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A CurtainUp London Review
Soho Cinders

"Oh Morality, I'm so glad you could show up. Meet my friend Robbie."
— Velcro
Soho Cinders
Luke Bayer as Robbie and Millie O'Connell as Velcro
(Photo: Pamela Raith)
Soho Cinders, in the Charing Cross Theatre, is set about half a mile from Old Compton Street where our lead Robbie (Luke Bayer an alternate for Jamie in Everybody's Talking about Jamie) runs his laundrette. Old Compton Street is in the heart of Soho and full of colourful and flamboyant characters as the first song and dance number "Old Compton Street" illustrates.

This gender switch on the Cinderella children's story has two ugly brothers, no I mean Ugly Sisters, kitted out in the full animal print, Clodagh (Michaela Stern) and Dana (Natalie Harman) who run a strip club come pole dancing club across the road from the laundrette.

Robbie's comrade in the laundrette is Velcro (Millie O'Connell lately as Anne Boleyn in Six) a cheerful cockney girl, who like Robbie is looking for the ideal man. Cue song "Wishing For The Normal". The self effacing Robbie has an older man friend Lord Bellingham (Chris Coleman) whom he has met for dinner and conversation but Robbie doesn't know him except by his first name. Bellingham is very well heeled and offers to help Robbie out financially as the sisters keep putting up the rent and have kicked Robbie out of the house where he lived with his now deceased mother.

Robbie's prince is celebrity royalty, James Prince once a champion swimmer and now a mayoral candidate for London (Lewis Asquith). Prince's campaign is fronted by the spin doctor and political wheeler dealer, the slippery William George (Ewan Gilles). Prince has just asked his friend from university Marilyn Platt to be his fiancée (Tori Hargreaves) and of course be his arm candy on his mayoral campaign.

Robbie and James meet one night with the mysterious and evocative ballad "Gypsies Of The Ether" with its clever and delicate lyrics, "You are my intimate stranger, you are my faraway friend". It's worth remembering lyricist Anthony Drewe was responsible for some of the Mary Poppins lyrics with his partner composer George Stiles.

The invitation to the ball is courtesy Conservative Mayoral sponsor Lord Bellingham which Robbie gets along with a Prada dinner suit and some cash. Interesting take on the Fairy Godmother here as I've never thought of the Fairy Godmother with sexual designs on Cinderella! You can guess the outcome and our mayoral candidate has to choose between honesty and his political career as the Street of Shame will expose his affair with Robbie.

Like the original there may be happy endings but I was to question what Prince would have in common longer term with his laundrette owner, something I'm ashamed to say I've never questioned about Cinderella the scullery maid and her Prince Charming. Still it shows this cast in Soho Cinders must have suspended disbelief even though Lewis Asquith as James Prince seemed to me to be lacking in the necessary charisma and charm.

The redeeming of this show comes in Stiles and Drewe's beautiful tunes and the outstanding voices of Luke Bayer, Millie O'Connell and Tori Hargreaves. Millie O'Connell doesn't really have enough to do but what she sings is lovely. Velcro does bond with Marilyn in "Let Him Go". Luke Bayer's personality shines through and of course the Ugly Sisters are horrid.
Musical Numbers
Act One
  • "Old Compton Street"
  • "Wishing for the Normal"
  • "Spin"
  • "Gypsies of the Ether"
  • "I'm So Over Men"
  • "I'm So Over Men" (reprise)
  • "Remember Us"
  • "Old Compton Street" (reprise)
  • "It's Hard to Tell"
  • "You Shall Go to the Ball"
Act Two
  • "Entr'acte"
  • "Who's that Boy?"
  • "They Don't Make Glass Slippers"
  • "Spin" (reprise)
  • "The Tail that Wags the Dog"
  • "Let Him Go"
  • "Wishing for the Normal" (reprise)
  • "Remember Us" (reprise)
  • "Fifteen Minutes"
  • "Finale"

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Soho Cinders
Music by George Stiles
Lyrics by Anthony Drewe
Book by Anthony Drewe and Elliot Davis
Directed by will Keith
Starring: Luke Bayer, Millie O'Connell, Michaela Stern, Natalie Harman, Lewis Asquith, Tori Hargreaves, Ewan Gillies, Christopher Coleman, Melissa Rose
With: Ben Darcy, Savannah Reed, Luke Byrne, Laura Fulgenzi, Danny Lane, Jade Bailey, Thomas Ball
Musical Director: Sarah Morrison
Choreographer: Adam Haigh
Set Design: Justin Williams
Costume Design: Nicole Garbett
Sound Designer: Andrew Johnson
Lighting Design: Jack Weir
Running time: Two hours 20 minutes with an interval
Box Office: 08444 930 650
Booking to 21st December 2019
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 28th October 2019 evening performance at The Charing Cross Theatre, The Arches, Villiers Street, London WC2N 6NL (Rail/Tube: Charing Cross, Embankment)
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