Instead of lavish costumes and elaborate sets it goes behind the scenes to give a taste of the sweat and desperation of the audition process.
Only in the finale – One (Singular Sensation) – do we get a glimpse of the anonymous glitz these hoofers aspire to be a part of.
Until then it’s almost two interval-free hours of black mirrored walls and leotards as the hopefuls are, briefly, considered as individuals and put through their paces for a place in the eponymous line up.
After the first swift, savage cut, demanding director Zach (ex Eastenders John Partridge, initially calling on the sharp dance skills acquired during his Royal Ballet School training, then a disembodied inquisitorial voice from the back of the auditorium) barks instructions at the remaining 17, prising out confessions about their personal lives as he works towards the final selection.
A solo dance for Scarlett Strallen’s Cassie (who tried – and failed – to make it in LA and now wants back in the chorus) is a bit of a let-down.
But otherwise, although it’s no longer cutting edge, director Bob Avian’s revival (he co-choreographed the original production) still makes for a pleasingly entertaining night out – thanks to the late Marvin Hamlisch’s memorable score, the cast’s fast footwork, and Leigh Zimmerman’s older, wise-cracking Sheila, hiding her insecurity behind an immaculate carapace of cynicism as she heads for the dancers’ scrap heap at thirty.
London Palladium, Argyll Street, W1A 3AB
Tube | Oxford Circus
Currently booking till 18th Jan 2014
(£19.50 – £65.00)
Photo: Manuel Harlan