Cinderella | Gillian Lynne Theatre | Review
A couple of months ago, star studded, glittering theatre galas seemed an impossibility but now the West End is bursting into life once again with old shows that are firm favourites and a few new ones to tickle our fancy. At last night’s gala performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical Cinderella there was palpable excitement in the air as the full capacity crowd lateral flowed into the Gillian Lynne Theatre. Cinderella has been a long awaited musical originally due to open back in January 2020 and has suffered delay after delay. Throughout the pandemic, Lloyd Webber has been probably the most prolific voices advocating the safe reopening of theatres so it was not surprising people were out in force to support him.
Thankfully, the wait was worth it. Devised and written by Oscar winning Emerald Fennell and directed by Laurence Connor, this retelling of the classic story is fresh and contemporary. Gone is the meek downtrodden Disney princess, this Cinderella knows her own mind and has plenty of sass. Carrie Hope Fletcher has been involved with the project from the start and she is perfectly cast with a strikingly powerful voice and charming demeanor. Although many of the characters we recognise, the story meanders away from the fairy tale early in the first act with the introduction of Prince Sebastian (Charming’s younger, self conscious brother) as Cinderella’s friend and confidant. Understudy Michael Hamway took on this role last night with aplomb and the audience took him to their hearts when he sang the ballad Only You, Lonely You.
The supporting cast are without fault, a quintet of actresses enhance the show with their humorous one-liners and impeccable timing. Rebecca Trehearn as The Queen of the Belleview and Victoria Hamilton-Barritt as Cinderella’s stepmother complement each other beautifully and Georgina Castle and Laura Baldwin team up to play not so ugly but incredibly vain stepsisters Marie and Adele. Cinderella’s fairy saviour is replaced by ‘the godmother’ Gloria Onitiri weaving her magic in quite an alternative fashion.
It is during the second act that the show really comes together. There is real growth in the character storylines and there are continual plot twists that keep you guessing. You cannot help having a beaming smile on your face as show reaches its conclusion.
The set and costume designer Gabriela Tylesove has created a visual feast for the eyes which is enhanced by Bruno Poet’s stunning lighting. Lloyd Webber’s music is varied and catchy with more than a little resemblance to Disney showstoppers and the waltz at the ball was particularly beautiful. David Zippel‘s lyrics were entertaining and suits the style of the show.
Cinderella is the musical that the West End needs at the moment, family friendly, diversely cast, deliciously pleasing to the eye with songs that you find yourself humming for days. It has tonnes of appeal and now it has finally made it to the stage will hopefully run for many months.