A Kiss For Cinderella ★★★

A Kiss For Cinderella sees the NYMT adapting a 1916 J. M. Barrie’s play

We are well used to adaptations of J. M. Barrie’s famous story, with both West End stage productions and Hollywood movies being made on the tale in the last few years alone, but this adaptation is less ambitious and is dulled somewhat by the story being set in 1940s London, during the Blitz. It’s fair to say that anyone would find it challenging to find the magic and light in a production that is portrayed during the darkest moments of the Second World War.

The well-known timeline of Cinderella’s story is also disrupted by distractions brought about by pulling the characters and story about a little too much. It isn’t clear why Cinderella’s character has been renamed Jane, and her role as downtrodden step daughter of the cruel stepmother is muddied with another purpose as the carer of refugee children, whose stories also aren’t focussed on enough for us to really care for them. There is all just a little too much going on and at times the audience could understandably feel a little lost.

All images by KBartelski

Jack Trzcinski’s score is also challenging and complex, with clashing discordant harmonies which the most experienced of professional musical theatre performers would find testing, but this cast of young actors do well in stepping up to the challenge despite a certain lack of continuity in the style of each song. The highlights of the score are certainly The Penny Friend and Happy Endings, both brilliantly delivered by the three lead Lost Children, Flo, Blue and Krista. All three of these young actors are natural performers and confident accomplished singers, but Ruby Chaloner who plays Flo is certainly a rising star. Her skillful awareness of the audience and the direction in which to deliver her lines and vocals take her to the next level above her peers, she is clearly one to watch.

Liam Heap as Mr Times is an incredibly proficient singer with excellent tone and enormous on-stage confidence, and Kit Colville as PC West is perfectly cast as the textbook British Bobby, bringing some welcome moments of humour and light to the production. The supporting cast as a whole including the horrid Step Sisters played by Addison Aston and Odessa Rontogiannis are strong, and the Ensemble of children are talented and well-choregraphed in their big numbers, although sadly are not always directed in a way that they are given the opportunity to take in the applause they deserve. There are some rising stars at all levels in this cast, but the vocal star of the show though is undoubtedly Simi Jolaoso as Jane (Cinderella). She reminded us of a young Beverley Knight, with the most gorgeous tone and effortless quality to her voice. She clearly has a real future in Musical Theatre and with professional training will certainly be treading the boards of the West End in just a few years’ time.  

The production is brilliantly lit and the versatile set is sufficient in helping to visualise the story, and the cast are supported by very proficient sound production. They are also backed by a band of no less than 11 musicians playing 12 different instruments, all-in-all making up a well rounded production of great quality.

The NYMT cast work hard but this new musical is not ready to go to the ball yet – ★★★ (3 stars)

The last of the three shows this summer season is the award winning production Ragtime. The show is a musical portrait of early 20th-century America and tells the story of three families in the pursuit of the American Dream. The show runs from 25-27 August at MCT at Alleyn’s, Dulwich.