Reviewed by Nikki Cotter
Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Almost impossibly this is the first time Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella has been performed in Europe as a fully staged show and my goodness was it worth the wait!
Hope Mill Theatre is transformed into an enchanting fairy tale Kingdom as Prince Topher (Jacob Fowler) is instructed to find a wife and thankfully after multiple, magical twists and turns Ella (Grace Mouat) fits the bill….the shoe I mean!
Following a melodic scene setting prologue the show opens with “Me, Who Am I?” and immediately you know you’re in for a fun-filled time as Prince Topher and his companions offer the first laugh out loud moments of many in this creatively crafted piece.
With an updated book from Douglas Carter Beane this Cinderella pitches both Ella (Grace Mouat) and Topher (Jacob Fowler) as wholesome dreamers, who don’t want much from life other than kindness and fairness for all (more of this please any listening Monarchs/Governments).
Their path to true love it littered with heart-warming encounters and hilarious happenings as the Prince pulls out all the stops to find his mysterious one true love amidst a backdrop of political unrest and the small challenge of Ella disappearing at midnight.
Grace Mouat is sublime as Ella, her warmth and likeability hook you in from the start while her voice is sheer perfection. She truly shines in this leading role. Jacob Fowler is equally superb as Prince Topher; he pitches the comedy of the character just right ensuring every single laugh hits, while his vocals are incredible.
Annie Aitken makes for a marvellously menacing Madame with a glorious hint of the Moira Rose about her; her daughters Charlotte and Gabrielle played by Katie Ramshaw and Olivia-Faith Kamau are fantastic with Stepsister’s Lament being a hilariously memorable moment. The sub-plot of Gabrielle’s secret yearning for revolutionary Jean-Michel (Adam Filipe) is a joy while Charlotte’s horror at her step-sister Ella’s success with the Prince is hysterical.
Special mention must also go to Julie Yammanee who is magnificent as Marie/Fairy Godmother, Lee Ormsby who revels in his role as the beastly Sebastian and Matthew McDonald who as Lord Pinkleton stuns with his powerful voice.
The whole show is bursting with captivating moments from William Whelton’s stunning choreography to George Reeve’s incredible projections, every element is top class. The talent on stage rivals any West End show with some of the finest voices in theatre. Each and every lead is outstanding while the incredible ensemble take this production to the next level. Their dance sequence during The Prince Is Giving a Ball is jaw-dropping and left me beaming from ear to ear; just one of the many scenes you’d love to watch over again and again.
This uplifting production takes a story we all know inside out and dusts it with more than a sprinkling of magic, a blast of camp and a covering of creativity. Director Joseph Houston, Co-Director/Choreographer William Whelton and the whole team have created something truly special here. An enchanting piece of family-friendly theatre that will be adored by young and old alike.
Cinderella with its soaring score, witty script and wonderful message of kindness will warm the coldest of Wicked Stepmother’s hearts, perfection!
Cinderella is on at Hope Mill Theatre until Sunday 11th December tickets available here.