It was in 2019 that the pieces of this show started to come together, with actors being cast in roles, script in hand and creative team in place. A workshop of this show took place in May, 2019, with 2020 in sight for the show to open. But the debut was postponed several times due to COVID, with one of the government lockdowns starting the day rehearsals were set to begin. Creator Andrew Lloyd Webber used this time to record the cast album, where sessions started from March 2020 and resumed whenever restrictions would allow for sessions. Meanwhile rehearsals for the show took place on zoom. But then uncertainty about the opening grew more and more as the long winter lockdown started. In person rehearsals eventually started but the government hadn’t yet allowed theatres to open. Then lockdown was extended another month but theatres were not allowed to open, Lloyd Webber threatened to open, but in the end he didn’t. So ‘Cinderella finally eventually had it’s opening night on August 18th, 2021. Was it worth the wait? Yes!
This is not the Cinderella story that we all knew as children. It’s Emerald Fennell’s take on the story. Fennell, who won an Oscar recently for writing the women’s revenge film ‘Promising Young Woman’ gives us a twisty version of the fairytale with Cinderella (Carrie Hope Fletcher), a Doc Martens black lace wearing modern woman, not afraid to shakethings up. She’s empowered, and not the submissive young woman in the fairytale. Sure, she still lives with her wicked stepmother (a brilliant Victoria Hamilton Barritt) and her two awful stepsisters (Georgina Castle and Laura Baldwin) in the small town of Belleville, but she got her sights on getting out of there. Also, Cinderella is secretly in love with Prince Sebastian (Ivano Turco) who has suddenly become heir to the the throne after his brother Prince Charming (Caleb Roberts) left the kingdom to be with this boyfriend (now that’s a twist we don’t see coming!). Meanwhile the Queen (Rebecca Trehearn) insists Sebastian get married, and a grand ball is thrown with the aim of finding Sebastian a bride on the night. Of course we all know how the story plays out – Cinderella meets her fairy godmother (a scene-stealing Gloria Onitiri), attends the ball not looking at all like herself (though the dress she wears is very unspectacular), the glass shoe is a major plot point in the show, and the rest is history.
‘Cinderella’ the show will sweep you off your feet. It’s a lavish production where one call tell a whole lot of money was thrown at. It’s in a brilliant Theatre (Gillian Lynn on Drury Lane in Covent Garden) where every seat in the house has great sightlines of the stage. And the cast are all brilliant (Hope Fletcher shines in the role, even though she is not in the Cinderella Lily James mold from the 2015 film). The stage changes it’s position in a clever move during the ball scene – a scene where some of the other dresses are very spectacular. And while the ending is a bit flat after such a lavish show, and there’s not one memorable song in it at all, ‘Cinderella’ will definitely sweep you off your feet. Cheers to Lloyd Webber for his perseverance!
Further information: www.andrewlloydwebberscinderella.com
Cinderella is playing until May 29, 2022
Written by Emerald Fennell
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics by David Zippel
Directed by Laurence Connor
Choreography by JoAnn M Hunter
GILLIAN LYNNE THEATRE
166 Drury Lane
Group rates & concessions apply
Ticket prices start from £19.50 (during previews)
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday: 7:30pm
Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday: 3:00pm
Review by Tim Baros