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Review: RODGERS + HAMMERSTEIN'S CINDERELLA at Regent Theatre

A perfect musical for the family this winter, with Cinderella’s costume transformations being truly magical! 4 STARS

Review: RODGERS + HAMMERSTEIN'S CINDERELLA at Regent Theatre
Silvie Paladino and Shubshri Kandiah
Photo by Jeff BusbyCaption

Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella dazzles Melbourne with fantastic costumes and sublime performances by Silvie Paladino, as the fairy godmother Marie, and Shubshri Kandiah in the title role of Ella. The best element of this production however is the classic Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II showtunes, which will transport you back to the 'golden age' of musical theatre.

The classic fairy-tale of Cinderella needs no introduction, in part thanks to Disney's 1950 animated film musical. Yet of course the story dates back much further than this, to Cendrillon, which was published in France by Charles Perrault in 1697. Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella was written in 1957 as a television musical for CBS, which starred Julie Andrews. This contrasted the other iconic Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals of Carousel, Oklahoma!, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music, all of which premiered on Broadway. However, such was the success of Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella, two other television adaptions were made, the second of which in 1997 starred Whitney Houston, Whoppi Goldberg, Bernadette Peters and Brandy.

Review: RODGERS + HAMMERSTEIN'S CINDERELLA at Regent Theatre
Ainsley Melham, Shubshri Kandiah and ensemble
Photo by Jeff Busby

It was not however until 2013 that Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella found itself on a Broadway stage, with the assistance of a new book by Douglas Carter Beane, music adaption and arrangements by David Chase, and orchestrations by Danny Troob. While Troob's orchestrations and Chase's arrangements and music adaption supplement Rodger's score and Hammerstein's lyrics nicely, the incorporation of Beane's new book, which was heavily influenced by Hammerstein's original, does leave elements of the story feeling lost in translation between a classic traditional musical and a more modern one. Despite this, the message that the 'damsel' can save the 'prince' is a welcome addition, as are the supporting character plot developments.

Review: RODGERS + HAMMERSTEIN'S CINDERELLA at Regent Theatre
Shubshri Kandiah
Photo by Jeff Busby

The choreography by Josh Rhodes is stellar and a true highlight of this production, however at time I was left feeling the execution of it could have done with a little more polishing. But perhaps I am being overly critical, as in general the ensemble was great. Mark Brokaw's direction is solid and Anna Louizos's set design was enchanting and strongly paid tribute to the pantomime elements of this production. William Ivey Long's Tony award winning costume design is spectacular and a real draw card, with stunning ballgowns that are elaborately decadent.

Review: RODGERS + HAMMERSTEIN'S CINDERELLA at Regent Theatre
Ainsley Melham and Todd McKenney
Photo by Jeff Busby

The cast of Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella was a delight to watch. Shubshri Kandiah as Ella was perfectly cast in this ingenue role, and her vocals were spellbinding. Ainsley Melham as Prince Topher brought out the comedy of his character and had a lovely lower register. Tina Bursill was strong as Madame, as was Todd McKenney as Sebastian, Prince Topher's overly ambitious advisor. Daniel Belle showcased his impressive operatic albitites as Lord Pinkleton and Biance Bruce was hilarious as stepsister Charlotte. The standout performance of the evening however was Silvie Paladino as Marie. Let's face it, who would not want Silvie Paladino as their fairygod mother! Her vocal performance, complimented by this production's theatrics, resulted in the musical numbers of "Impossible" and "There's Music in You" being truly magical.

Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella is playing at Melbourne's Regent Theatre through to July. Visit cinderellamusical.com.au for more information and to buy tickets.

Review: RODGERS + HAMMERSTEIN'S CINDERELLA at Regent Theatre
Shubshri Kandiah and Ainsley Melham
Photo by Jeff Busby


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