When musical theatre collaborators George Stiles, Anthony Drewe and Elliot Davis’ updated gay version of the Cinderella story premiered in 2012, its version of Old Compton Street and its environs already felt bizarrely rose-tinted and time has not been kind.
Drewe and Davis’ cliche-ridden script focuses far more on the far-fetched plot than it does on character development and the tone is all over the place.
Director Will Keith originally revived the piece in 2016 at the Union Theatre but not all shows improve in a bigger space. Adam Haigh’s lively choreography improves things occasionally, particularly in the Act I finale You Shall Go to the Ball. But Justin Williams’ set and Nicole Garbett’s costumes are simple, when a little magic is desperately needed. Even Michaela Stern and Natalie Harman’s outrageous step-sisters seem drained of colour, if not their vulgarity.
There are some sweet, delicately judged performances, notably Tori Hargreaves, as jilted fiancée Marilyn Platt, and Millie O’Connell, as Velcro. These sit awkwardly next to the step-sisters or the boo-hiss-villainy of Ewan Gillies as a conniving campaign manager.
Luke Bayer is pretty ineffectual as Robbie, the Cinderella of the story, though to be fair it’s an impossible role, but at least he redeems himself with a poignant rendition of They Don’t Make Glass Slippers.
Despite Keith’s efforts, there’s little in this production to paper over the cracks of the original. It’s even more disappointing that the diversity of Soho, though referenced in the script, isn’t reflected in the casting.