Recently, I listened to the London revival cast album of Mr Cinders. 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 involved the two nasty brothers are all quite witty “Blue Blood”, “True To Two”, “Honeymoon For Four”; and the Mr Cinders-Jill duets are both sweet, although I was more partial to “One-Man Girl” than “I’ve Got You”, which perhaps tries (unsuccessfully) to substitute wit for character and get away with it. I wasn’t crazy about “On The Amazon”, which sounds like it might have been funny in 1929, but isn’t now. There are two super ensemble numbers, “On With Dance”, and the “18th Century Drag”. The latter, while being one of those trademark musical comedy songs in which a new dance style is introduced (as parodied in Young Frankenstein‘s “Transylvania Mania”), is delightfully complex.
I would really recommend this recording to anyone. Listening to the score made be wonder what the book is like – it can’t be too hopeless, with revivals having been mounted sporadically since the 1980s – and wonder why this show isn’t more popular with high schools and community theatres. I think it should be.
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