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  • Theatre, Musicals
  • Sydney Lyric Theatre, Darling Harbour
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. Shubshri Kandiah as Ella in CINDERELLA
    Photograph: Supplied/Jeff Busby
  2. Ainsley Melham, Shubshri Kandiah in CINDERELLA
    Photograph: Supplied/Jeff Busby
  3. Bianca Bruce (Charlotte) and ensemble in CINDERELLA
    Photograph: Supplied/Jeff Busby
  4. All dressed in pink, the stepmother and stepsisters recline on a table, cinderella lays on her stepmothers lap
    Photograph: Jeff Busby
  5. Cinderella and the fairy godmother look out from the stage, a large moon behind them
    Photograph: Jeff Busby
  6. Daniel Belle and ensemble cast of CINDERELLA
    Photograph: Supplied/Jeff Busby
  7. Ainsley Melham, Shubshri Kandiah in CINDERELLA
    Photograph: Supplied/Jeff Busby

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

Douglas Carter Beane’s new book is a spectacular take on this classic story with all the glitter, glamour – and of course, glass – of any great fairytale

Rodger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella has finally made its debut in Sydney, and it is an irresistible invitation for your inner child to indulge for a few hours into the wonder and magic of musical theatre. In times where adapted movies and theatre performances can feel overdone, Douglas Carter Beane’s take on this classic princess tale is a homage to great storytelling. Audiences will be immersed in a family-friendly and extremely witty performance with the power to win over any watching sceptic or intellectual.

Be prepared to be enchanted as the Sydney Lyric Theatre transforms into a medieval kingdom through the work of scenic designer Anna Louizos. You cannot help but suspend your disbelief as Louizos’ backdrop transitions from Cinderella’s house, to Prince Topher’s castle and to the town centre (to name a few settings) in a seamless transition which provides a heightened experience of theatre. It is hard to be able to keep an audience consistently in awe, but the beautiful lighting design of Kenneth Posner manipulates the cool hues of purple, blues and whites throughout the performance, which upholds a sense of marvel and magic throughout the production.  

The story sticks to the bones of the traditional Cinderella fairy-tale, where “Ella”(Shubshri Kandiah) lives with her venomous stepmother Madame (Tine Bursill), and stepsisters Charlotte and Gabrielle (Bianca Bruce and Matilda Moran). Upon the ethically ambiguous advice of adviser Sebastian (Nicholas Hammond), Prince Topher (Ainsley Melham) hosts a royal ball. With the help of her eccentric fairy godmother (Silvie Paladino), Ella is able to sneak into the ball and meet the Prince against the wishes of Madame. Whilst beauty and riches are the hallmarks of Cinderella and her Prince, Beane’s version provides a little more to the relationship between the characters. A small but extremely meaningful twist revolutionises this fairytale, and makes it increasingly palatable for contemporary audiences, yet still aptly stays true to the original plot for traditionalist fans. You can never make everyone happy, but this production comes pretty close.

You can never make everyone happy, but this production comes pretty close

Beane utilises the 140-minute run time to also flesh out more dimensional characters. The production weaves in the comical quarter-life-crisis of the Prince; the unexpected love life of Madame; and through a wonderfully performed musical number, the plight and struggle of the curvaceous. Beane’s introduction of new character Jean-Michel (Josh Gardiner) is an effortless integration. Jean-Michel becomes the well-intentioned voice of dissent, which protects the production from risking becoming too saccharine. Gardiner has a mastery over his comedic timing which makes Jean-Michel’s proletariat ways likeable without detracting from the light-heartedness of the performance. Under director Mark Brokow, the intersection between Beane’s work with the brilliance of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical numbers never loses sight of the original story. 

The chemistry between cast members is immaculate, with each actor effortlessly engaging with both the other performers and the audience. It is no wonder that Kandiah was selected for the role, having previously played Princess Jasmine in Aladdin, she fits into Cinderella like a glass slipper. Kandiah’s grace and animation never falters, giving a memorable performance which has the audience rooting for her. Her chemistry in particular with co-stars Melham and Bursill is delectable. With Melham having played Aladdin alongside Kandiah, their history together is evident in their ability to complement each other’s performances. A special mention must be made for Bursill, whose soft cruelty as Madame in the performance darkens the archetypal wicked stepmother's vindictiveness and leaves the audience, much like Jean-Michel, absolutely petrified at every one of her entrances.

The astounding beauty and creativity of William Ivey Long’s costuming leaves no doubt as to his well-deserved Tony for this production. The colourful dresses and robes have a fitting grandeur, and Long’s masterful creation of dresses which change in the plain sight leave the audience in awe and wonderment. 

The golden age of musical theatre is having its revival, and it is marked with this production of Cinderella. Enchanting and magical, it is an exciting performance which will stay with you and leave you grinning long after the curtains draw close. 

Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella plays at the Sydney Lyric Theatre until January 22, 2023.

Written by
Jasmine Joyan


Sydney Lyric Theatre
The Star
Pirrama Rd

Dates and times

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