The venue is the Soho Theatre, right in the heart of gender bending Soho where it belongs – and just a stone’s throw from Old Compton Street where ugly sisters Clodagh and Dana run their strip joint and scheme to inherit the local launderette.
The usual role reversals are re-reversed. These man-hungry siblings are played, full throttle, by a pair of big, busty women – Suzie Chard in eye-poppingly scanty attire, which hasn’t a hope of covering her ample flesh, Beverly Rudd doused in glitter to go to the mayoral fundraiser hosted by the devious Lord Bellingham.
Instead of a demure Cinderella, we’re given rent boy Robbie (he prefers the term “escort”) their step-brother who’s funding his studies by offering extracurricular services. And sympathetic best friend Buttons has become tousle-haired Velcro (a sweet Amy Lennox) who runs the launderette once owned by his mother.
The songs are a happy mix of the catchy, the poignant, the clever and the raucous, with “Gypsies of the Ether” – a duet for Robbie and would-be mayor James Prince (Michael Xavier with the sort of leading man authority guaranteed to garner votes whatever ones sexual orientation) – especially haunting.
Gerard Carey bares his teeth as Prince’s unscrupulous spin doctor, Jenna Russell is touching as his fiancée and Stephen Fry provides a knowing voiceover for an evening which manages to be immensely enjoyable despite a book which (even after such a lengthy gestation) could still be improved.