Fans of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Carrie Hope Fletcher have waited a long time to go to the ball. The Phantom of the Opera composer’s latest musical, Cinderella, suffered cancelled performances and a delayed opening night due to the coronavirus, but that sure hasn’t dampened its shine.
If you’re familiar with Killing Eve, then you’ll have some idea of the tone which writer Emerald Fennell strikes in this take on the classic fairytale. It’s certainly not a pantomime, where Cinders is typically more hapless and subservient. Fletcher’s protagonist in contrast, with a dark purple lipstick and clothes as unmatched as her wit, opts for rebellion over despair. This is modern, firebrand feminism (see the punchy leading number, Bad Cinderella), and with Charles Perrault’s original looking like a blank canvas in comparison, Fennell spray paints it with colour like Cinderella does to a statue of Prince Charming – who isn’t even the main prince in Belleville anymore.
That would be Prince Sebastian (endearingly played by Michael Hamway for this performance, in lieu of Ivano Turco), who rejects the testosterone of toxic masculinity for a more timid, heartfelt approach to life. Following Cinderella’s act of vandalism, the wedding, far from being a genuine symbol of love, is used as a PR exercise by the Queen (Rebecca Trehearn). Sebastian is the one thrust into the spotlight as his mother desperately searches for a lover, despite his protestations.
Cinderella is now playing at the Gillian Lynne Theatre.