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Cinderella (Tabard)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Bold, slick and bright, this excellent production of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella has verve, spirit and panache.

What this fringe venue's in-house musical lacks in budget for costumes is amply made up for with superb casting, a top sound rig and imagination by the pumpkin-load.

Backed by a cracking live band, there are strong vocal performances all round, but special mention goes to Helen Colby, versatile as Cinderella's cranky stepmother coaching her unfortunately named daughters to capture the Prince's heart, also doubling up as the heartwarming, wry cockney Fairy Godmother.

Cinderella's stepsisters themselves - the lisping, scratching, poetry-spouting Grace (Lydia Jenkins) and empty-headed Joy (Kate Scott) - make the funniest onstage double act I've seen in ages.

Kirsty Mann's earnest Cinderella is charming and when she meets nice Prince Christopher (Vlach Ashton) at the ball they harmonise well and share a simple, touching chemistry.

There are also good comic turns from the Prince's mother (Sarah Dearlove), father (Brendan Matthews) and manservant (Josh Carter).

Director Alex Young crafts moments of real magic - the pumpkin carriage, the mice into horses, the dress! - that make this a Cinderella show itself - quality clad in (not quite) rags. Here's to hoping it gets the packed out audience it richly deserves.

- Vicky Ellis


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