Cinderella at The Rose Theatre, Kingston ~ reviewed by Little Surrey's Emma Ward
PUBLISHED: 12:52 11 December 2012 | UPDATED: 22:29 20 February 2013
Cinderella is a popular Christmas production choice for theatres. For who can resist the 'rags to riches' tale of a sweet, downtrodden girl transformed into a princess by her very own magical Fairy Godmother?
Photos: Manuel Harlan
Cinderella is a popular Christmas production choice for theatres. For who can resist the rags to riches tale of a sweet, downtrodden girl transformed into a princess by her very own magical Fairy Godmother?
Yet this Cinderella story, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh and written by Charles Way offers an intriguing twist to the tale. While the action unfolds in uber-traditional 18th-century Germany, our heroine, Cinderella, is far from the traditionally portrayed, compliant ingnue.
Instead, Faye Castelow gives us a rather more realistic performance of a girl grieving for her late mother and trying unsuccessfully to deal with the bewildering changes in her life through sulking, playing tricks and, when feeling trapped, biting her way out of trouble.
The other characters too are less than predictable. The Fairy Godmother, played charismatically by Katy Secombe, combines magic with puppetry as she appears as a fluttering bird, while Jack Monaghans Prince Sebastian shows that he is more than a handsome face as he disguises himself as a cheeky kitchen boy to meet Cinderella in her mothers garden and gradually win her over. In doing so, he defies his father (Timothy Kightley) a self-pitying King Leopold whose misplaced sense of guilt over his people suffering from a terrible plague has overshadowed his sense of duty as he lingers in bed, refusing to wash.
Cinderellas own family members are at first glance slightly more traditional. Simon Coates is her doting, if thoughtless father whose head is turned by his scheming second wife (Claire Carrie). However, the ugly sisters, so often played as full-on outrageous pantomime dames, are allowed a few redeeming features, with lovely singing from Alyosia (Jenny Bede) and some pretty groovy dancing from Constanze (Laura Prior). A highlight of the show is the sisters hilarious attempts to seduce the Prince in his fathers bedroom, accompanied by lively violin music from Musician, Buffy North.
Yet the addition of an extra character is where this story really diverges from the original. We meet Prince Sebastians best friend, Wolfgang a struggling court composer played with energy and delightfully gentle humour by William Postlethwaite. Wolfgang is put in charge of the music for the Royal Ball and must cope with cramped conditions and mercurial employers. After a little help from the Fairy Godmother, he proves to be the unlikely catalyst that springs the King from his bed, and Prince Sebastian into the arms of his one true love.
While quite different from the usual knock-about pantomime version, Cinderella at The Rose Theatre is a charming, lively and above all, funny show that will put a smile on the face of anyone lucky enough to see it.
- Cinderella: The Midnight Princess runs at The Rose Theatre, Kingston until Sunday January 6