The actress chatted to Emma Clarendon about starring in CinderELLA A New Musical at the Nuffield Southampton Theatres.

(c)Marc Brenner.

Hi Lydia, could you tell me more about how CinderELLA is slightly different from other takes on the fairytale? CinderELLA is a show that subverts the classic fairytale structure and content and allows the
audience to be drawn into a moving, genuine and relatable story about two women. The play follows Cinders and Ella as they navigate their way through a difficult period in their lives, learning how to ultimately move on from the past. What’s so beautiful about this show is the friendship
between the two women and how they consciously and subconsciously become an intrinsic part in each others journeys to becoming happy again. The show is about learning how to be okay with who
you are. I’m not sure many fairytales manage to hone the message that women can become themselves without falling in love with a Prince!

Could you tell me more about your characters Cinders? Cinders is a young woman recovering from the loss of her Dad. She constantly feels misunderstood and holds a lot of melancholy which doesn’t allow her to fully move on. She is trying not to let her trauma define her but this plays out in her behaviour being seemingly aloof and isolated. However,
her strength, resilience and wicked sense of humour shines throughout the play as she tries to navigate her way through the societal pressures of being a young female in this day and age. Ultimately, her story follows her as she learns how to deal with the world by slowly finding an open heart.

For those who are coming along, what can they expect from CinderELLA? I think audiences will be surprised with the level of vulnerability and warmth that emulates from the show. It’s a piece that really speaks to the heart and I think each person who comes along will be
able to somehow relate to the characters they see before them. The words and music are so beautiful and transcendental and really allow the audience to feel moved and more importantly, seen. I think when you watch a piece of theatre and you feel as if part of your story is on the stage in front of you, the piece never really leaves you. Aside from all of this, it’s also very funny.

How has it been working on the production so far? It’s been an intense process as the show has the actor musician element at its core, so there are
many levels to get to grips with. The cast are absolutely brilliant and it’s an absolute joy to get to work with such talented and caring people. The creative team are working extremely hard to make sure we create something we are all proud of. It’s so exciting for everyone in the room to watch the story unfold day by day and I have no doubt we are going to produce something beautiful. It’s also such a privilege to be able to play the role of Cinders – she is teaching me a lot.

What do you think it is about this story that appeals to audiences so much? The heart of the story is about being okay with who you are. Not a pressure to be happy with who you are but a settled feeling of being content – which for some people is a very strenuous and long journey. I think watching Cinders and Ella go on this journey is extremely cathartic and relatable. Seeing two women go through this without a man by their side is also rewarding and quite rare; in the original Cinderella the only escape for her is to fall in love with the prince. In our story, Cinders uses writing, words, music, reflection and her friendship with Ella as a means of healing. For an audience, to watch the healing process is at points difficult but in the end leaves you feeling as if you have been with the characters every step of the way. Hopefully nurturing the idea that we are all
perfect just the way we are.

By Emma Clarendon

CinderELLA A New Musical will play at the Nuffield Southampton Theatres from the 23rd November until the 5th January 2020.