Did critics have a ball at Lloyd Webber's Cinderella?
In two words, pretty much
Sarah Crompton, WhatsOnStage
"The book is by Emerald Fennell, of Killing Eve and Promising Young Woman fame, and as you might expect she turns everything on its head. Cinderella is the only Goth in Belleville, a town which prides itself on being the most beautiful in the world. According to David Zippel's outrageous and witty lyrics, sung by a chorus of milkmaids and half-naked bakers, there's 'not one dimple in sight/not an ounce of cellulite'."
"She's been loved from childhood by soppy Prince Sebastian, who has been forced to step up as heir to the throne because his older brother Prince Charming has gone AWOL. The plot gets sillier from that point on, but it doesn't really matter because it's just an excuse to have a romp around. What does matter is that Carrie Hope Fletcher is perfectly cast as Cinderella."
"The former star of Heathers has just the right amount of self-assertive bolshiness and sweetness to make her entirely endearing. She also sings like a dream. Her Sebastian is played by Ivano Turco, straight out of drama school, with a hesitant smile and a gentle presence. Together these star crossed lovers give heart to a show that could have seemed cynical."
Chris Weigand, The Guardian
"Designer Gabriela Tylesova literally upends the fairytale town in a rococo frame around the stage and a neat revolve takes us into the heart of a waltz, elegantly lit by Bruno Poet and choreographed by Joann M Hunter. Tylesova and Hunter outdo themselves with the irresistible number "Man's Man", whose thrusting, leather-clad chorus seems to have escaped from Magic Mike Live's West End residency.
"It adds up to not so much a ball as a blast: terrifically OTT and silly but warm and inclusive, with relatable, down-to-earth heroes and pertinent points about our quest for perfection and our expectations of each other and ourselves."
Marianka Swain, The Telegraph
"It's the villains who have the most fun here – and, refreshingly, the show is ruled by older women. Victoria Hamilton-Barritt is a commanding Cruella of a Stepmother and Rebecca Trehearn's Queen a regal diva. When they exchange teeth-gritted threats over tea in the delicious duet "I Know You", it's like Dynasty meets The Crown.
"Overall, Lloyd Webber's score is catchy enough – the stirring "Bad Cinderella" and yearning "Only You, Lonely You" are the take-home earworms – but has too many reprises, ballooning the run time and crowding out supporting characters like Gloria Onitiri's sinister Godmother."
Nick Curtis, Evening Standard
"Fletcher rightly gets the best tunes, from the anthemic "Bad Cinderella" to the plangent "I Know I Have a Heart". But Lloyd Webber delights in riffling through musical genres. Muscular courtiers work out to the martial thump of "Man's Man"."
Laurence Connor's production mixes panto-style archness with professional West End glitz and springs its big surprise in Act Two. At the ball, the stage and several rows of the stalls audience start to revolve, thanks to Lloyd Webber's lockdown refurbishment of this theatre. It's a magical moment. There's another delightful surprise later that's crucial to the plot and that has frankly been a long time coming in a major West End musical.
Clive Davis, The Times
"We all know Lloyd Webber can do portentous. This, however, is a show with a mischievous grin on its face, throwing in playful rock vamps and double-entendres, and, in its imaginative use of the stage revolve, reminding us of the unrivalled potency of live theatre."
"Fennell deserves credit for pushing an over-familiar narrative into bold new territory. There is an unmistakable feminist theme, yet it is delivered with an unfailingly light touch. One word of warning: the raunchy jokes mean that this is not your typical family show."
Isobel Lewis, The Independent
"So was Cinderella worth the wait? Well, yes and no. If this is your first show back in a packed-out theatre, you couldn't ask for a more visually impressive production. Gabriela Tyleslova's costumes are an enthralling mix of old and new, and there's a moment of staging that made me gasp aloud. The production is driven forward by high-camp visuals, incredible comic talent and an electric ensemble cast. But look below the surface – as is Cinderella's whole message – and you'll find something more muddled, a show that doesn't quite know what it's saying or have the consistent material to support its vision."
"While Fletcher's voice has never sounded stronger, the material makes it hard to want to stay in her world. When she's with Sebastian, the pair have spells of great chemistry, but actual funny dialogue is undercut by random lines that sound like an AI writing how it thinks young people talk."
Tim Bano, The Stage
"The feminism of this retelling is as skin-deep as the inhabitants of Belleville. The show's message about wearing what you want as long as you love someone is pleasant enough, though the ogling of muscled male torsos by the ensemble and audience alike feels a bit 1990s girl power – you might think you'd ended up at Magic Mike by mistake – even if it's all done lightly and jokily."
"Under director Laurence Connor, everything could afford to be half a beat quicker. Torpor threatens to slip into every pause and vamp, and Cinderella's transformation feels underwhelming.
"Despite having written lyrics to one of the greatest musicals of all time, City of Angels, David Zippel's efforts here have shortcomings. Blandly rhyming couplets land with a clunk: 'Bad Cinderella, mad Cinderella, sad Cinderella.'"
Matt Wolf, New York Times
"Supporting roles are played to comic perfection by Rebecca Trehearn and Victoria Hamilton-Barritt: A florid Hamilton-Barritt, in particular, vamps across Gabriela Tylesova's elegantly shifting sets like an Edward Gorey figure who has had too much to drink. Trehearn, for her part, raises haughtiness to a high art: 'I can't lose my head,' she announces. 'Where would all my hats go?'"
"I doubt Cinderella itself will ever be a show of legend, but its fairy-tale rewrite feels like a happy corrective to grim times: Cinderella arrives at the ball, by which point the audience has had one, as well."