Charing Cross Theatre, London – until 21 December 2019
I have great affection for Stiles and Drewe’s musical Soho Cinders, from its concert beginnings to a starry Soho Theatre production to a warm revival at the Union Theatre, its escapist fun nature and tuneful score remain quietly appealing. And it is that last Union production that has been reconceived for a new run at the Charing Cross Theatre, featuring some of the same cast members and beefed up with newcomers from Six and Jamie.
The show is a loose LGBT+ adaptation of the Cinderella story, updated to a contemporary London setting, albeit an improbably affordable and innocent pre-smartphone age. Robbie is a young man struggling to make ends meet with his Old Compton Street laundrette and consequently dallying with a sugar daddy, despite simultaneously hooking up with prospective mayoral candidate James Prince, who just happens to have a fiancée. It’s a daft plot but amiable, even if it doesn’t bear too much close scrutiny (clandestine meetings in Trafalgar Square?!).
Will Keith’s production adapts to the bigger space well, especially when Adam Haigh’s choreography is in full flow. Luke Bayer nails the fresh-faced appeal of Robbie, gliding over the issues of some of his dodgier decisions, and connects well with Lewis Asquith’s Jamie, himself no saint, making this a couple you can’t help but goofily root for. Millie O’Connell is entirely charming as Robbie’s best gal pal Velcro and returnees Natalie Harman and Michaela Stern come perilously close to stealing every scene they’re in as the funniest of ugly sisters. An alternative festive treat.