Review: Full of fairy-tale escapism, ‘Cinderella’ sparkles

Review: Full of fairy-tale escapism, ‘Cinderella’ sparkles

Photography by Jeff Busby
words by sidonie bird de la coeur

A surprisingly contemporary take on a classic fairy-tale, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella is full of child-like whimsy and romantic escapism.

Witty, funny and with some social commentary thrown in for good measure, it’s all the beats that you love and expect from Cinderella, with some twists that keep this particular production entertaining.

Originally written for television with Julie Andrews in the leading role, Cinderella made its long-awaited Broadway debut in 2013 with a new book by Douglas Carter Beane and direction by Mark Brokaw.

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Superb orchestrations, beautiful vocals, spectacularly smooth set transitions and jaw-dropping costume changes are the highlight of the musical, with the reveal of the Fairy Godmother being a particular highpoint. As well as the inclusion of a redeemable step-sister, Cinderella provides commentary on the nature of class through the added character of Jean-Michel, a revolutionary concerned with wealth equality.

A welcome addition to this version of Cinderella is added depth to the character of Prince Topher, played by the charming Ainsley Melham. In this version, parallels are drawn between the two leads – the kind-hearted Ella, played beautifully by Shubshri Kandiah, is bullied by her evil stepmother while the prince is pushed around by his scheming and cunning royal advisor. The union of Ella and Prince Topher feels deserved, a meeting of two generous and sympathetic people in a world that values cruelty.

Cinderella herself has more agency in this version of the story – it’s her initiation of the meeting of the Prince and Jean-Michelle that is the catalyst for change in the kingdom. Interestingly, when running away from the banquet at the stroke of midnight, Cinderella takes her own shoe off and makes the active and intentional decision to leave it behind for the prince to take.

I really liked the raccoon and fox turned footman and driver – their transformation from delightful little puppets into men that leap and flip around the stage with impressive acrobatic talent left me smiling.

An engaging and enchanted production unabashedly about the power of kindness and the presence of good in the world, you’ll walk out of Cinderella humming every tune and believing in everyday magic.

Cinderella is showing now until July 22. Catch it at the Regent Theatre, 191 Collins Street, with shows on Wed–Sat 7.30pm, Wed 1pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 1pm & 6pm.
Tickets are from $69 plus booking fee. Grab them by heading here