Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella | Theatre Review
Where the recent Amazon Prime Cinderella is more for the TikTok age, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella is the Cinderella for the millennial age. And it’s a solid show.
I’ve had my ear to the ground about this play from the moment that Carrie Hope Fletcher was cast to lead the show as ‘Bad’ Cinderella. I’ve followed her career for a few years now, as for some reason our careers have been slightly linked. She was a client of the literary agency I worked at, we met several times at launches and parties, and then she came to narrate the audiobooks of an author I work on at HarperCollins.
Then, after the announcement of the show and Carrie, I discovered Emerald Fennell was writing the book. She is one of my creative idols – an actress, author, oscar-winning screenwriter, and now the writer behind a revamped Cinderella.
Call me intrigued.
Of course, due to COVID, it went through development hell as every time they went to open or to present a lockdown would ensue. Andrew Lloyd Webber was understandably vocal about how disheartening and frustrating this was, not just for him but the theatre industry as a whole.
However, while I respect and agree with his views that the arts have not been supported, I wish he hadn’t used the program of the play to bash the government. It’s only small though, but I go to the theatre for escapism, not political opinions.
Cinderella Musical Review
But, onto the actual review.
Sitting in Row J in the stalls I had a perfect view of the stage. There are no gaps between attendees and masks are ‘encouraged’ but really are entirely optional. I kept mine on and it was no hindrance.
The stage is constantly moving, with set designs coming in and out in every direction and a genuinely spinning floor which made the dance sequences all the more impressive to me.
The ensemble is sparse for a West End musical, but funny and heavily utilised. Each player has a role to complete and remains memorable, with the baker selling his hot buns whilst shirtless being my personal fave. *wink face*
Now onto the main cast:
Carrie Hope Fletcher as Cinderella
Carrie is excellent as Cinderella, her voice is incredible. I saw her a while back in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and she was fine, but not memorable – to me. I wondered if maybe she was too young for the role of Truly Scrumptious. Cinderella was literally a role that was made for her. And her voice was *chefs kiss* perfection. There wasn’t a bum note and I got goosebumps. Her voice was as clear as the crystals on her shoes.
Cinderella is a rebellious goth girl who wears Doc Martens and black lace, completely anti-the Belleville ‘look’ of perfectly primped and prepared prettiness. She is supposedly anti-love, because of how her step-mother treated her father who has since passed away.
Although she’s the main character, I would say the plot revolves around Belleville and Cinderella is a part of it. This allows all of the cast their moment and doesn’t make it the Carrie Hope Fletcher Show, which I liked a lot. It’s a real ensemble success.
Ivano Turco as Prince Sebastian
Ivano is a complete newcomer to the West End, this is his musical theatre debut straight out of training at the Urdang Academy. He’s young, and he looks it, but this is in his favour as the ‘kid brother’ of Prince Charming. I didn’t expect much, to be honest, but his voice is smoother than running water. His big song, Only You, Lonely You was gorgeous.
And the surprises he brings in the second half… let’s just say the audience cheered. It was epic.
Victoria Hamilton-Barritt as The Stepmother
Victoria Hamilton-Barritt is not a name I know, but she’s been around the West End a long time by all accounts. She brings a Glenn Close in 101 Dalmatians vibes, complete with the cigarette holder and sleek black and white ensemble.
She uses a unique voice in the show, and she must need to drink gallons of honey and lemon to soothe her throat on a daily!
Her singing is sublime, in a sort of speak-sing variety, almost tenor, and her comedy timing is on-point. She has the best one-liners and comebacks:
Cinderella: Where am I meant to go?
The Stepmother: There must a brothel that caters for blind men.
Rebecca Trehearn as The Queen
If you’ve ever watched an episode of Blackadder Series 2, and you cackled Queen Elizabeth’s brutal silliness, then you’ll adore The Queen in Cinderella. Rebecca Trehearn plays her as a mix of Miranda Richardson’s Queen Elizabeth I and the slutty Queen, Princess Diana could have been.
Her outfits are massive and she is constantly telling someone to do something, whilst stroking a man’s bare chest or drinking champagne. Her obsession with her son, Prince Charming, is slightly Oedipus-like – Freud would have had a field day at Emerald Fennell’s storyline – but nonetheless hilarious.
The Production Review
A fun production for anyone who can’t bear to watch Disney’s adaptation of Cinderella anymore. With moments that literally made the crowd cheer. This is a modern-day Cinderella story that we can all get on board with. There’s no eye-rolling or need to ‘urgh’ during the show, and elements remain unpredictable and surprising throughout.
The ‘Fairy’ Godmother has morphed into a plastic surgeon whose magic only runs out at midnight because that’s the time when a woman’s feet and back are killing her from wearing heels! That’s real life!
The staging was incredible; if you sit in the stalls up to Row H then you’ll want to go to the toilet at the interval because you won’t get a chance during Act 2… That’s all I’ll say on that matter.
The costumes are divine, much like the costumes, you’ll find in the recent Cruella film on Disney+. I couldn’t stop thinking to myself ‘I’d wear that’ or ‘that would make a fab wedding dress’ whilst I was watching. There’s something for every taste.
I recommend going into the show without knowing most of the songs if you can. I know Bad Cinderella and I Know I Have a Heart have been played a lot in promotional videos. But the others like Man’s Man and Only Knew, Lonely You are excellent and pack more of a punch.
To me, it’s an A+ show. It has a great story and just the right hint of recognizable Cinderella storylines and modern updates/twists. A great show for a family day out, or as a birthday present for someone that loves light-hearted theatre. I highly recommend seeing the current cast, as there was not a weak link. Overall, you’re guaranteed to have a ball.
Have you seen Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.
Disclaimer: I wrote this review before the despicable behaviour of the ALW team who announced the closing of the show on social media before even updating the cast and the future cast that had been hired to take over in July 2022. This is not behavior I stand behind and it has severely impacted my opinion of ALW productions.