For me, the sign of a great musical is leaving the theatre with a smile on my face whilst singing along to tunes I’ve just learnt – it’s now a day later and I’m still singing “You Shall go to the Ball” from Stiles and Drew’s Soho Cinders, a new musical that is playing at the Union Theatre in Southwark until the 22nd December 2016.
The piece is performed in a promenade setting within the theatre’s black box space, the show fits its space beautifully – even with a considerably large cast of 9 core characters and an ensemble of 8 on stage altogether – this is testament to the hard work of the creative team behind the show; they’ve created a show that is well blocked, cleverly choreographed and beautifully staged without any actual set!
The production has been cast well, with each performer having an opportunity to shine on stage, I couldn’t see any weak links in this production, every cast member was giving it their all to make the production work.
It’s not often that I write about casting in my reviews, however, I really must say that casting director Harry Blumenau has worked wonders with this production. From the casting of Lewis Asquith as former swimming champion-come-mayoral candidate and getting the physicality just right, to the magnificent securing of Michaela Stern and Natalie Harman as Dana and Clodagh, the show’s ugly sisters.
Joshua Lewindon as Robbie is also really well cast. He plays his role with great conviction, illustrating a roller-coaster of emotions as our modern day Cinders.
The piece is pantomimic in part (Oh no it isn’t! ) yet the piece has real heart and works well as a modern-day pastiche of the age old Fairy Tale, Cinderella, skipping forward hundreds of years from pumpkins and singing birds to vibrant, sordid, extravert strip clubs and launderettes in the streets of Soho.
The piece is very uptempo with a very well-written, slick script and fun, memorable songs. The book works well and allows each character to share their story with the audience. There are no unnecessary side plots or spare parts in this piece.
I loved this show. I laughed VERY loudly throughout and even let out a few whoops every now and then (I wasn’t the only one either).
Over and above everything I must highly commend Michaela Stern and Natalie Harman for their portrayal of modern day ugly sisters. These ladies are superb. Their characterisation is a strike of genius, their performance levels outstanding and their on-stage presence electric. These girls have fabulous comic timing and their rendition of “I’m so over men” is the highlight of the whole show for me. In my humble opinion, these two girls are worth the ticket price alone.
I would also like to comment on the ending of Act 1 – and the opening of Act 2, “Who’s That Boy?”. For me, this is a perfect example of a well-staged scene. Set at the ball, all characters are on stage, the choreography reminiscent of a scene in a period film such as Dangerous Liaisons. The scene is beautiful to watch and shows off the performance levels that this cast have. Simple and effective. It is a great exit from the first half and a wonderful upbeat start to Act 2.
Review by Faye Stockley
When impoverished launderette owner Robbie becomes romantically involved with engaged Mayoral candidate James Prince, his step-sisters become the least of his problems! James and Robbie’s worlds collide forcing them to fight for their own fairy-tale ending in this hilarious, satirical twist on the classic Cinderella story. The potent mix of politics, sex-scandals and true love come together in this contemporary musical with
MUSIC By George Stiles
LYRICS By Anthony Drewe
BOOK By Anthony Drewe and Elliot Davis
PRODUCED By Sasha Regan for Union Productions
Director Will Keith
Choreographer Joanne McShane
Musical Supervisor Joe Louis Robinson
Musical Director Sarah Morrison
DATE 23rd November – 22nd December 2016
TIMES Tuesday to Saturday @ 7.30pm
Saturday and Sunday @ 2.30pm