Cinderella Review & Photographs

Updated: Jun 12

CINDERELLA - A musical fantasy by Jeremy James Taylor with music by David Nield

Cinderella was written last year in response to disheartening reports that the current curriculum of schools in this country undervalued the contribution to education made by the Creative Arts, to the extent that there is almost no Artistic activity in many schools. We wanted to make Cinderella available to any school that was interested. St. John’s happily took up the offer to perform the work with their 10 year olds, putting the rehearsals on the school timetable; the whole of Class 5 is in the cast. The experience in acting, singing and dancing has been an integral part of their education over the last two terms and we have had a thoroughly enjoyable time working with them. This is the world debut production of Cinderella and the work is available to anyone else who wants to do produce it.



JEREMY JAMES TAYLOR ( Director and Co-writer)

Jeremy is a free-lance director and writer. His career started at The Northcott Theatre in Exeter before joining the National Theatre as actor and director. He was Associate Director at The Young Vic from 1975-8 before directing free-lance for the English National Opera and Glyndebourne amongst many others.


He founded the National Youth Music Theatre in 1976 and was its Artistic Director until 2005. He has written and directed over 30 pieces for the company


Since turning free-lance, he has been working extensively in schools and colleges all over the world from Mongolia to Sydney to Canada and Hong Kong. He has also worked as a casting director for Warner Brothers’ Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd and Sleepy Hollow amongst many other films. He was awarded the OBE in the 2010 Queen’s New Year’s Honours list for services to Young People and Musical Theatre.

DAVID NIELD (Music) David Nield was Organ Scholar at University College, Durham. He came to London in 1965 to become Director of Music at Tiffin School in Kingston on Thames, a position he held for the whole of his teaching career till 2002. During that time he created an international reputation for the music department of the school.


Between 1967 and 1995, he was Organist of Kingston Parish Church. The choir, described as the finest church choir in the country, broadcast regularly on radio and television


From its foundation in 1979, till 2002, David Nield was Chairman of The Children's Music Theatre, and subsequently the National Youth Music Theatre. He has written and conducted and broadcast many shows for the company. David continues to compose, and to teach keyboard instruments.



 

"..the wit of the dialogue crackling between them"


A REVIEW BY RICHARD BANNERMAN.

In December 2021 my 10 year old granddaughter Grace said that her whole class – Year 5 – at St John’s Church of England Primary School in Kingston-upon-Thames was going to stage a brand new musical production of ‘Cinderella’. Every week from then until May 26 a professional team of composer, writer, and director would be coming into the School to work with them on a 60-minute musical version of the fairytale with original script, music and lyrics. Both curious and delighted by this unexpected invasion, over the next five months Grace gave us regular updates, and waiting at the school gate to collect her, I would hear muffled noises of songs, dialogue, rustle and excitement. Every Wednesday and Friday at the end of the school day the PE routine was supplanted by rehearsals.

It gradually became clear that the production was under the overall direction of Jeremy James Taylor, founder of the National Youth Music Theatre, the multi-award winning theatre group, which has been producing shows performed by young performers, average age early to mid-teens, since 1976. How could this be that they had chosen the 10 year olds of Newton Class at St Johns?


I was mystified. I found out this was inspired by David Nield, sometime Director of Music at a local Kingston school, now retired, in an attempt to bring back live experience of the arts into Primary schools, at a time when they were being seriously threatened. St Johns had been quick off the mark, and Year 5 chosen as the class to perform this 60 minute version of ‘Cinderella’.

Winding back many years, I had seen the earliest productions of the National Youth Music Theatre when I was a producer for BBC R4’s arts magazine programme Kaleidoscope. Blown away by the energy, impact and professionalism of the young performers, Kaleidoscope reviewed the early productions and in 1982 devoted a feature-length programme to the work of Jeremy James Taylor and his team. Some 40 years later, would they be able to bring their magic to this group of Year 5 pupils with little or no performing experience, apart from the annual nativity play?

The lights dimmed in the school hall, and a lively crowd of townspeople flooded on to the stage to open the show :’Hurrah, today’s the day of the fair, The bells can ring, there’s Spring in the air’. Immediately the fizz and fun of a confident performance was conveyed by the young talents on stage. With lively lyrics by Jeremy James Taylor and music by David Nield, we were in excellent hands. Miguel as the Herald announced the Royal Ball when the Prince would choose his Bride, and the two Ugly Sisters – Jakob as Mozzerella and Harrison as Gorgonzola – were soon sparring with each other, the wit of the dialogue crackling between them, with poor Cinderella (Arabella), as always, caught in the middle and denied her ticket to the ball.

To Cinderella’s rescue came an army of Mice who busily created Cinderella’s gown and then turned themselves into a coach, moving at speed with the help of an animated backcloth (designed by the children) towards the Palace. Urging them on was Kseniyah, more of a Fairy Gothmother than a Godmother, in her huge spectacles and short bouffant skirt: ‘She shall dazzle them all in this beautiful gown, best of the Ball, talk of the Town’. And the woebegone Prince (Nathan), sadly singing of his lost love as she fled at midnight, at last found the foot which fitted the shoe.

Jeremy and his colleagues had weaved their magic once again and turned a year 5 class into a remarkably professional ensemble. The enjoyment that he and his colleagues transmitted to the young cast was palpable to all those who were lucky enough to witness it.

The production will be part of the Fuse Festival, sponsored by Creative Youth, which will be performed on July 2 at the Arthur Cotterell Theatre in Kingston College.

Richard Bannerman