Derby Theatre’s Christmas show, Cinderella, by playwright Mike Kenny, is a rat-tling good show and great fun for all the family to enjoy. It follows the age old story of a young girl with loving parents whose beloved mum gets ill and dies. Dad eventually gets re-married and the new step-mum brings along her two spiteful daughters to live with them. Cinderella’s life is made a drudgery and a misery. Dad then dies. Cinderella is at her lowest ebb thinking she is an utter nobody and then rats invade the kitchen!
You would think that rats tumbling out of every crevice, up from the cellar and down the chimney, chewing and nibbling on anything that stands still would be the final straw. Not a bit of it! These raggy harlequin costumed rats, who befriend the sad Cinderella, are the most fabulous fun a furry friend can be. They can sing and dance and play live musical instruments and try to help Cinderella realise the hope and love in her lost and lonely soul. They also play all the other non-rat characters that appear in the show.
Talented actor-musicians Nicholas Coutu-Langmead, Chris Lindon, Rebecca Naylor, Christopher Price, Stephanie Rutherford, Catherine Toy and Jake Waring play the main rats Whiskers, Claws, Tail, Ears,Teeth, Nostrils and Eyes whilst the brilliant Young Company delight as the little rats.
Derby born Esme Sears charms as Cinderella and has a singing voice and personality that pulls on the heart strings. This is quite an emotional show about a person who believes they are nobody, at the bottom of the pile and treated like vermin – the same as the rats. The rapt audience are totally engaged throughout even to the point of little children in the audience standing up to see what Cinderella is creating on the floor with ashes from the fire. They respond with a sympathetic “aah” when the face of Cinderella’s dead mum is revealed. In this production of Cinderella there is a deep connection between the audience and the theatrics on stage that is utterly magical. This is a real ensemble piece that is as imaginative and agile as a daft rat skittering up a proverbial drainpipe.
Mike Kenny’s inventive rat perspective show, directed with obvious love by Sarah Brigham, is full of ridiculously catchy and harmonic songs, plenty of silliness and spectacle and a huge dose of the magic that comes from the best of theatre experiences. Ivan Stott’s wonderful musical compositions compliment Mike Kenny’s writing perfectly and the kitchen hearth set design by Nettie Scriven is enchanting. The clothes washing hanging above the set has an emotional life of its own and something about the clothes gently becoming illuminated within each garment as the spirit of Cinderella’s mother is around is very touching. Tim Heywood’s costume designs are a kaleidoscope of colour and creativity.
This reviewer had a total ball at Derby Theatre’s sparkling 2015 Christmas show – Cinderella. You will too, that is a fact that we at East Midlands Theatre can totally ratify!
Cinderella runs at Derby Theatre until Saturday 9th January 2106
Photo credit Robert Day.