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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Mercury Theatre Company Turns Cinderella on Its Head in 'Soho Cinders,' Featuring a Young Gay Man at the Center of the Ball

Posted By on Tue, Jun 19, 2018 at 11:58 AM

click to enlarge COURTESY MERCURY THEATRE COMPANY
  • Courtesy Mercury Theatre Company

Okay, sure, Jerry Lewis did it first in Cinderfella, turning the Cinderella story on its head and switching genders of the poor little heroine. But as inventive as Lewis was, he could never have anticipated Cinderella being turned into Robbie, a young gay man who is having an affair with a married (to a woman) mayoral candidate, James Prince, in London, England while diddling a Lord Bellingham on the side.

That’s the essence of the musical Soho Cinders now being produced by the Mercury Theatre Company. Robbie shares his confusion with his girlfriend Velcro during their frequent meetings at the local laundrette, Sit and Spin. And that relationship actually turns out to be the most affecting and resonant one in the show

The music by George Stiles and lyrics by Anthony Drewe range from acceptable to downright wonderful. Although the book by Drewe takes some enormous leaps of logic, eschewing reality when it comes to a political candidate having such dalliances.

As with Cinderella, the story comes to a climax during a ball, when the three men meet awkwardly. Robbie has managed to get to the fancy-dress affair despite the shenanigans of his evil stepsisters Dana and Clodagh.



Under the direction of Pierre-Jacques Brault, the cast is quite competent with a couple standout moments. The duet between Mason Henning as Robbie and Kennedy Ellis as Velcro is drop-dead gorgeous. And Amiee Collier and Kelvette Beacham as the sisters spare no calories in making the women as nightmarish as possible. That comes to a head in the song “I’m So Over Men” which, as you might expect, is so wrong.

As Prince (who is, you know, the “Prince”), Brian Marshall dials back the attitude he often brings to character roles, playing a fairly straight (though gay) character with a bracing degree of honesty. And Joe Monaghan as Prince’s campaign manager adds a dash of sarcastic edge to the proceedings.

Even though the overall pace of the show seems a bit lethargic, and the British colloquialisms and accents are incomprehensible at times, the music shines forth. That makes Soho Cinders a must-see for those who relish new musicals that are willing to take chances.

Soho Cinders
Through June 23 produced by Mercury Theatre Company, Notre Dame College, Regina Hall, 1857 S. Green Rd., South Euclid, 216-771-5862, mercurytheatrecompany.org.

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