Topher, short for Christopher in the play) are perfect in their roles. They, together with the fairy godmother, Marie, lift you from the mundane world into one of infinite possibilities and magical happenings.

Magic is in the air and it is truly amazing to see how in a blink of an eye the dowdy, peasant dress of Ella transforms into a gown of awesome beauty. In a second, miraculously Cinderella is transformed in her glittering white gown and sparkling, Venetian glass slippers entering a golden carriage with horses and horsemen taking her to the ball. The set is dazzling starting with the scenery of the forest like in Beauty and the Beast but changing flawlessly and quickly to Cinderella's house and her 'lonely setting in the chair', to the glamorous ballroom in the castle, to the forest with an enormous moon that transforms the landscape into the mysterious surroundings again. Finally, it transports an awe-struck audience to the palace entrance.

Most in the audience go to Rodger's and Hammerstein performances for the songs and the dance and this musical provides a wonderful array of both. The keynote songs from the original have been retained. The lovely voices of Cinderella and the Prince in duet and that of Cinderella with her fairy godmother are breathtaking. Lord Pickleton (played skilfully by Vincent B. Davis) with his powerful, baritone voice provides a good contrast to the melodious voices of the younger singers. The dances with the technicolour dresses are mesmerizing. The grand finale with Cinderella in a beautiful, gleaming wedding gown kissing her charming prince make you fill with wonder at the beauty and charm of this brilliant performance. This is an uplifting and wonderful musical for the young and old.

© 2017 Maria Figueiredo