Venue: Sydney Lyric Theatre (Sydney NSW), Oct 24, 2022 – Jan 29, 2023
New Book: Douglas Carter Beane
Lyrics and Original Book: Oscar Hammerstein II
Music: Richard Rodgers
Director: Mark Brokaw
Cast: Daniel Belle, Bianca Bruce, Tina Bursill, Josh Gardiner, Shubshri Kandiah, Nicholas Hammond, Ainsley Melham, Matilda Moran, Silvia Paladino
Images by Jeff Busby
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s exquisite songs for Cinderella were originally written for a 1957 television broadcast, and had taken more than half a century, to reach the Broadway stage. This 2013 adaptation with a new book by Douglas Carter Beane, transposes the old tale for the contemporary stage, carefully incorporating updates and modifications, to make Cinderella palatable for twenty-first century sensibilities. The amalgamation of the classic score with a modernised narrative, proves a delightful opportunity to re-acquaint ourselves with the most familiar of stories, only with a lot less misogyny.
Our poor girl Cinderella is no longer incapacitated and desperate. She is now well-read, smart, intuitive, and maybe even a little ambitious. Performed by Shubshri Kandiah, she is also hugely endearing, and incredibly graceful. God forbid, she might even be a little feisty. Aside from this surprisingly refreshing take on the famous character, Kandiah’s singing and dancing are resplendent, effortlessly transporting us to somewhere magical, and wonderfully innocent.
Prince Topher too has become more human. Given charming humour by the dashing Ainsley Melham, who matches in performance ability with Kandiah; the two look to be a pair made in heaven. Their chemistry is the stuff dreams are made of, and we want their union to succeed as much as they themselves do. Also very impressive is Silvie Paladino, who brings incredible skill and a delicious campness to the unforgettable role of Fairy Godmother. Paladino’s presence is so strong, as is her voice, that she makes her enormous dresses seem a natural fit.
The excellent transformation that occurs in this newer Cinderella, is not that the pauper becomes the princess, but that young girls can now see a version of the heroine being valued for all the right things. The aspiration is no longer just to marry well, but to become intelligent, resilient, kind and generous. This should always be the lesson to teach our young, should we decide to keep telling this story for centuries to come.