Rebecca Varidel
28th Oct 2022

Cinderella! What a truly truly beautiful musical. Written by Rodgers and Hammerstein in 1957 for television originally starring Julie Andrews but later performed on stage. With music by Richard Rodgers and a book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein this Cinderella now showing in Sydney by John Frost, Crossroads Live and Opera Australia at the Lyric Theatre is the highest version of this show.

Let's listen to the music which is really really delightful. If you love musical comedy, musical theatre, you must love Rodgers and Hammerstein. And Cinderella is up there musically with any of their shows: The King And I, Sound of Music, Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific - the kings and queens of musicals.

Now let's listen to the words of the songs. And do we do that often enough? They embrace glorious messages as relevant today as when they were first written.

"Actually I'm everyone's fairy godmother, but you're the only one who has given me charity, generosity and kindness."

Then here we arrive in Sydney at this current Opera Australia production. I love musical. I love Rodgers and Hammerstein, and I love Cinderella. Yet as a woman I was just a little skeptical about the relevance of the Cinderella story in 2022. Move over feminist doubts and worries. Be entertained by a story with positive messages of the better versions of ourselves that we can be. This is the true story of the Prince and Cinderella.

"Me, who am I? but the guy I am."
"I can be whoever I want to be.

They truly are the stars. Sensational superstars of the Sydney stage. Shubshri Kandiah as Cinderella gives us everything. Her voice is heavenly. Every note is divine. Clear. Pure. Cautious when exploring her future. Confident when claiming it. The Prince, Ainsley Melham in fine voice radiantly gives us the full spectrum of emotions, with a little side of pantomime. Together they couldn't be better.

"Now is the time of your life. The time of your life is today."

"The Cinderella story that most English-speakers know and love can be traced back to the French story Cendrillon published in 1697 by Charles Perrault. Cinderella is, at its heart, almost always a story of unjust oppression leading eventually to triumphant romance and success.

Perrault could never have known how this thin volume of fairy tales, Tales of Mother Goose which also included Sleeping Beauty, Puss In Boots and Little Red Riding Hood would become so famous."

If you love tradition, it's all here from the magical costume design by William Ivey Long (with wardrobe and wigs by Rebecca Ritchie for Opera Australia) to the opulent sets by Anna Louizos Designs.

Interestly, looking back the year 1957, when this was written, was a contradiction. Globally there were social changes happening. Yet this show was developed in the USA at the height of the fear that was McCarthyism. The television show and now stage production marries both classic fairy story and the message of social justice. Please don't let this sound too heavy. Just saying - there's enough here for the adults if you want to look.

Opera Australia give us entertainment that is contemporary, with moments of camped up pantomime lifting this above earlier versions. But for the kids, Cinderella can be as simple as the pure magic in their hearts. This is a show for everyone. With or without kids in tow.

Yes, this is a truly truly beautiful musical. Now showing, at Lyric Theatre.

Photo credit Jeff Busby