Stratford Circus in East London plays host to the UK premiere of off-Broadway tongue-in-cheek musical comedy Ruthless! this week. The cult US hit that introduced the world to a young Britney Spears and Natalie Portman opens tonight and continues to 27 October 2002 (previews from 2 October).

The Stratford dates mark the debut of a substantially rewritten Ruthless!, including various scene and dialogue changes and new song lyrics. Following the try-out of the new material in London, the show will transfer back to New York.

This 'murderous musical comedy' tells the tale of Tina Denmark, a fame-hungry young girl fighting for the spotlight with her mother, whose priorities are equally skewed. Cue over-the-top agent Sylvia St Croix who fights the case for the now institutionalised Tina, and personal assistant Eve, who wouldn't mind seeing her own name in lights.

With song titles such as 'Born to Entertain', 'A Penthouse Apartment' and 'I Hate Musicals', Ruthless! is a parody of big-budget Broadway musicals and the thirsty ambitiousness and callous back-stabbing that goes on behind the scenes.

Lisa Baird, who stars as Tina Denmark, is joined in the cast by Louise Hollamby, Paul L Martin, Julia Glass, Rachel Stanley and April moon. Ruthless! has music by Marvin Laird and lyrics by Joal Paley. The production is directed by Omar F Okai with musical direction by Rowland Lee.

- by Peggy Nuttall