Prince Of Wales Theatre, London W1
Opened 12 March, 2002

*** Well, at least you can't say you don't know how it ends

As a child, did you have a favourite live-action TV show that was turned into a disappointing cartoon series? This feels a bit like that.

To answer the crucial question first: yes, they do, right at the end, but only for about half a second and in lighting that dazzles us. Now, to those other questions. Why turn this film about hard-up blue-collar workers becoming male strippers into a musical? Simple: to keep the money mill turning. Why shift the setting from Sheffield to Buffalo? Because it's primarily a Broadway musical, Americans don't know Sheffield from Strasbourg and this way the actors won't have to grapple with Yorkshire accents in the way that Dora Bryan, as their ageing pianist (a new character), has to approximate a New York drawl.

Fair enough, the show (which, including interval, is twice as long as the film and gets through not quite all of its story) does it job solidly. David Yazbek's songs are a little harder-edged and more contemporary than standard stage-musical fare, and it looks and plays well and enjoyably.  The strange thing is that many of the audience react to any remotely "business-end" moments as if they were watching actual strippers; I heard two women in the interval discussing how attractive the various actors were in this regard. But you pays your money...

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Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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