So, you think you know the Cinderella story – the one about the poor “servant” to the evil stepmother and her taunting stepsisters? Well, think again, for the creatives behind the musical have shaken things up, even if the essence of the tale remains unchanged. “Yes”, Cinderella still gets to go to the ball and catch the eye of the Prince, but “no”, the Prince doesn’t go from house to house to see whether the errant shoe fits. And there is more to one of the stepsisters in this adaptation of the classic yarn. The production includes liberal lashings of good humour and romance, magic and delight.
Cinderella is good clean family fun, with plenty to satisfy adults as well as children. In this case, a fox and racoon become coach drivers. The leads are wonderful and the chemistry between them is noteworthy. Shubshri Kandiah is quite the revelation as Ella – her crisp, clear and melodic vocal tone a sheer delight. Incidentally, just why she is “labelled” Cinderella is explained as part of the narrative arc. Ainsley Melham capitalises upon the self-deprecating humour associated with his character, Prince Topher and backs that up with a strong singing voice.
Silvie Paladino sparkles as “Mad Marie” and the Fairy Godmother. She enjoys some big moments. Todd McKenney is faultless as Sebastian, the manipulative attendant to the Prince, a role he milks to crowd-pleasing effect. Matilda Moran grabs the latitude given to stepsister Gabrielle and impresses. Bianca Bruce nails “entitled” and “mouthy” as fellow stepsister Charlotte. She proves to be a scene stealer.
Tina Bursill is gifted some choice evil lines as Ella’s brutal stepmother (called Madame by her natural offspring) and makes them count. Daniel Belle showcases his depth in delivery as Lord Pinkleton, the man who delivers Royal proclamations. Josh Gardiner gives a deliberately amusingly nervy performance as the frustrated commoner and do-gooder with designs on Gabrielle.
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s music and lyrics are very easy on the ear. Worked into the storyline is stunning, seamlessly choreographed, dancing. Rich costuming, including beautiful gowns, by William Ivey Long are among the visual highlights. A number of the “transformations” in character looks are jaw dropping. The sets (by Anna Louisoz) and props transport us to the magical world that has traditionally been associated with the fairy tale.
Directed by Mark Brokaw, with musical direction from Simon Holt, Rogers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella is enchanting, uplifting and most enjoyable. In short, it is a great night of entertainment. Cinderella is playing at the grand Regent Theatre until 22nd July, before moving onto Lyric Theatre, QPAC in Brisbane on 5th August and Sydney Lyric on 23rd October.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- Shrek the Musical (QPAC) – theatre review
- Shrek The Musical (Her Majesty’s Theatre) – theatre review
- Aladdin (QPAC) – theatre review
Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.