Having whipped Fringe audiences into something of a big gay frenzy last year with their enormously charming and very much sold-out offering 'Little Shop of Homos', the London Gay Men's Chorus Ensemble – a new name; last year they were known as Far From Kansas - are back. 'Hi-De-Homo', their holiday camp-set new show, may not offer much to please fans of subtlety and nuance but those who fancy an hour of musical comedy glee in the company of a varied and talented group of gay men will find it delightful. Or at least I did.
The plot, ever so slightly irrelevant as it is, concerns Buttland's Holiday Camp's talent show, run by the egomaniacal Bruce (a terrifically caustic Stephen Wilkie), a former child star with a dubious claim to fame. Eager to reclaim the spotlight, Bruce is horrified to find that the supposedly shy and mostly mute Camp Cleaner (Johnny Kirkman, hugely likeable) may stand between him and victory in Buttland's Next Top Talented Apprentice Factor. Along the way, we meet the Camp Masseur (resident hunk Steven Whyte), who insists he "doesn't do happy endings", and various other camp Camp Staff, played with gusto by the enthusiastic ensemble, among whom Alan Wendt, hilarious in a small featured role, is a standout.
David Dellaire's direction is brisk and busy but always nicely controlled, and Simon Sharp's musical direction allows for several beautiful moments of harmony that seem to come out of nowhere. Indeed, amidst all the silly but undeniably funny gags (from a neat, witty script by cast member Richard Queripel), a mournful cover of The Smiths' "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" is really rather moving.
I left feeling that the show could probably do with one more camptastic number – mentioning a Gaga/Madonna mash-up and not following through almost seems cruel – but also thoroughly entertained, impressed, and with the sense that this band of ebullient boys may have another sell-out season on their jazz hands.