London Theater Reviews: Cinderella, Prince of Egypt and Back to the Future

Before I start, i just need to discuss how excited making this post makes me. After 19 months I went to live theater and get to talk about it, i didn’t realize how much of a priviledge that would be! Here’s to many more. (sidenote: i had to go back to past posts to remember how i sued to do my reviews, that’s how long its been)

CINDERELLA

Official Blurb: Welcome to Belleville! The most aggressively picturesque town in the history of the world, populated exclusively with gorgeous townsfolk who stop at nothing to achieve perfection. Belleville is fairy tale come to life: a place where you can’t move without falling over a wishing well or a quivering milkmaid. Maintaining this façade is a full time job, and one that is taken very seriously indeed. The only person steadfastly refusing to live in the fairy tale is Cinderella, loud-mouthed, dripping with disdain, and more likely to roast Hansel and Gretel for dinner than play the demure and downtrodden maid, Cinderella is desperate to escape. But underneath it all, the loneliness that comes with being the town pariah is wearing on her. It doesn’t help that her only friend, Prince Sebastian, has suddenly become the heir to the throne after the mysterious disappearance of his elder brother: sex god and charisma machine, Prince Charming. Suddenly thrust into the spotlight, the formerly shy and somewhat-less-sex-goddish Sebastian seems to be quickly growing into his brother’s enormous britches, and out of his friendship with Cinderella. But this change of circumstances also introduces something else to the relationship, a new spark which neither of them quite know what to do with. Could it be that these two old friends mean more to one another than they are willing to let on? After a devastating PR disaster for Belleville, and with the threat of the guillotine glinting on the horizon, the Queen decides that the only thing to save the town (and her pretty neck) is a Royal Wedding: something colourful and distracting so the peasants don’t get too revolution-y. All looks lost for the blossoming romance, until Cinderella meets The Godmother, who can fix any problem with a little incision and a couple of broken ribs. Maybe the answer lies where Cinderella has been refusing to look: in becoming the identikit beauty that everyone has always told her to be.

My take: Expectations are a dangerous thing.  I have been waiting months to see this and im an ALW mega fan, so you can imagine how excited I was to get into this theater. Don’t get me wrong Cinderella is a really good show however my expectations weren’t fully met. First the positive, what did I love. The acting, especially Ivan Turco as the prince was great. he has a superb voice, great charisma and the surprise dance moves (you will not see them coming) were a delight. If only he had a different wig. I did not get to see Carrie Fletcher’s as Cinderella, I got her understudy Georgina Onuorah, and she was amazing as well, with a killer voice. The music is lovely, there are some very distinctive ALW melodic ideas that go throughout the show. Although there wasn’t a showstopper number, there were a few songs like Bad Cinderella and Far Too late, that stuck in my head. I also loved the staging, and the conversion of proscenium to theater in the round was epic, as were the costumes.
There were some minor hesitations however. I think the biggest issue here for me was that I expected a very modern take on Cinderella, and I had high expectations of this given that Emerald Fennell wrote the book. Although it is a modern take, it really doesn’t take it that far. I saw/read two even more modern takes of Cinderella this summer, between Camila Cabello’s Cinderella and the Book If the Shoe Fits. I also felt that the dancing was a missed opportunity here. Maybe it is because ive been so focused on dancing during the pandemic that it was obvious to me how a spectacular missed dance opportunity the ball was. Finally I found the stepmother grating. I understand it was a comedic choice, it just wasn’t for my taste.

Overall a really sweet show, and one that should be seen!

PRINCE OF EGYPT

Official Blurb: The story that changed the world. Experience the epic emotion, soaring music and breathtaking dance of the “massive new stage show” (Time Out) from multi Grammy® and Academy Award®-winner Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell). Journey through the wonders of Ancient Egypt as two young men, raised together as brothers in a kingdom of privilege, find themselves suddenly divided by a secret past. One must rule as Pharaoh, the other must rise up and free his true people; both face a destiny that will change history forever. With a huge cast and orchestra of 60 artists, this “truly phenomenal production” (BBC London) is based on the classic DreamWorks Animation film and features the international best-selling, Academy Award®-winning song When You Believe.

My take: I loved this show. I knew I was going to like the music as it has always been spectacular, but the execution is wonderful. From the first musical number you know this is going to be an epic show. The scale of this is huge and every song is quite impressive. My favorite things was the use of dance to advance the story. The choreography i spectacular and they are such a part of the scenery that its impressive. In terms of the cast, Luke Brady is spectacular as Moses (Ramses I Wasn’t as in awe) and all the women just blew me away. ITs hard to sign a song after it was done by Mariah and Whitney but Christine Allado and Alexia Khadime blow the roof off. I did not expect this to be so good, and can not recommend it more highly. Go see it.

BACK TO THE FUTURE

Official Blurb: Welcome to Hill Valley! Take an electrifying ride back in time as the 1985 blockbuster film and pop culture phenomenon arrives in London’s West End as a groundbreaking new musical adventure! When Marty McFly finds himself transported back to 1955 in a time machine built by the eccentric scientist Doc Brown, he accidentally changes the course of history. Now he’s in a race against time to fix the present, escape the past and send himself… back to the future. Adapting this iconic story for the stage are the movie’s creators Bob Gale (Back to the Future trilogy) and Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump). The production features original music by multi-Grammy winners Alan Silvestri (Avengers: Endgame) and Glen Ballard (Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror), alongside hit songs from the movie including The Power of Love, Johnny B. Goode, Earth Angel and Back in Time. Tony Award-winning director John Rando leads the Tony and Olivier Award-winning creative team, with Tim Hatley designing set and costumes.

My take: I think this was the opposite of my experience in Cinderella. I had absolutely no expectations, on the contrary I had reservations and a feeling it was going to potentially be terrible, but I needed to watch for myself. I was wrong. It’s such a fun show. I really had not watched the movie in such a long time and it brought me back in a great way. What works: obviously Roger Bart. He is fabulous and makes the show. The music is catchy as well and I was thoroughly entertained throughout. I really enjoyed the dance numbers and how the fantasy sequences occurred with the dancers – it made it appropriate for the medium and such a positive addition to the storytelling.

Great anecdote: There was a lot of commotion at intermission, and it took a long time. Then camera crews come down and two guys with them sit next to me and my sister and they keep getting filmed through out the second act. Long story short, we were in Back to the Future on Back to the Future day and Huey Lewis and Bob Gale were sitting next to us.

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