Five weeks after the show’s aborted July 14 premiere, and with numerous other dates offered and then dropped along the way, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical at last opened on the 18th August.
I’ve let on before that I’m not a natural ALW fan but I am very much a Carrie Hope Fletcher (Cinderella) and an Emerald Fennell (scriptwriter) so I was keen to see how I found this production.
The difference between Fennell’s writing and Webber’s music is clear, and in places, I found this doesn’t always marry wonderfully. However the gap is bridged by David Zippel’s outrageous lyrics. Both the dialogue and the music are just as powerful and ingenious as each other.
Fennell’s fresh wit and cutting sass brought the tale we know and love right up to the 21st century. Her moody and goth-like Cinderella is perfectly balanced by Fletcher to make her endearing and hilarious. With her heart already with her childhood friend Sebastian, who is now off performing royal duties in absence of his AWOL brother, things aren’t about to go smoothly for the pair.
Carrie Hope Fletcher filled the Gillian Lynne Theatre with her powerful vocals, particularly in the number “I Know I Have A Heart” which for me was a show-stealer.
For those of you that know about the stage transformation at the beginning of the second act, you’ll know how magical it is and for those who aren’t aware, buy seats in row i and you won’t regret it.
It was the combination of all these elements which brought me to tears at how powerfully immersive and all-encompassing theatre can be.
“I Know I Have A Heart” wasn’t the only song I left the theatre singing, as numbers such as Bad Cinderella and Far Too Late were also memorable and beautifully delivered.
Understudy Prince Sebastian Michael Hamway brought massive cheers and applause for his heartfelt Only You, Lonely You and the comedic duet of “I Know You” between The Queen, Rebecca Trehearn, and The Stepmother, Victoria Hamilton-Barritt deserves an honourable mention also.
The story doesn’t always flow and I had a few questions about the new Fairy Godmother who comes in the form of a plastic surgeon, but nevertheless, this production is magical escapism at its finest. Fletcher, Fennell and Webber have sculpted a new kind of female empowered princess and along with some other progressive plot points created the latest ‘must see’ show in the West End.