Uptown Players' Soho Cinders Belongs in the Musical Ash Heap
Instead of producing the American premiere of British musical Soho Cinders, Uptown Players should've taken script and score and burned them. What a tawdry, creepy adaptation of Cinderella. If a musical could carry an STD, this one would come with a warning from the CDC.
With music by George Stiles, book and lyrics by Anthony Drewe (with Elliot Davis), Soho Cinders puts its sleazy fairy tale in the midst of London's seedy hooker district. "Cinders" is "Robbie," a pretty boy-for-rent (played by Peter DiCesare with some nice singing but no facial expressions at all). He's carrying on a by-the-hour affair with one closeted politician (Francis Henry) while conducting a love affair with another (Sean Burroughs). The latter is engaged to a woman (Janelle Lutz) and running for mayor of London. Robbie's trashy stepsisters (Kim Borge, Stephanie Felton) out him to the media and scandal ensues.
Direction by John De Los Santos is all over the map. Working from two different versions of the show, he's ended up with an awkward mix of broad British panto (the stepsisters) and overly earnest gay drama. We never know why the fairy godmother/narrator (Linda Leonard, doing her best with crap material) starts out dressed like the feed-the-birds hag from Mary Poppins and then comes on in a slick tuxedo. There's a second godmother (Sara Shelby-Martin) on a three-wheel bike. Confusing much.
Tuneless songs go on for 10 to 15 minutes each (I timed them) and are reprised to death. So many tiresome clichés play out, from the ooh-boys-are-kissing moments to the degrading for no reason of the only fat girl in the cast. Nobody loses a shoe. But I felt like throwing mine at the stage.
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