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Ian Kershaw's Adaptation of Cinderella is Totes Reem!

Published by: Kirstie Niland on 27th Dec 2014 | View all blogs by Kirstie Niland

The Dukes Theatre, Lancaster

This year’s festive show at The Dukes is sure to have delighted two young girls in particular, as well as the many theatregoers who’ve been enjoying Ian Kershaw’s novel re-working of Cinderella.

For the award-winning writer and actor wrote it for his daughters, aged 13 and 10, transforming “Ella” into a gutsy character who likes climbing trees, just like his own girls.


And you can’t help but think that the catchy theme tune and moral to his modern day version - Live Life to the Toe Top Full – must be the family motto promoted by both Ian and his wife, Julie Hesmondhalgh, well known for playing the equally gutsy and positive Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street.

Ella’s world is a Northern farm, where she lives with her Dad. She misses her Mum who’s passed away but nothing comes between her little family and their daily chores on the farm. Until her Dad remarries the Essex equivalent of Cinderella’s wicked Stepmother who brings her stroppy daughters Greta and Grizelda to live with them.


Performed in the round, with the pretty farmyard set populated by animals brought to life with some fantastic puppetry, Ella’s world begins to fall apart when the “ high end” trio arrive with demands of jewels and other “stuff” they want. Taking advantage of her new husband’s kind and gentle nature, the wicked stepmother rides roughshod over him and his beloved Ella, played by the likeable Rachael Garnett.

Amidst a blackmail plot and the arrival of Ella’s Prince Charming, good conquers evil as even the ugly sisters realise the error of their money-grabbing mother’s ways, finally leaving her to begin a sentence as a cleaner at the palace rather than face jail.

The cast of six double up on roles and all perform with enthusiasm and aplomb. However special mention must go to Josie Cerise, whose expressions and dance moves as the posturing little Grizelda are hilarious.

Meanwhile the wannabe Princesses' costumes, from the peach velour Lispy tracksuits to the ballgowns with fascinators, (brilliantly reminiscent of the ones worn by Beatrice and Eugenie at William and Kate's wedding) are genius.

The story is punctuated with lovely songs accompanied by a range of instruments, including a trumpet and ukulele, as tomboy Ella falls for the Prince and rescues her Dad from his greedy wife’s clutches.

Cinderella’s missing shoe is replaced by a pair of patent Doc Martens, and a touching and thought-provoking scene set in the haven of Ella’s late Mum’s tree, whose branches wrap around her and keep her safe, reminds us what real family is all about.

The story is told by a Grandfather to his Grandaughters, as a diversion for the girls who are anxiously awaiting news from Mum and Dad about their poorly pet dog. At first they are put off by the idea that Cinderella is a baby story, before being assured by the appearance of Ella, who says: “this one is a little bit different.”

Which it is, and all the more wonderful for it. What a magical gift Ian Kershaw has given his daughters and lots of other delighted children this Christmas.


There’s still time to see this enchanting adaptation of Cinderella with its poignant message to take with you into 2015 – Live Life to the Toe Top Full.

Cinderella runs until January 10. To book tickets ring The Dukes box office on 01524 598500 or visit

Photographs by Darren Andrews



  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 3 years ago
    Thanks, Kirstie. A lovely review.
  • Kirstie Niland
    by Kirstie Niland 3 years ago
    Thank you, love the modern interpretation with traditional values at the root. And still time to see it!
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