By Jerome Studdy
She’s the single-slippered lass who has captured the heart of the prince and audiences alike.
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘Cinderella’ was brought to charming, magical, and bumbling life as Hornsby Musical Society staged their iteration of the classic tale. The opening night curtain rose to the gorgeous sound of a 21 piece pit, and the stage was set for a little bit of magic; and that’s exactly what we got!
Cinderella is such a well-known plot that I’ll skip the detailed recount of events. Scullery maid, prince, royal ball, pumpkin, magic, midnight, glass slipper, love at first sight, happily ever after. Director Eloise Plant, Assistant Director/Choreographer Lauren Oxenham, and Musical Director Jeremy Kindl have all jumped into this fairy-tale to bring a well-rounded production to the stage.
Cinderella herself is played by the enchanting Erica Penollar. Penollar’s vocals are definitely the champion of her performance as she tackles the fiendish leaps and intricacies of Rodgers’ score.
The moments where Penollar allowed herself to truly indulge in the joy of her character we’re radiant, although there were some scenes where her character slipped to make room for concentration on score or steps. Prince Charming (Andrew Mulholland) and Fairy Godmother (Alyssa Porteous) are both very cleverly cast and give dynamic performances. Penollar, Mulholland, and Porteous are solid as soloists, but the blend they achieved in their respective duets is highly commendable. Neat intonation and a clean, unified colour. David Emerson as Royal Steward Lionel was a standout and an absolute pleasure to watch. Emerson’s on-stage chemistry with Mulholland was palpable, and his comedic timing was well crafted.
The ensemble created a delightfully warm and full sound with an excellent control of intonation. This was met in kind with the masterful work of what was clearly an orchestra of very talented musicians. With the occasional stumble of ensemble, drooping tempo, or miscommunication between stage and pit aside, the orchestra were a delight and their performance was further lifted by excellent sound mixing. Similarly, the lighting design was clever and clean.
Oxenham’s choreography is ambitious and clever, however, it often exposes the shortfalls of the cast. The formation work is incredibly effective and often well executed, whereas technique, footwork, and turns were in need of some tightening. The dance breaks were filled well (no small feat with such an extensive score) and the cast are to be commended for their ever shifting partner-work. Getting to a point where the intense concentration of the cast isn’t visible as they dance will lift their performance dramatically, and will surely come with the continued run of the show. I am also pleased to report that this show features a wheelbarrow in one dance number!
The scene-work was where the show was met with some challenges. Lines were dropped, punchlines were lost to poor diction, and the accents were fluid to a point of confusing the entire context of the show. This aside, the cast did offer some excellent performances and displayed a clear attention to their character choices. Brilliant comedy was also displayed by the chorines and the amusing effect of only wearing one chorus heel.
The dress! It would be remiss to complete a review of this show without discussing the immense challenge of transforming a pumpkin into a carriage, white mice into horses, and rags into a radiant gown. Whilst the first two of these transformations were well done, they were nothing compared to the stunning effect of Cinderella’s transforming gown. Absolutely mesmerising to watch, I was terrified the entire effect would be thwarted by a snagged ribbon, but lo, she was transformed without a hitch! Kudos to the costume team!
Hornsby Musical Society have a delightful show on their hands. Buy your tickets, take your children, and throw your support behind these folks. I haven’t stopped humming, and I promise there will be music in you at the end of this show.
Photo Credit: Grant Leslie
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.