Rogues & Vagabonds

theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…

Archive Review • CINDERELLA • Lyric Hammersmith • 2003

Vintage Cinderella Christmas Montage Card

Vintage Cinderella Christmas Montage Card

by FirstNightDesign

The story of Cinderella had been told for hundreds of years before Charles Perrault wrote the version we know the best today, and it has gone through many changes from an early Chinese version through Egyptian and Italian versions and the Brothers Grimm to Roald Dahl’s more macabre retelling, so there is nothing unusual in the Lyric having made their own version. It has its roots in the traditional pantomime treatment but is shorn of moonlighting soap opera and sports stars and the line-up from the local dancing school. No writer is credited: it’s been ‘devised by the Company’. That can so often mean a lack of clear direction, but here they have kept it very simple, exploiting their own talents. They share their own obvious enjoyment with the audience who were lapping it up when I saw it. It was a preview and there were still a few rough edges. But slick timing and special effects are not what this production is about and its very lack of sophistication is part of its success. There are some terrible puns and ‘knock, knock’ jokes which all go down a treat.

With set and costumes by Anthony McIlwaine, this production is set in a rundown fairground where Cinderella and her family live in the helter-skelter. The ‘Spanish Amusement Park’ is owned by ‘Prince’ Pedro de Gonzago who goes hand-walking upside down to heaven having bequeathed the Park to his grandson, Pedro Gonzago II (Javier Marzan).

Shereen Patrice, as Cinderella, is only six months out of acting school and so charming she doesn’t need to act — but can and does. She plays well with Bob Goody’s Frank, the fairground repair man and ticket seller (this show’s equivalent to Buttons) who is everybody’s favourite uncle. Her beautiful mother, a tightrope walker, had a fatal fall. Her father, the living cannonball, then married Ludmila Bulochka, a Russian dancer and mother of the Ugly Sisters, before accidentally being fired straight up to the moon. He is can still be seen up there, in orbit, when cloud cover doesn’t intervene.

Di Sherlock’s Ludmila isn’t one of those Russian peasants who move around like Babushka dolls on wheels. Oh no, she essays a lively czardas and even a Dying Swan and if being reminded of Cinderella’s mother gets her in a temper, Sherlock makes her very likeable. Yes, she does exploit her stepdaughter but not that much, and she is so fed up with her ugly daughters, she certainly gains our sympathy. As for Hortense and Diaphanta Bulochka, Antonio Gil Martinez (who also doubles as the first Prince Pedro) and John Ramm are hilarious. Bewigged, berouged and bedecked they are very much men playing women, squabbling and breaking into fisticuffs — beautifully timed so that we know the blows don’t really land and we get a clear license to laugh. There’s no Fairy Godmother: Cinders’ ball gown is courtesy of Madame Zarastro, the figure in a broken penny-in-the-slot fortune-telling machine who needs a kick and a bang as well as a coin to make her work. Geoffrey Carey doubles her with Dandini, the Prince’s sidekick, who keeps reminding him he’s not a real prince and getting the word prince wrong more times than you can imagine.

I bet this is the first time you will have seen Prince Charming booed by the audience; that’s because instead of doing up the fair, he has development plans so that Cinders… but I mustn’t give everything away. However, I will reveal that Prince Pedro sings ‘Blue Christmas’ not ‘White Christmas’ and doesn’t have a very good voice, but then being choked-up probably does take the edge off your vocal chords, and he makes up with a good stab at a tap dance and even manages to bring a genuine tear to your eyes — theatre magic really at work.

I thought that younger children might have some difficulty with Carlos I and Ludmilla’s heavy accents but those I asked told me indignantly they didn’t. One quibble: since it is well established that the ball will actually be at the fairground and that Madame Zorasto has no need of ‘the pumpkin and rats stuff’ to provide the transport, why do we see a distant Cinders riding away on a sleigh? It doesn’t make a good first act curtain and I wouldn’t be surprised it’s been cut by the time you read this.

What did you say, children? Oh, yes — I haven’t mentioned Jeremy Bines as Monkey, long-tailed, fezed and with a banana in his mouth, playing the Hammond Organ. They gave him as big a round as all those up on stage — and they loved them all. There is no chorus, no big transformation scene or spectacular finale, no reference to television shows or politicians and no blue jokes. Instead, there is a real rapport with the audience, a load of laughs and a genuinely touching happy ending.

Howard Loxton © 2003

Originally published on R&V on 04-12-03


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Theatre, Film and TV.

Smart History Blog

Compalling Stories of Russian History

Chris Egon Searle Photography

The Photography Blog

Brave and Reckless

Reclaiming my inner badass at 50

Gretchen Del Rio's Art Blog

Watercolor paintings

Today in History

"Tell me a fact, and I'll learn. Tell me a truth, and I'll believe. But tell me a story, and it will live in my heart forever." - Steve Sabol, NFL Films

The Architect & I

The Nazis assigned him a number but I wanted the world to know his name.

Basic Archaeology

Archaeology News, Interesting Facts and More


Being a web log for the observations of actor, author, cartoonist, comedian, critic, director, humorist, journalist, master of ceremonies, performance artist, playwright, producer, publicist, public speaker, songwriter, and variety booker Trav S.D.

LOIS BRYAN Photography and Digital Art


A Green future for the Isle of Wight


a world travel photo blog by Jackie Hadel


Music means something


Literatura y consejos.


A Backward Look Forward


Freelance Film Critic

Christine Parker Art Blog

Sharing my paintings


The Novel

Susan Brazier Illustrations

Various Illustrations both previous and ongoing.

Wolves in London

Making stuff and pootling in the garden


it's all about the story, possums...

Art Bacchant

drunk on the arts

Professional Pin-Cushion in Makeup & Mittens

Loving yourself & Living with Scleroderma!

London Wlogger

Walking blogger exploring London's hidden gems, sights and history!

Winkos: a straw bale building adventure in Poland

A journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle


Online zeitung

The Elegant Mind

"The only real elegance is in the mind; if you've got that, the rest really comes from it." Diana Vreeland

National Trust Press Office

National Trust news, events and insight


Art, Literature, Poetry, Politics and a little History

Gemma's Journey

Culture Blogger | Theatre Lover | Follow my Journalism journey | BA Journalism Grad. 2016 @SunderlandUni | Views are my own

Robbie's inspiration

Ideas on writing and baking

Tracy Leibmann

Artisan Jewelry | Accessories | Vintage | Digital Products | Handicrafts

Beyond today, tomorrow

Things from the past and present which may some some relevance in our future

Ambiance Déco

Our space has a real effect on our emotions. Simply change your room arrangements to change your mood. Start to observe your surroundings to feel calm, relaxed and Happy.

kirilson photography

the stories behind the pictures, and vice versa

The Handcrafted Company

Bespoke Handcrafted Woodwork & Artwork

21st Century Theater

A collection of fragments more than the sum of its shards

Vicky Painter Illustrations

art & illustration

Curious Paleo

Exploring the world of Paleontology through new scientific articles, photos, and art

Promoting a Peaceful Political Revolution

%d bloggers like this: