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Review: RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN’S CINDERELLA – Tabard Theatre, Chiswick


RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN’S CINDERELLA
Tabard Theatre, 2 Bath Road, Chiswick W4 1LW

The Tabard Theatre has pulled another winner out of the bag – this time with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. The story of the Prince who wants to lead a normal life and find the girl of his dreams, and the girl who wants to escape the drudgery of her home life and find the man of her dreams, is well known. But this musical version has never been performed in London until now.

This fairytale musical is brought to life on stage by a cast of 10, directed by Alex Young. The clever and imaginative set is designed by Christopher Hone, and the musical direction from Eamonn O’Dwyer is rich and enchanting. Matt Elson’s choreography is very tight and makes good use of the Tabard’s stage area.

Prince Christopher (Vlach Ashton) has a beautifully rich singing voice and looks every inch the handsome Prince of every girl’s dreams. His delivery throughout the performance is excellent, although there were a couple of moments when his movement appeared a little too rehearsed. There is a wonderfully acted scene at the start where the Prince bumps into Cinderella (Kirsty Mann) in a town square. Both actors show great chemistry together, and it is easy to get lost in the whirlwind of their romance.

The Royal Steward, Lionel (performed with just the right amount of campness by Josh Carter), announces the ball in a commanding voice which leads into one of my favourite numbers, The Prince Is Giving A Ball, an excellently choreographed number on a sometimes very busy stage. Carter’s delivery and comic timing throughout the performance is excellent, with the slightest look or movement conveying a great deal and often giving plenty to laugh about.

The very beautiful Kirsty Mann’s voice is given the opportunity to shine in In My Own Little Corner, and she does not disappoint. Displaying the right mix of vulnerability and resilience, Mann’s Cinderella is sure to capture hearts.

In Boys And Girls Like You And Me, performed by King Maximilian (Brendan Matthew) and Queen Constantina (Sarah Dearlove), I was particularly impressed with Dearlove’s delivery, although this in no way detracts from Matthew’s excellent performance.

Cinderella's two step-sisters are performed to hilarious perfection by Lydia Jenkins and Kate Scott. Both completely different, yet scarily alike, the sisters’ constant squabbling provides many a laugh throughout the performance. Scott’s pouty and petulant Joy is deliciously spoilt and Jenkins’ socially inept Grace gives the audience many laughs.

For me though, the performance of the night goes to Helen Colby, who cleverly manages to combine the roles of the boot-wearing crop-wielding dominatrix of a Stepmother and the down-to-earth, gown wearing, tea-drinking Fairy Godmother, slipping from one to the other with apparent ease. Colby performs the very contrasting characters to full effect, with her Fairy Godmother displaying the sort of no-nonsense straight-talking attitude that is missing in the many Disney-esque versions.

The show contains much warm-spirited humour and some frankly outstandingly magical moments. Particularly impressive is the transformation scene, where the pumpkin turns into a carriage, the mice turn into horses, and a spectacular dress change, all of which happens right before our eyes, proving that the impossible is possible. The dress change in particular brought applause and gasps at its magical transformation from a dowdy blue dress to white sparkling ball gown just from a sprinkling of fairy dust.

The characters are complemented by an ensemble of Paul Dyke and Louise Gookey who play a variety of roles, including the animals, town-square crowds and guests at the ball.

Featuring a wonderfully rich and multi-layered score, performed by a five-piece band in the wings, there are some real musical gems in this production. The rousing final number – There’s Music in You – is performed by all the cast, and I left singing it in my head for a good hour or two afterwards.

A cheerfully-spirited show that will appeal to both adults and children, the Tabard’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella is magical, warm-hearted Christmas entertainment for the whole family.

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella plays at the Tabard Theatre until 8 January. Tickets £15-£19 from www.tabardtheatre.co.uk

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