CinderELLA at NST City, Southampton, REVIEW: 'It’s played by actor-musicians which always leaves me in total awe'

From left: Emma Darlow (Melania), Valda Aviks (Ella), Imelda Warren-Green (Ivanka). Photo by The Other Richard
From left: Emma Darlow (Melania), Valda Aviks (Ella), Imelda Warren-Green (Ivanka). Photo by The Other Richard
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This new musical tells the story of two Cinders – one an elderly lady, the other a teen, and the battle they each face with grief.

It’s played by actor-musicians which always leaves me in total awe, though I was slightly concerned in one dance routine that Ella (the mature protagonist) was about to be caught in a guitar-neck decapitation incident.

There’s a plethora of catchy songs including a short and snappy one about deceit which pleased me with its black heart, and another about things being as wrong as ‘a vegan with a pork chop’. Great.

With a stunning set backing it all up, we were away.

The stand-out moment for me came in act one as Cinders (Lydia White) sings about the Christmas she had a year ago, with her father.

It could have broken the house if she’d been left uninterrupted to finish instead of having a quick chat while we all blew our hankies and wiped away one tear instead of a waterfall.

But, and this is a big but, while I found lots of it very amusing and surprising in its disregard for rhymes, and the themes were different to usual Christmas fare, the younger members of the audience looked bewildered.

An elongated fart joke and references to things being ‘peng’ didn’t hit the mark with the littler ones who perhaps didn’t find the policeman’s (played by Tom Hier) line pronunciation as completely and utterly satisfying as the adults in the room.

I’m also concerned about the ugly nieces, their culpability for previous crimes and subsequent punishment. Don’t get me wrong, I thought it was brilliantly awful and exceptionally well played, but I’m not sure how I would explain it to a six-year-old.