Cinderella // Phoenix Ensemble

Phoenix Ensemble’s production of Cinderella, the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, is a fun outing for the whole family. Originally written for television in 1957, Cinderella is a musical retelling of the classic fairytale, particularly the version by Charles Perrault featuring music by Richard Rodgers and a book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Phoenix Ensemble’s imagining of this classic is sweet, light-hearted and wonderfully uplifting.

The lighting design by Liam Gilliland is simple and effectively supports the major moments of magic on stage when the Fairy Godmother first appears and when Cinderella is transformed for the ball. Perry Sanders’s sound design and production is clean and smooth with performers and vocalists easily heard except for a few minor microphone hiccups to be expected on opening night.

Image Credit: Kenn Santos – PiF Productions

The set designed by Justin Tubb-Hearne builds the world of the show through two big trees flanking the stage on either side with a beautiful backdrop of the castle on the hill. The backdrop easily transforms into the palace steps and the clock against the back wall for Act Two. A beautifully designed fireplace and mantle is easily slid on and off stage to create Cinderella’s living room. The green door on wheels is utilized to its full extent to build the tension between Cinderella and her stepmother.

The costumes also designed by Justin Tubb-Hearne are simply spectacular featuring a raggedy pink dress that dramatically transforms onstage into Cinderella’s beautiful blue ball-gown. The magical helpers boast beautiful long, purple cloaks and the finale features Cinderella in a gorgeous white wedding dress. The ensemble is dressed in colourful attire as townsfolk and guests at the ball. Particularly perfect are the ridiculously over-the-top colour-coded green and purple outfits of the two stepsisters and the dark red and black villainous aesthetic of the stepmother.

Image Credit: Kenn Santos – PiF Productions

Directed by Julianne Clinch, Phoenix Ensemble’s Cinderella is executed with a clear vision and creative staging. The choreography by Ange Schoemaker and Melanie Southall utilizes every inch of the small stage space effectively, especially in the big ensemble numbers. In particular, the scene where the Prince and Lionel are travelling the country in search for the girl who fits the shoe, the staging and choreography of the ensemble had the audience in stitches.

The music in this production is outstanding and the credit for this must go to Musical Director, Sally Faint, and the wonderfully talented band and vocalists. The band provides an effortless performance of the beautiful score that supports the vocalists to deliver a near-perfect performance.

Lara Boyle’s Cinderella is perfectly naïve and positively angelic. Boyles is an excellent vocalist who delivers Cinderella’s numerous solo numbers with poise and perfect pitch. Adam Goodall as Prince Christopher is one of the absolute standout performers of this production. When Goodall sings, it feels authentic, every emotion is beautifully portrayed as the audience is transported into his world.

As the King and Queen, Shane Webb and Stephanie Collins are perfectly matched with believable chemistry. Webb and Collins are both excellent vocalists and their rendition of ‘Boys and Girls like You and Me’ is magnificent and heart-stirring.

Priya Shah and Jamie-Lee Kemp as Joy and Grace respectively are both hilarious and wonderfully talented. The chemistry between this comic duo is electric and makes this show.  Shah’s Joy is absolutely hysterical and another one of the standout performances of the show. As Grace, Kemp has a fantastic comedic stage presence. Together, Shah and Kemp create the perfect picture of constantly squabbling siblings.

Image Credit: Kenn Santos – PiF Productions

As Lionel, Ren Gerry is perfectly comedic and the interplay with Brittany Smith’s Step Mother makes for many great audience laughs. Smith is positively terrifying as Step Mother and a perfect villain. But at the same time, the emotions underlying her performance are conveyed authentically and Smith manages to make a traditionally two-dimensional villain feel rounded out.

As the Fairy Godmother, Zoe Costello is sassy and outspoken and a highly talented vocalist whose kitschy, sarcastic interpretation of the character creates a nice balance with Cinderella’s solemnity. The production is rounded out by a very talented ensemble featuring Ella Oliphant, Nick Ferguson, Cass Mayer, Laura Gordon, Solomon Ashton, Laura MacCabe and Dylan Procter who build out the world of this show and provide a stunning array of vocal harmonies throughout.

Overall, Phoenix Ensemble’s Cinderella is everything you would expect from a lighthearted, fairytale musical and more. The quality of this show is very high for community theatre and for that the creatives behind this production should be applauded. Cinderella is the perfect outing if you are looking for a fun, family-friendly show.

Cinderella is playing at the Pavilion Theatre Beenleigh Showgrounds until Saturday 28 August 2021 and tickets are on sale now through

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