"a grand outpouring of talent"
by Aline Waites for remotegoat on 02/11/12

Although this may not be the greatest musical in the world - story a little forced, Music - only three really sing able tunes - but somehow that award winning couple - director Thom Southerland and producer Danielle Tarento have done their magic once again and treated us to a grand outpouring of talent. They have a knack and the nous to find the best creatives working in the business including Joseph Atkins, MD who is responsible for the arrangements and orchestrations; Martin Thomas who has made imaginative use of the unusual dimensions of The Vault in order to create perfectly the atmosphere of a sleazy Paris nightclub, an atmosphere helped enormously by Howard Hudson's lighting; and of course, it is staged by the most inventive and exciting choreographer in the business, Lee Proud.
The production values are really tremendous and I have to give a special mention to the piano playing of Ashley Knight fifteen minutes before curtain up.
Anna Francolini who plays the title role is a marvel - how does this pretty girl manage to look like a man in drag? She has impressively quick changes from pretty soprano to a young man in tail suit to sleazy drag queen - changes which are sometimes covered by tap dancing members of the ensemble - would have liked more of this!!. How talented she is with a soaring effortless soprano voice and the ability to keep up with Lee's energetic and quirky dancing with the best of them. Francolini is also capable of wringing the heart in her sentimental numbers 'Living in the shadows' and 'Crazy World'.
Toddy - a wonderfully camp performance from Richard Dempsey - is a gay night club entertainer who gets the sack for insulting some rude customers and happens to meet up with an out of work songstress and is impressed by her style when she puts on his boyfriends clothes and also by her power with the fisticuffs when the boyfriend objects.
Victor the transvestite becomes the toast of Paris but her career is threatened when she is attracted to a wealthy American night club owner who suspects her identity. His girl friend Norma (glamorous Kate Nelson) is unceremoniously dumped in the process.
The most impressive item is the number in Act one 'le Jazz Hot' which is Victor in a weird transvestite costume dancing and singing along with the ensemble and ending the number with begun with an amazing high note that almost brings the house to its feet.
Alas my favourite song - the soft shoe duet 'You and Me' seems too short. I think in the original it came up several times during the evening. I missed it.
The dancers and singers are all highly talented and disciplined and the direction by Thom Southerland is perfection.

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