As Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical Cinderella gets under way, you may wonder if we need yet another version of the classic fairy tale. But while this adaptation manages without the magic, it is full of charm with plenty of campness and cheeky exuberance, going on to undermine the tale’s traditional tropes with a very modern take.
In this version, Cinderella is a rebellious goth whose antics threaten the small picturesque kingdom she lives in. Prince Charming is missing, presumed dead, so his diffident younger brother, Sebastian, has been thrust into the limelight, under pressure to marry as part of his new regal duties. But his childhood sweetheart is Cinderella who, hoping to impress him at the ball, transforms herself into a picture-perfect princess with the help of fashion stylist The Godmother. So far, it just about follows the familiar story, despite some major tweaks, but writer Emerald Fennell soon takes it in totally new, and sometimes surprising, directions.
Carrie Hope Fletcher is perfectly cast as a “bad” Cinderella, giving a superb performance of wit and intelligence, including show-stoppers “Far Too Late” and “Bad Cinderella”. She has wonderful chemistry with the excellent Michael Hamway standing in as Sebastian from featured actor Ivano Turco. Other highlights include Victoria Hamilton-Barritt as Cinderella’s stepmother, hilariously louche with a vocal dexterity that oozes camp. Georgina Castle and Laura Baldwin are perfect foils as the gloriously vain stepsisters while Rebecca Trehearn is a delightfully lascivious Queen. Gloria Onitiri explodes onto the stage as The Godmother but feels under-used.
Directed by Laurence Connor, this is a joyful, entertaining production, with some impressive set and costume designs by Gabriela Tylesova, enhanced by Bruno Poet’s lighting. With melodies that will worm their way into your ear, it is a bold, brash and up-to-date retelling of the classic story, arguing that it is better to be yourself than pretend to be something else to please others.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella at the Gillian Lynne Theatre in London is booking to 29 May 2022.
Pictured top: Carrie Hope Fletcher and Victoria Hamilton Barritt in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella. Photo: Tristram Kenton