Review: Rodgers &Hammerstein's Updated 'Cinderella' is the "Lovely Night" Out You Deserve

Damon Jang

  • OnStage British Columbia Critic

The Broadway Across Canada bus and truck non-union tour rolls into Vancouver and its just the night out you need.

With music and lyrics by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II who also wrote the original book, Cinderella was originally a made for TV movie in 1957 starring Julie Andrews, it was remade again in the 1990's with Leslie Anne warren and then again in the 90's Starring Brandi, produced by  by ABC Family and Disney before its Broadway debut in 2013. It should be noted that regional and professional non Broadway productionsbased on these versions have been running prior to 2013.

Partly based on the book by Hammerstein, Douglas Carter Bean writes an updated book introducing several new characters, including a revolutionary, a sympathetic stepsister and a re-orchestrated score that includes many rare R & H tunes cut from other shows.

After its run on Broadway a US national tour followed and subsequent have been ongoing since 2016.

This production, brought to you by Work Light Productions, is a very good representation of the original Broadway production, just a little tighter. Dialogue was shortened, there was reduced orchestrations and some numbers were cut all together, making this version a tight 2 hours and 20 minutes with intermission. A far cry from its original run at over 3 hours. Tour director Gina Rattan keeps the pace brisk and tight which works for the most part but at times has characters rushing through and not allowing time for them to land.  She keeps all the magical production elements and humour though of the original direction by Mark Brokaw and puts a unique touch on it. Much is the same for Lee Wilkins interpretation of Josh Rhodes Choreography. Slick and grand but a little scaled down for tour purposes.  The only down side was the reduced overture which is a shame not to listen to that wonderful score in its full glory. it should be said that the scenic design, Tony Award winning costumes and lighting design is worth the ticket price alone.

Tatyana Lubov (Ella) sings with a crystal clear one and has all the sweetness and smarts that little girls can really up too. Prince Topher (Hayden Stanes) captures the spirit of youth in power that's somewhat lost and needs the right guidance from atrue friend.  skilfully portrayed is Sarah Primer as Madame the less than wicked and more self serving and jaded stepmother along with stepdaughters Charlotte (Joanna Johnson) and Gabrielle (Mimi Robinson) who will soon reveal she never loved the prince or even liked him, but whose heart belongs to another. The trio provide sharp comedic timing as well as a layer of humanity that's often overlooked in previous incarnations. The story shifts from the original in that we are introduced to Jean Michel (Chris Woods) whose optimism and spirit for political change in the kingdom only falters a little but again is saved by the advice, kindness and compassion of dear Ella.

The story gets more complicated and many layers add a much needed facelift to its 1957 predecessor but I won't get into the details. It's something you have to see for yourself.

This is the show you can take anyone too and they will have a great time, a truly magical lovely night. Its especially important to bring our young ladies and men to this as it carries an important message about finding yourself, and the empowerment of women. And that it only takes a touch of magic to get to the ball, but the real power is what is inside of you. As the fairy godmother (Leslie Jackson) so eloquently puts it " the name of every girl who wanted to change the world she lives in...go with the promise of possibility!"

Rodgers & Hammerstein's CINDERELLA                                                                                           Runs at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in downtown Vancouver                                                       Till Sunday April 16th