In October 2011, the Stiles and Drewe musical Soho Cinders made its debut at the Queen’s Theatre in a one-night-only gala performance held in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust. It featured a cast of West End names, including Hannah Waddingham, Sharon D. Clarke, Michael Xavier, David Bedella and Jos Slovick, with Sandi Toksvig acting as the story’s narrator. After being warmly received by the audience and critics, a cast recording of this modern day Cinderella story was released by SimG Records in December 2011 – I was out of town for the live performance, but after hearing the album I gave this ‘fun, upbeat and positive’ musical a five star review.
Soho Cinders has been ten years in development, with the songs first performed for audiences in the 2008 concert A Spoonful of Stiles and Drewe. Now, the musical will receive its full world premiere when it comes to Soho Theatre in the West End this summer. It was announced last week that it will run at the theatre from 8th August 2012 – 9th September 2012 (with previews from 2nd August), with some of the 2011 gala cast returning to reprise their roles. Michael Xavier, Clive Carter, Suzie Chard, Amy Lennox and Beverly Rudd have been confirmed in the 2012 cast, with Olivier Award winning actress Jenna Russell (Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods) set to join them and writer/actor/comedian Steven Fry also lending his voice to the production. Further casting is yet to be announced.
Soho Cinders centres on the story of law student Robbie who is working as a rent boy in Soho. He becomes caught between London mayoral candidate James Prince and a generous political party donor, with sleazy campaign manager William George, Robbie’s best friend Velcro, Prince’s fiancé and ugly step-sisters also along for the ride. It has music by George Stiles and lyrics by Anthony Drewe, who collaborated with Elliot Davis on the book.
Stiles and Drewe have been a composing team for thirty years and are widely considered by many to be our country’s best hope for new writing in musical theatre. They are responsible for the Olivier Award winning musical Honk! and the more recent Betty Blue Eyes, which ran for six months in the West End last year. They also contributed new songs to the critically acclaimed musical production of Mary Poppins.
This debut production of Soho Cinders is to be directed by Jonathan Butterell and produced by Soho Cinders Ltd, Jamie Hendry Productions, Daniel Sparrow & Mike Walsh Productions, Neil Marcus and Paul Tyrer & Jamie Clark for the Booking Office in association with Soho Theatre. In a statement from the theatre, they said of Soho Cinders: “We are delighted to welcome the Soho Cinders producers to present this rare musical treat within the venue’s main house, providing an opportunity for our audience and musical theatre audiences to see this full-scale musical within an intimate space; whilst Soho Theatre takes its regular programme of new writing, comedy and cabaret to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012.”
Having missed its gala performance last autumn, the news of Soho Cinders’ return visit to the West End (for a longer stay this time) is very welcome indeed. The rags to riches story of Cinderella is one which most people have grown up with, and this ‘remix’ brings the fundamental aspects of that tale to London’s Soho district with a homosexual twist that reflects the issues that exist in our modern society. Soho is a wonderful, vibrant place where you can find people from all walks of life, and from August 2012, Soho Cinders is going to make an outstanding addition to our town.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Tuesday 22nd May 2012