Cinderella but not as you know gets UK premiere at Hope Mill

SPECTACULAR dresses? Check! Fairy Godmother? Check! Grace Mouat’s character Ellie in Cinderella which opens at Manchester’s Hope Mill Theatre next week certainly ticks all the boxes of the traditional fairy story.

But Ellie has attitude, she’s feisty, she’s got opinions and she’s not going to be talked down to.

“I think that’s what’s so special about this show,” said Grace. “It still keeps that classic fairytale ascetic but the actual content of the show is so perfect for a modern day audience. I don’t think people will expect this version but it will really connect with them.”

Cinderella has been put on stage countless times. It’s a pantomime favourite, there are various dance versions and, of course, Disney has put it on film.

But this version of the show is the only musical written for television by legendary duo Rodgers & Hammerstein and first shown in America in 1965 starring Julie Andrews. Subsequent broadcasts have featured Whitney Houston and Brandy in the title role and Lea Salonga appeared in a version on Broadway.

The Bolton News: Grace Mouat as Ellie In Cinderella (
Picture: Michael Wharley)

But Grace has been handed the responsibility of starring in the European premiere which opens on Tuesday.

“I’m not sure I’ve properly processed that even now,” she laughed. “But it’s so cool to think that I get the chance to put my version of Cinderella on to the stage.”

Grace has been very conscious not to make Ella a simple fairytale princess.

“It’s not about her being saved by a prince,” she said. “Yes, we do have that romance but she doesn’t go to the ball to fall in love; she goes to the ball to tell the prince what’s happening in the kingdom and about the poor having their land taken from them. She’s a strong character.

“And there are so many other characters that have their own incredible storylines. There’s so much more to it than the classic Disney fairytale.

“I’m not going to spoil it but you get to the end of act one and think that is the whole Cinderella story done but then you’ve got a whole other act to go.”

Grace got her big break when she was cast in a new musical which became a worldwide phenomenon – Six. She was part of the original cast and as understudy played all of Henry VIII’s six wives on tour.

The Bolton News: Grace Mouat as Ellie In Cinderella (Picture: Michael Wharley)

“Oh, I can’t keep away from a crown,” she laughed. “But that show totally changed my life. I’m so grateful for every minute I had in it. And now that’s why it’s so cool to be doing something do different.”

While Six and & Juliet another hit musical which Grace has starred in have been fast moving, pop-inspired shows, Cinderella has a massive scope to it and features songs from the masters of the stage musical.

“That light classical style is what I first trained in,” she said. “It’s always been where my heart is.”

Grace appears to be revelling in the fact that for many in the audience, she will be a role model.

“This industry is tough,” she said, “but leaving the stage door and having someone say to you ‘I felt seen and I felt represented’ it just makes every single bit of blood, sweat and tears worth it.

“I just want any young person whatever their age and whatever their gender feeling like they can conquer the world when they leave. To have young people of colour watching this show and seeing themselves on stage, I think that’s such an important thing.

“I hope that they will leave the theatre thinking ‘I can do that’ whether that’s to perform on stage if that’s what you want or go on the journey so that you can overcome whatever is thrown at you.”

Hope Mill, Manchester’s newest producing theatre has already gained a great reputation for its shows.

“It’s so special,” said Grace. “I went and saw Rent and Spring Awakening there and as soon as I stepped in I knew that it was a bucket list venue. It just has that vibe.

“There’s this intimate space which make the audience really part of the show and yet this will be a big production full of magic and music.

“You can escape from whatever is going on in your world and just come along and walk into this little hug of a venue and sit back and go on this amazing journey in this intimate setting and leave feeling really hopeful and optimistic. I think that’s the main message of this show.”

Cinderella is in Manchester for six week.

“After that it’s back to the grind,” laughed Grace. “The original cast of Six are a girl band now. We were originally called Seven but we’ve dropped the vowels now so we’re SVN so we’ll be working on something.

“And then there’s always the transfer of Cinderella to the West End; now that would be nice.”

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester, Tuesday, November 1 to Sunday, December 11. Details from

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