Review: UGLY! A CINDERELLA STORY, Lanternhouse Theatre

Ugly! A Cinderella Story runs until 30 December

By: Dec. 09, 2023
Review: UGLY! A CINDERELLA STORY, Lanternhouse Theatre

Review: UGLY! A CINDERELLA STORY, Lanternhouse Theatre

This year's Christmas show at Cumbernauld's Lanternhouse Theatre is Ugly! A Cinderella Story, written by Gary McNair, directed by Jo Rush and composed by Brian James O'Sullivan.

This show puts a spin on the tale of Cinderella, telling it from her stepsister Chantelle's point of view. Chantelle (Lauren Ellis Steele) is aware that to her face you might call her Cinderella's stepsister, but what do you call her behind her back? Cinderella gets the Wicked treatment as we delve into the series of events that left Chantelle so misunderstood and the impact it has on her to always be referred to as 'ugly'.

Jo Freer is the true villain in this story taking on the character of Maw, a woman who despises Cinderella (Eva Beattie). Laurence Boothman plays the fairy godmother who is keen to find out Chantelle's true wish, not buying that her only goal is to sabotage her stepsister.

The issue with Ugly! A Cinderella Story is the demographic it is aimed at and its deviation from the traditional pantomime format. The script is genuinely really good but just doesn't hold the attention of the young audience. Pop culture references aside from Strictly go over their heads and there is simply not enough audience engagement. In Act Two there is a little more to involve them but by this point, it's too late. 

There's a lot to like about this production and it's a joy to see Lauren Ellis Steele in the starring role she deserves. A brilliant running joke is that her and her identical twin can't both be in the same scene due to budget restrictions. 

The adults definitely seemed to have a good time, there's a good message behind the show but unfortunately, it goes over the heads of the little ones. The highlight for many was a scene with some epic farting. For the first time in ten years of reviewing I'm having to write "needs more fart jokes". The songs are great and the cast are wonderful but it's just too ballad-heavy for the kids who are clearly bored by the two-hour (with interval) run time.

Photo credit: Sally Jubb