With its reality TV star prince and TOWIE(dinburgh)-style ugly sisters, there is no doubt that Johnny McKnight’s take on the classic fairytale is a thoroughly modern Cinders. However, Mark Thomson’s production ensures there is enough humour and charm – plus a little bit of magic – to ensure this Cinderella is a treat for young and old alike.
Set in modern-day France, Cinderella (Julie Heatherill) lives alone with her father (Grant O’Rourke) following the death of her mother (Gail Watson). Their bittersweet happiness is threatened when malevolent maneater Monique (Jayne McKenna) arrives with her daughters Colette (Nicola Roy) and Camille (Jo Freer). Soon, Papa is under Monique’s spell, and Cinders’ chances of co-starring live on air at the Prince’s ball look slim to say the least…
As is traditional at the Lyceum, Cinderella is less a pantomime and more a theatrical show for young people. The cast are hugely engaging in their roles: from the sincerity and charm of Heatherill to the unsheathed (and slightly scary) cruelty of McKenna. O’Rourke proves his versatility yet again, putting in finely-tuned comic performances as Papa and as the Prince’s manservant Bumble. And mostly silent Spencer Charles Noll is engagingly expressive as the mistreated Boy, as he strives to keep Cinderella out of harm’s way.
Much of the comedy comes from Roy & Freer’s terrible twosome, with the pair obviously revelling in their over-the-top roles (and costumes). Martin McCormick is pitch perfect as the narcissistic Prince Pierre, oozing fake-tan charm and self-obsessed confidence. Ken Harrison’s set is simple yet clever, and original musical numbers by Alan Penman pepper proceedings: these are commendably memorable (thanks to some fine vocal performances by Heatherill and Watson in particular), giving the production a Disneyesque feel whilst avoiding over-sentimentality.
Indeed, the more recent output of Uncle Walt is a good reference point for this production. Self-aware and unapologetically modern, but with a heart of gold which is hard to resist, Cinderella is a magical night out which will appeal to all ages, whether they have to be home before midnight or not.
Cinderella runs at The Lyceum until 29 December. Times vary – more details are on the Lyceum website.