Last weekend’s post about my favourite 1920s musicals reminded me about the simply smashing Mr Cinders (1928), prompting me to give the London revival cast album a listen, with the view of featuring in this week’s Forgotten Musicals Friday column.
The show is typical 1920s musical comedy, based on Cinderella, but with the genders switched, and there are a number of songs written in the style that The Boy Friend would parody roughly a quarter century later. Even though this is the real thing rather than a parody like Sandy Wilson’s popular 1950s show, Mr Cinders plays with the same sense of camp pastiche that The Boy Friend has. The show features a score by Vivian Ellis and Richard Myers, with a libretto by Clifford Grey and Greatorex Newman.
My favourite number is, I think, the one that has become most popular outside of the show, “Spread A Little Happiness”. “Tennis” is loads of fun; the numbers that involve the two nasty brothers, “Blue Blood”, “True To Two”, “Honeymoon For Four,” are all quite witty; and the Mr Cinders-Jill duets are both sweet, although I was more partial to “One-Man Girl” than “I’ve Got You”, which attempts to substitute wit for character and get away with it, but doesn’t quite succeed in my view.
I wasn’t crazy about “On The Amazon,” which sounds like it might have been funny just shy of a century ago, but perhaps hasn’t aged as well as the rest of the score. There are, however, two super ensemble numbers, “On With Dance,” and the “18th Century Drag”. The latter, one of those trademark musical comedy songs in which a new dance style is introduced (which was parodied in recent memory in Young Frankenstein‘s “Transylvania Mania”), is delightfully complex.
I would really recommend this recording to anyone. Listening to the score made me wonder what the book is like. It can’t be too hopeless, with revivals having been mounted sporadically since the 1980s, so it leaves me wondering why this show isn’t more popular with high schools and community theatres. I think it should be.
Want to add your own thoughts about Mr Cinders? Head to the comment box and share your views! I’d love to hear what you think about this show.