Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Cinderella is a timeless story. Originally presented on television in 1957 starring Julie Andrews, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella was twice remade, first in 1965 for Lesley Ann Warren and then again in 1997 featuring Brandy and Whitney Houston.

The original Broadway production opened in 2013 featuring a witty new adaptation by Tony Award-nominee Douglas Carter Bean (Xanadu, Sister Act).

Beane has revised the plot so that Ella (Cinderella) is not merely a kind maiden in distress, but a curious young woman becoming aware of injustices beyond her own shabby treatment.

With solid direction from Mark Brokaw and choreography by Josh Rhodes, Cinderella is a lavish, handsomely staged production – with enchanting design elements (Anna Louizos), old-school stagecraft, and dazzling quick changes of costumes (William Ivey Long), it sits beautifully in the gilded surrounds of the Regent Theatre.

Cinderella also features a winning contribution from a superb stellar cast. With much style and grace, Shubshri Kandiah brings a sweet enlightenment to the role of Ella. She is reacquainted with her previous Aladdin co-star, Ainsley Melham, as Prince Topher, who is adorable and charming – proving this soaring tenor can not only sing, but can act with a gawky innocence.

Silvie Paladino once again proves why she is one of Australia’s leading ladies of the stage, stunningly transforming from the Beggar Woman, to Marie, the Fairy Godmother, with vocal prowess.

Tina Bursill revels in the role of Madame (Ella’s Stepmother), her sharply observant characterisation fills the stage, while Bianca Bruce as Charlotte and Matilda Moran as Gabrielle (the empathetic one) provides lighhearted comic counterpoint as the stepsisters.

Such joy to see on stage, Todd McKenney relishes to great affect as the magnificently maleficently Sebastian, Prince Topher’s advisor, while Josh Gardiner as Jean-Michel and Daniel Belle as Lord Lord Pinkleton round out the cast with defined solid performances.

Harking back to the ‘golden age’ of the Broadway musical, Simon Holt and his fourteen piece orchestra superbly play Rodgers & Hammerstein’s score that features some of the best known songs including In My Own Little Corner, Impossible / It’s Possible and Ten Minutes Ago. The combination of the new lush orchestrations and an outstanding ensemble richly filled the Regent Theatre to breathtaking effect.

Presented by Crossroads Live and Opera Australia, Cinderella is a stunning production that will please the young and the not-so-young at heart in an old-fashioned night of magic.

Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella
Regent Theatre, 191 Collins Street, Melbourne
Performance: Thursday 26 May 2022
Season continues to 23 July 2022

Following the Melbourne season, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella will play the Lyric Theatre QPAC, Brisbane from 5 August and the Sydney Lyric Theatre from 23 October 2022. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Shubshri Kandiah as Ella in Cinderella – photo by Jeff Busby

Review: Rohan Shearn