It’s been a rocky road to opening night but after months of false starts and pandemic postponements, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s much-anticipated musical Cinderella is finally enjoying its West End moment.
Billed as the hottest ticket in town, the legendary composer doesn’t do things by halves and this production is testament to that. It’s a pimped-up, progressive version of the traditional fairytale that sees a grunge Cinderella – admittedly with the voice of an angel – stomp around in Dr. Martens and black lipstick.
Carrie Hope Fletcher (Tom from McFly’s sister) shines as rebellious Cinders who’s secretly in love with her childhood friend Prince Sebastian (Michael Hamway).
Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella is the happy ever after we’ve all been looking for – even if it’s just for one night!
After the mysterious disappearance of his older brother Prince Charming, the Queen forces Prince Sebastian to marry and take to the throne as she’s convinced a Royal Wedding will save the town from being a PR disaster.
Like all fairytales, things never run smoothly as the kingdom of Belleview sadly doesn’t have the same love for awkward Seb as they do for the “devilishly handsome” Prince Charming. Both outsiders living in a town devoted to beauty and physical perfection, Cinderella and Prince Sebastian are perfectly matched, despite their reluctance to recognise the underlying feelings in their relationship.
The supporting performers are well cast, especially the villains, unsurprising given the script is by Killing Eve’s Emerald Fennell. Victoria Hamilton-Barritt as the evil stepmother frankly steals the show. Encapsulating the old school glamour of Sophia Loren with the personality of Cruella DeVil. Hamilton-Barritt’s acerbic wit delivered with comedic timing and exaggerated Botox-style facial expressions captivates the audience at every turn. “Love is for peasants. I loathed your father and it was the happiest marriage in the kingdom,” she boasts to Cinderella.
Rebecca Trehearn is excellent as the Queen and delivers a fantastic haughtiness to the proceedings. Her show-stopping duet I Know You with Hamilton-Barritt is by far one of the most memorable moments.
The stepsisters’ (Georgina Castle and Laura Baldwin) catchy number Unfair proves a crowd pleaser as do most of the high energy ensemble tracks performed by the exceptionally good-looking cast, after all, one would expect nothing less in Belleview!
This latest incarnation is filled with twists and turns, although some work better than others. Gone is the old school fairy godmother with a wand, step forward a shiny new charismatic version played by Gloria Onitiri wielding a scalpel. A dab hand at plastic surgery, Onitiri gives a powerful performance and transforms Cinderella into the belle of the ball. It’s an ironic twist given Cinders resistance to conform, especially to the identikit Love Island-style ideals of the kingdom.
With an excellent cast, inclusive story, belting score and a slew of innuendos, this fantastically camp musical is big and bold.
But alas, Cinderella goes to the ball and so does the audience as the rotating stage gives a wonderfully immersive experience. However, it’s the surprise return of Prince Charming that thrills the town and equally the patrons, given the rapturous applause. Caleb Roberts is captivating as the bare-chested archetypal Alpha Male with a booming voice and a shock revelation that brings this new version kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
With an excellent cast, inclusive story, belting score and a slew of innuendos, this fantastically camp musical is big and bold. There may be a few flaws along the way, but given the last 18 months, the feel-good vibes and laughter prove the perfect tonic. Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella is the happy ever after we’ve all been looking for – even if it’s just for one night!