ARE you going to dress up - you know, saucy? asked a (male) friend on hearing my imminent review of Miss Nightingale: A burlesque musical, at the Theatre Royal. It was a challenge exceeded by some in the audience. Tight, boned dresses and blunt Jessica Rabbit shoes, sharp up-dos and carmine-red lipstick over wiggle- dresses or petticoats. And that was just the men.
Actually there was no cross-dressing, but there was a surprise waiting for those who may have expected a straightforward tease and titillation show.
The smoky, seedy and atmospheric stage set has a stage within a stage, a piano, double-bass and drums.
When Maggie (Amber Topaz) launches into a deliberately faux-naif version of The Pussy Song it captures the comedy/tease balance of burlesque perfectly.
She sings with a heavy Sheffield accent, but the uplift on her era-specific corsetry is undeniable.
Even to me. The grey-haired gentlemen in the audience were transfixed.
But at the heart of the show is a love story and not just a love story to hang a thousand cliched situations on.
Show promoter Sir Frank Worthington-Blythe (Tomm Coles) and Jewish emigre songwriter George (Ilan Goodman) find a way to fall in love despite the horrors of the Second World War, shame and expectation. When they kiss, there is both a sigh and a sharp intake of breath from the audience. Things don't move on that quickly with the over-50s.
It is a story of friendship. The friendship between Maggie and George is as strong - and briefly physical - as that of George and Frank. And it is intensely uplifting.
The costumes and musical numbers are something else.
Irreverent and silly, hilarious and sexy - there are swanee whistles and badoom-tish moments to spare. Gentlemen are upstanding or stand to attention.
This is fabulous, flirty and outstanding stuff - and it's on until tonight. Go and see it!
'' When they kiss, there is both a sigh and a sharp intake of breath from the audience Jane Renton
A service of YellowBrix, Inc.
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