A review by Pauline Flannery for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

 

Cinderella

 

Music and Lyrics by Rodgers & Hammerstein

 

Directed by Alex Young

 

Tabard Theatre

 

29 November 2011 – 8 January 2012

 

In 1957, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella starred Julie Andrews. You can hear strains in the score and vocal arrangement which still shout, fifty-five years on, that there’s gold in them there hills…..Cinderella is unashamedly lush, romantic, and exudes a warmth which is pitch-perfect in the season of mulled wine, mince pies and bitter winds……It unites these giants of musical theatre to the classic, Christmas fable of the down-trodden girl transformed into a princess…….Yet the panto-style of this production sometimes sits at odds with the love-story theme where prince-ordinary-boy meets dispossessed-imaginative-girl in the village square, and there are moments when the action is driven more by Eastenders grit than MGM-style confection. 

That said, director Alex Young does a good job with a cast of ten using puppetry, mime, slapstick, dumb-show, song and dance. The transition scene is cleverly realised with the ubiquitous white mice and lampshade-pumpkin turned into a coach. The fairy god mother (Helen Colby) has attitude, a latter-day Nancy, with her nothing-you-can- tell-me-I-don’t-know-already face. ‘It’s not a question of fitting in but standing out,’ she says….And we are there, championing the under-dog, as we all wish upon a star…..

The Toy-box set (designer Chris Hone) with sugar-frosted, snow-coated houses, mosaiced archways , bridges and paths is enchanting, while windows, a clock and coat of arms open like a giant advent calander. The centre-piece is the chandelier with teardrop/icicle pieces representing Cinderella’s mother. 

The singing is exhilerating, uplifting, particularly in the ensemble numbers where the textured harmonies and arrangements delight such as in ‘The Prince is Giving a Ball’ with its long litany of ridiculous names. ‘It’s Possible’, ‘A Lovely Night’ and the scene-stealing ‘Stepsisters’ Lament’ “her skin maybe delicate and soft but not any softer than a doe’s is.” The rich quality of Baritone Vlach Ashton’s Prince is thrilling, made more so as Ashton is the quintessential romantic lead - tall, in fact very tall, dark and handsome, despite the street-cred, dun-brown, bum-hugging trousers.

The costumes do bump and grind as the styles wear on: corsetted satins, brown bustiers, red ring-master coats, emerald-green bell-boy coats, leather shorts and high street jackets. Yet there were two ingenious touches: the Biggles’ goggles for the royal family, and the row of watches representing medals worn by the Prince’s father - very British, very eccentric, wonderfully whimsical.

The stepsisters Grace and Joy, a lisping, scratching Llydia Jenkins and horse-braying Kate Scott, are gargoyles, dispensed by their mother as “rubbish and drivel.” Yet less is more when playing a small space, a trick learnt by Josh Carter as he keeps tight, sardonic control over the Prince’s confidante, Lionel. “I wish there was something between us”, he quips to Cinderella’s step-mother…….”A continent, maybe.” Kirsty Mann, is a fresh-faced Cinderella, and she has moments of genuine pathos and verve in the Walter Mitty-style song ‘In My Own Little Corner.’ The evening though belongs to R & H in the rediscovery of some buried treasure - an alternative, Christmas offering with a few……just a few, of my favorite things.

 


TABARD THEATRE
2 Bath Road, London W4 1LW
2 hours including 15 minute interval
Turnham Green; buses 27, 94, 267, 337, 391, E3, H91
£19, £17, £15, £9 youth groups
Book online at www.tabardtheatre.co.uk call 0208 995 6035

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