Hot Stuff at the Haymarket Theatre, Leicester, and then on National Tour
Director and co-deviser Paul Kerryson pushed the button for the seventies revival when he opened the first production of Hot Stuff a decade ago. Since then the show has enjoyed a stint in the West End, two national tours and eight runs at Leicester, including this latest production. which goes kicks off on another national tour from the beginning of May. It's not surprising then that the piece is developing the kind of hype that has turned the likes of The Rocky Horror Show into a cult.
It follows the story of Joe Soap, a feeble wannabe rock star who sells his soul to the devil for success. The loosely Faustian tale is interwoven with a galaxy of 70s hits, from Abba to Queen, the Village People to the Three Degrees, glam rock to punk, all of which have the audience on their feet throughout.
Michael Strassen ensures the piece does not become yet another compilation musical by acting his platforms off as Joe, making the character wet but likeable, then in turn, successful, bored, angry and finally resigned to his fate. He also glides his way through a variety of singing styles, from the soul of 'Help Me Make It Through the Night' to the entertaining comedy of 'Puppy Love'.
And that's where the show really makes it mark. Kerryson ensures high levels of camp and comedy, sometimes lapsing from innuendo into downright rude talk, but always in an amusing, never vulgar manner.
Most of the out-and-out hilarity, however, comes from female impersonator Ceri Dupree as Lucy Fur. From the moment he rises through the floor of the stage, boasting glittered red horns and endless legs, Dupree holds the audience in his perfectly-manicured hands. He brings in aspects of his own cabaret act by hurling risque jokes and hilarious insults at members of the audience, again without being overtly offensive.
Melvin Whitfield holds the whole thing together, narrating as The Boss and belting out songs like 'Hey Jude' and 'Proud Mary' with power and style. Yildiz Hussein oozes sexual and vocal prowess as temptress Miss Hot Stuff, while Karen McSween brings grace and silky singing to the show as Joe's girfriend Julie.
The rest of the show falls firmly to the foursome of Kate Ellen Fouracre, Ben Garner, Lucy Quick and Alan Mosley, as they zip through a variety of dance routines, comedy cameos and solo numbers from 'Wuthering Heights' to 'YMCA'. Quick's Kate Bush and Mosley's Peters from Peters and Lee are a scream, while Fouracre and Garner switch, seemingly effortlessly, from rock to ballroom at the drop of a hat, as the show's only professional dancers.
The problem with many 60s and 70s tribute shows is that they can only ever be a shadow of the actual times, but Kerryson has kept a close eye on his show over the years, ensuring this Hot Stuff will never become lukewarm.
Hot Stuff dates:
Leicester Haymarket Theatre to April 22
Glasgow King's Theatre May 1-6
Sheffield Lyceum Theatre May 15-20
Billingham Forum Theatre May 22-27
Belfast Grand Opera House May 29-June 3
Stoke Regent Theatre June 5-10
Northampton Derngate June 12-17
Churchill Theatre, Bromley June 19-24
Leeds Grand Theatre June 26-July 1
The Lowry, Salford Quays July 3-8
Newcastle Theatre Royal July 10-15