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Cinderella review at Oxford Playhouse – ‘high wattage’

The cast of Cinderella at Oxford Playhouse. Photo: Geraint Lewis

Steve Marmion’s colourful, high energy Cinderella has been given a complete refit for 2016.

Though Buttons is a mouse and Dandini a cat, the familiar story remains intact. We get hip hop and R’n’B interspersed with a smattering of oldies. The pace is kept up by the two stepsisters, played by Joseph Alessi and Stephen Ventura, who knock out their terrible gags at machine gun speed – forcing them to be funny.

Feistiness rather than victimhood define Rochelle Rose’s determined, modern Cinderella.  She has a fine voice and physical presence channelling Beyonce during the songs and injects a knowingness in the character.

Matt Ralph works Buttons delightfully. He as an excellent rapport with the children. Lucy McCormick’s Dandini-cat, is convincing,  Max Olesker’s Prince Charming has real presence as a lusty young party animal, and Lorna Gayle’s Fairy Godmother is in-your-face street-smart.

The costume-work from Amanda Hamilton in transforming Cinders’s ragged dress to a ballgown is dazzling and Liz Cooke’s versatile set allows the action to move seamlessly without losing momentum.

The production is packed but tight: Stuart Rogers’ energetic committed dance routines constantly move and reveal, and Ashley Bale’s lighting gives regular variation of colour and focus. Sometimes the percussion overwhelms the singing in the quieter musical passages but otherwise this is an up-to-date seasonal treat.

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Verdict
High wattage pantomine that honours tradition while also remembering it’s 2016
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