Cinderella is the only musical Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote for television. The original version, with Julie Andrews in the title role and Edie Adams as the Fairy Godmother, WAS played on live television March 31, 1957, to TV's largest audience ever to that date (107-million viewers).
The 1997 film, produced by Walt Disney television, was co-produced by Whitney Houston, who also appeared as Cinderella's Fairy Godmother, and starred Brandy in the titular role, alongside other stars. Cinderella proved a major rating success, originally airing to 60 million viewers.
Take Two Theatricals and Club 11 London have presented the UK premiere of this Tony Award-winning musical at the elegant Cadogan Hall, under the direction of Jonathan O’Boyle.
The same characters of the classic tale are still there: Ella (Christine Allado), the prince (Jac Yarrow), the wicked stepmother (Mazz Murray) and her two spoiled daughters (Zoe Rainey and Jodie Jacobs), and of course, the fairy godmother (Dianne Pilkington). There is also the rebel Jean-Michel (Dean John-Wilson) who brings some kind of morality to the story.
Being a semi-staged concert, some of the characters and storylines get left behind, and the plot feels unresolved.
The solid cast sounds so good. Prince Topher, played by Jac, is charming and spontaneous, and it is refreshing to see the message that it is ok not to be the person that everyone expects you to be. He is goofy and easily manipulated by the evil Sebastian. But Cinderella and her kindness will help him find the way. Jac has a natural confidence and astonishing vocals: he is pure, natural talent.
Ella, played by Christine, is gracious, empowering, glamorous and strong at the same time. Her beautiful vocals are highlighted in songs such as "In My Own Little Corner," the duet "Ten Minutes Ago" and "A Lovely Night".
Madame (a wonderful performance by Mazz), the cruel stepmother, and Charlotte, played by Jodie, gave brilliant characterizations and had the audience laughing at their jokes and their comic timing.
The cast was accompanied by the 21-piece London Musical Theatre Orchestra directed by Freddie Tapner. Animated projections, by George Reeve, helped the audience follow the story.
The show is beautiful and romantic, with several twists and funny sketches throughout the story – although some of the jokes fell flat and some moments had a “Panto” feeling.
Cinderella is a timeless story: its fascination will never stop to enchant audiences. For sure, it delighted the audience who gave a standing ovation to the cast and the band, at the end of the sold-out night at the magical Cadogan Hall.
Photo: Darren Bell