17/11/17 Soho Cinders by Stiles and Drew
Directed by Justin Clarke
Musical Director Ian Myers
I was delighted to be invited to review Soho Cinders by Springers as this was a totally new musical for me and it’s always good to see a show with fresh eyes. A clever concept on the story of Cinderella this is a moving story narrated by the cast with some beautiful songs written by Stiles and Drew.
The action is set in Old Compton Street and my first wow was the set which was very thoughtfully constructed, simple and effective on the intimate stage of The Cramphorn Theatre, Chelmsford. Brick walls with the Underground sign, street name and Strip bar stage left and the Sit and Spin launderette trucked on and off stage centre. Simple props of rug and chairs denoted the other scenes. Mobile phones used constantly to show the times we now live in and Robbie’s lost phone left instead of a glass slipper was a cleverly written touch. The band, were just visible at the top of the flats and were excellently led by musical director Ian Myers.
Costumes were also excellent with wonderful detail, like the lit dress of Dana and her glass slipper hat, and the lit reflective jacket for Sidesaddle. Great dresses all round for all the ladies especially the ugly sisters, Congrats to Jean Chapman and Leonie Rose as wardrobe mistresses, who must have had a wonderful time coming up with these creations..
Hard up Robbie who runs the launderette with Velcro, has become romantically involved with a London Mayoral candidate, James Prince and is also involved with an older man, Lord Bellingham. Bullied by his ugly stepsisters, Clodagh and Dana, who throw him out of his flat with only his mum’s ashes and then try to force him out the launderette.
Characters were nicely portrayed by both the younger and more experienced actors. Robbie (Kieran Young) showed appealing charm and emotion in the role. At the beginning there were a few tuning issues in his first song, but I imagine nerves came into play, as by the end of act one he was in his stride. I loved his solo ‘They don’t make glass slippers’ and his duet with James Prince (Ben Miller)’ Gypsies of the Ether’.
Ben’s portrayal of Prince was assured and his singing was truly beautiful. What a lovely voice. His role was that of a bisexual ex swimmer who is running to become London’s new lord mayor and engaged to Marilyn (Amy Serin) trying to keep his secret relationship from the press. Ben was totally convincing in the role as was Amy who sang her solo “Spin” wonderfully. She provided yet another totally believable performance and her characterisation in the role of the lawyer was spot on
Mae Pettigrew as Velcro gave us a dippy, fun loving girl who was looking for love. As with the Buttons in Cinderella, it looked like she would never get someone to love. She was consistent and had good stage presence. Her duet with Amy ‘Let him go’ was a highlight.
Jason Norton as Lord Bellingham and Gareth Locke as William George played the villains of the piece and both gave strong credible performances although sometimes I could not hear all that was said in Gareth’s dialogue. Maybe slowing it down a little might have helped us to hear clearly.
Catherine Gregory as Sidesaddle with her fab lit rickshaw had a superb clear singing voice with a good persona and made the most of her Fairy Godmother role. It was nice to see new member Rachel Willcox as the put upon assistant Sasha but called T, by the chauvinistic William on stage. She obviously enjoyed her role as she was always smiling and it looked like she was having fun.
The highlight for me was Sophie Lines and Becky Watts as Clodagh and Dana. Superb performances by both of them, making this crude funny show really work. Their performances were wonderfully over the top and gave them leave to create two wonderful monsters. What incredible roles to play and a gift to any actress. Well done both of you.
The ensemble worked very hard and the choreography was well thought out. I particularly like the Slo Mo movement in Gypsies of the Ether and the circling paparazzi.
Sound levels were sometimes not great, there seemed to be problems with the radio mics. I felt sorry for Helen Quigley when it was her turn to narrate as the mic was late being activated, so we didn’t hear her early dialogue. Slightly disappointing that these issues were apparent as the sound was operated by a professional crew.
Lighting was sometimes an issue where certain actors either didn’t find their light or were just not lit well. At one stage when the ugly sisters were on, one was not lit at all, while singing from the bar, stage left. As lighting was run by a professional crew, there should not have been these problems.
That being said I loved this show as for me it was full of fun with excellent music from the band and singing from the cast. It’s not a show that is produced that often so I’m glad that Springers decided to tackle it. It obviously wowed the Friday night audience. Congratulations to everyone on your hard work and commitment. A big thank you, to Wilma Smart who looked after us as front of house It was lovely to hear about Springers and there future shows which I look forward to seeing,
Noda rep District 8