‘Cinderella’ was splendid.
A timeless story, familiar characters, and a beautiful score: ‘Cinderella’ is a musical for the ages, and Lynch and Patterson’s recent production displays just that. While some of the themes remain firmly in the 20th century, under the direction of Maureen Bowra, they are brought steadfastly into the modern era to create a show sure to delight and entertain.
While lacking in the white mice and sly cat that inhabit the Disney animation, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘Cinderella’ is equally charming. Originally written for television in the 1950s, it had several films and stage revivals, eventually making its way to the Broadway stage in 2013, and now, to the Princess Theatre in Brisbane.
With a 19 piece orchestra on stage and a cast of 24, the Princess Theatre was used to its full potential – and with great ingenuity. Under the light of a full moon dangling from the rafters, the story unfolded in a concert-like style, and with splendour.
Under the direction of Bowra, this production was slick, modern and clever. Scenes were set utilising human-sized pages of a fairy tale book, which were moved around the stage on wheels. Costumes and props, decorated to look like the pages of a book, created a through-line, inviting the audience into this age-old story. The set was everything it needed to be, and nothing more than that, allowing for our story to be told and the talent to shine. Samantha Paterson, as a designer, should be applauded.
Equally ingenious was the creation of a five-part featured ensemble starring Abigail Ellerton, Amy Jarrett, Lachlan Driscoll, Rose Robinson, and Tayla Simpson. From dancing mice cross Greek chorus to assistant stage managers, this ensemble allowed for the impossible to become possible. Where logistics are often the downfall of otherwise excellent shows, this was not the case for this production. The featured ensemble made scene changes a delight to watch, as well as adding comic relief, and excellent dancing. A particularly memorable moment being the appearance of popcorn as they watched the interactions between Cinderella and her prince with comical attention.
Bowra’s direction, along with her choreography, suspended the audience’s imagination, taking us from each corner of the kingdom. The choreography was simple and well-executed, allowing for each character’s story to show through the movement and action.
Costume design by Anita Sweeney was simple and effective. With flowing cursive writing, reflecting the storybook theme, incorporated on each design. The costumes were functional and creative, adding to each character’s profile. A standout moment was the magical transformation of Cinderella’s dress. Within the time it took to blink, Cinderella went from rags to resplendent in a blue ball gown. Similarly, the modern and edgy take on the step-family’s costumes was inspiring.
With Lucas Lynch at the helm of music, there was not a note out of place. The ensemble harmonies were impressive; the solo’s strong and sweet, and the orchestra was perfection.
Taking on such familiar and well-known roles cannot be an easy task, though Lynch and Paterson assembled a cast who rose to the challenge.
Madeleine Ratcliffe in the title role of Cinderella was poised, strong, lovable and a little quirky. With a pure voice that carried to the rafters of the theatre, she was the perfect princess. Her acting ability allowed for depth in character to become apparent. Playing opposite her, Tom Markiewicz, as Prince Christopher was gentle and kind, with a voice to match.
As the stepfamily, Meg Kiddle (Step-mother), Sophie Price (Portia) and Louise Hayes (Joy) were exceptional. They are the characters we love to hate, though this trio could not help but make us laugh. In particular, the dynamic between Price and Hayes was excellent, with their banter inciting frequent laughter, and their facial expressions throughout the Prince’s Ball providing a source of constant entertainment.
With a massive supporting cast, including Georgina Purdie (Fairy Godmother), Nathaniel Currie (The King) and Nicole Wheeler (The Queen), and an extensive ensemble, talent shone from every facet of the performance.
‘Cinderella’ is a story that defies time, and Lynch and Paterson’s modern production brings to the fore all that Brisbane community theatre has to offer. With exceptional talent both on stage, and in the creative and management team, it was a production full of passion and pride – a truly splendid affair.
‘Cinderella’ played at the Princess Theatre, Woolloongabba, until Sunday, 17 November 2019. Information on future productions by Lynch & Paterson can be found via their website.
Disclaimer: Cast / Production Members working on this show also work for Theatre Haus, but rest assured, we always take steps to ensure our reviews maintain their integrity and are free from bias.