They don't make glass slippers, it's no great surprise.
If they made glass slippers, they don't have my size.
Happy ever after, always turns out wrong
No fairy godmother pops up to help things along.
The idea for Soho Cinders began a while ago when Anthony had an idea of updating a very basic version of Cinderella into something different. Originally he wanted to call it Launderella and set it in a launderette, and Cinders was as usual a girl.
That idea stuck around in the ether for five or six years and then the summer just after the new millennium, Stiles and Drewe sat in Regents Park with a huge piece of paper and started beating out how they could adapt this into a much more contemporary theme and twist the story. And write about some things that were significant and important to them.
The show was to have a vaguely satirical and political slant to it as well. Everything else that they have done has either been in fairy land, or has been a period piece. They wanted to do something that is NOW. Partly to challenge themselves, and partly because they thought this was what young actors and actresses were interested in these days. There is a gay love story element to the story, as well as it being a poke at celebrity status and politics nowadays. It focuses on what really matters, is it the person and their beliefs or is it their private life?
The show was sort of finished when they became slightly hijacked by Mary Poppins. Now that Mary Poppins has played both Britain and Broadway Stiles and Drewe have had the chance to go back and revisit it. Soho Cinders has had a few workshops and some of the songs were exclusively premiered on Sunday 6th July 2008 as part of the gala evening "A Spoonful of Stiles and Drewe" celebrating 25 years of songwriting by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. Starring Gareth Gates, Leanne Jones, Oliver Tompsett, Joanna Riding, Claire Moore, Rebecca Thornhill, Daniel Boys, Alison Jiear, Richard Dempsey and James Gillan.
Soho Cinders is a fable for the noughties if you like. Stiles and Drewe's many inspirations from musicals are shows like Guys and Dolls, which achieve a world which never really existed but you kind of feel might have done. They are a heightened version of a past time.
What they are trying to do with Soho CInders is do a version of that for London NOW. Which is exciting. They wanted to write a bit about where they live, things they know about, places they visit, and poke a bit of fun at their current world.
So Soho Cinders is great fun but at the heart of it there is a love story and a few serious issues. But there is a lot of sillyness along the way too!
The equivalent of the ball is when this prospective parliamentarian throws a MEET YOUR MAYOR evening at his house, where all the local business are invited to come and talk about their problems. Robbie goes in one of those buggy rickshaws, which is the equivalent of the carriage, up to the house.
It is very loosely based on Cinderella, and in fact the last song in the show is called THEY DON’T MAKE GLASS SLIPPERS because we want to pull the blanket at the last minute and not necessarily go for a happy ending.
On the 9th October 2011 Soho Cinders received a one off charity gala with an all star cast and a 16 piece band led by George Stileson in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust.
George Stiles Interviewed before the gala concert.
You shall go to the ball, Cinderella...eventually
If we've taken a while to write Soho Cinders, it's not surprising. The Cinderella story goes back a long way – the Ancient Greek historian, Strabo, recorded in the 1st century BC the tale of a Greco-Egyptian girl, Rhodopis:
"When she was bathing, an eagle snatched one of her sandals from her maid and carried it to Memphis. While the king was administering justice in the open air, the eagle flung the sandal into his lap.
The king, having been stirred both by the beautiful shape of the sandal and by the strangeness of the occurrence, sent men in all directions into the country in quest of the woman who wore the sandal.
When she was found in the city of Naucratis, she was brought up to Memphis and became the wife of the king..."
In 2000 we sat in Regent's Park to discuss what we'd like to write next. Our musical Honk! had just won the Olivier Award at the National Theatre and we felt we should choose a subject that challenged us and perhaps took our audience by surprise - something that didn't involve any animals!
We agreed we'd like to write something contemporary, funny – satirical even – with a catchy pop score. We wanted to write about our wonderful city; we wanted to write about the way people have become so disenchanted with their politicians (Clinton and Lewinsky dominated the news); and we wanted to write about the complexities of love – gay and straight - in the breakneck pace of the internet age.
Soho Cinders is a fable - we have tried to create a London that's recognisable as a parallel universe, populated by archetypal characters you immediately fall for and relate to.
Our story is about a love that blossoms between two people of different generations and backgrounds and what they learn from each other. Most importantly we wanted to write a set of songs that could work outside the context of the show and yet still drive the story forwards. Although loosely based on Cinderella, Soho Cinders is a brand new story, and that's where we hit a few snags.
Having written our first act very quickly, we read it with some students from Arts Ed in 2002 and realised that real-life was overtaking art and we needed to rethink our over-complicated plot for act two. Suddenly, however, out of a blue sky and on an east wind, a familiar fairy godmother appeared – Cameron Mackintosh - and we were interrupted from our labours by the arrival of Mary Poppins, which blew us happily from London to Broadway and back.
Mary Poppins completed, we featured seven of the Soho songs as the finale of our concert, A Spoonful of Stiles and Drewe in 2008 and were greatly encouraged. But then we found ourselves writing Betty Blue Eyes, and our new musical of Soapdish, and it was 2010 before we finally returned to Soho Cinders. Ants had the brilliant idea of asking our friend Elliot Davis to help us re-structure the plot. He responded so positively to the material that we were immediately reinvigorated to finish the show.
On October 9th 2011 at the Queen's Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, we took the unusual step of premiering Soho Cinders in a one-night-only concert version. We wanted to see if a west-end audience would warm to our tale and since we were planning a fund-raiser for the fantastic work of the Teenage Cancer Trust it seemed that, like Cinder's slipper, this was the perfect fit.