As much of Soho and Central London were plunged in to darkness in a power cut, The Old Compton Street on stage, at The Union Theatre, was fully lit and shining bright at the opening night of Stiles and Drewe’s Soho Cinders. Currently the toast of the town, for their work on Half a Sixpence and The Wind in The Willows, this timely revival, directed by Will Keith, is an upbeat delight that will have audiences totally absorbed.
Soho Cinders is a modern twist on the Cinderella story, ‘Robbie’ who faces losing his late mothers launderette to his evil step-father and step-sisters, falls in love with the London Mayoral candidate ‘James Prince’. It’s an affair that could hurt a lot of people and ‘Robbie’ is relying too heavily on his “Fairy Godfather”. When his two worlds collide, ‘Robbie’ is faced with a monumental fight to be with the man he loves. While it’s not a pantomime, the show doesn’t shy away from its roots and there are some delicious tongue-in-cheek moments.
As ‘Robbie’, Joshua Lewindon gives a striking performance that embraces everything that is good and bad about the character and lays it bare. His gentle vocals made “Gypsies of the Ether” and “They Don’t Make Glass Slippers” sound sublime and his relationship with the other actors was clearly heart-felt. Lewis Asquith, playing ‘James Prince’, captured the character perfectly, and manages to make a politician thoroughly likeable.
Emily Deamer plays ‘Velcro’, and is superb, she is incredibly natural and it’s as if the role was written for her, she works particularly well with Lowri Walton, as ‘Marilyn’, in a beautiful scene with the duet “Let Him Go”.
Michaela Stern and Natalie Harman as ‘Clodagh’ and ‘Dana’ were the highlight of the evening, their unashamed brash performances coupled with hilarious physical comedy made the audience fall head over heels in love with the villains. Their two big numbers “I’m So Over Men” and “Fifteen Minutes” were the icing on the cake for Soho Cinders.
Simple staging was countered with extraordinary choreography that had flashes of sheer brilliance. The score has a perfect mix of buoyant anthems and tender ballads that will stick in your head for days. True to fairy-tale form, the ending comes neatly wrapped in a saccharine sweet bow, but you’ll be so carried away you‘ll be happy to just go with it.
At its heart Soho Cinders is a modern love story that breathes new life in to a traditional format, a clever mix of old and new that would excite any theatre-goer, and puts the spotlight firmly on value-for-money entertainment.