Warmhearted and sincere, Jonathan O’Boyle’s concert production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical take on Cinderella is gorgeous to watch and listen to from start to finish.
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s take on the classic fairytale Cinderella was one that was unknown to me before watching Jonathan O’Boyle’s dreamy concert production and how it deserves a full scale production over here – with this exact cast if it were ever to be possible.
Having been originally written for television in the 1950’s, Rodger and Hammerstein’s own take on the fairytale features a gorgeous variety of music that is filled with romance, drama and playfulness that was their signature style throughout their partnership. With songs such as ‘Impossible/Possible’, ‘Ten Minutes Ago’ and ‘In My Own Little Corner’, the whole musical has a wistful quality about it.
This is also then reflected perfectly in Jonathan O’Boyle’s gorgeously evocative staging that fully immersed the audience into the fantasy world, helped by George Reeve’s wonderfully effective and stylish projections used to highlight the changes of scenes – most memorably during the moments when Cinderella flees the ball.
Blending nicely between songs is Douglas Carter Beane’s new book, which was originally written by Oscar Hammerstein. Filled with humour and warmth, the characters and the relationships between them all felt very natural, while the core message of the importance of following dreams wherever they lead was strong but not overpowering. The story flowed easily between songs, linking from one to the other nicely. But it also felt extremely contemporary, with Jean-Michel’s need to help those less fortunate and the slow rise of democracy with the announcement of an election of a prime minister to transfer some of the power from Royalty to ordinary people.
But it was the music and cast that really made the evening shine. Performed by the ever strong London Musical Theatre Orchestra, the score soared from start to finish, offering them ample opportunity to highlight the magic of the music in moments such as ‘Waltz for a Ball’ and ‘The Pursuit’.
As Ella, Christine Allado makes for an utterly charming potential princess, regal and confident – no matter what is thrown at her. Her rendition of ‘In My Own Little Corner’ is a real highlight of the evening. Meanwhile, her chemistry with Jac Yarrow’s instantly likeable and grounded prince Topher is absolutely perfect, with their vocals working in beautiful harmony during ‘Ten Minutes Ago’. Elsewhere, Jodie Jacobs was hysterical as the self-absorbed Charlotte, with her rendition of ‘Stepsister’s Lament’ having a brilliant sense of comic timing, while Mazz Murray as Madame is deliciously sharp and witty and Dianne Pilkington was wonderfully warm and funny as Marie. All of the cast performed to high quality both in terms of characterisations and vocally.
Overall, this is a version of Cinderella that deserves to be seen in a full scale production in the UK. Completely magical, romantic and leaves you with a feeling of hope in your heart – let’s hope we get a chance to hear this wonderful score again soon.
By Emma Clarendon