MERSEYSIDE audiences clearly like films that go on to be adapted for stage musicals.

You can always pop on a video at home, but there's something special about seeing familiar characters in the flesh, so to speak.

From Dirty Dancing to Bodyguard, Flash Dance to Kinky Boots there's a healthy appetite for urban fairy tales.

Near sell out shows , like this one, prove it.

There will, however, always be comparisons with the celluloid stars.

In this case no one can compete with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere who made the movie such a blockbuster hit.

It's up to each production to stamp its own mark on the story.

In this first UK touring production - a very strong cast and ensemble complete with a live orchestra to ensure a highly enjoyable two and half hours escapism in Beverly Hills.

Suspend belief time.

We meet a call girl with a big heart Vivian Ward on the darker side of the sunny streets of Los Angeles trying to find enough money to pay the rent.

Enter Edward Lewis - a no nonsense financial broker who makes deals with other money men . . . iguanas in suits.

Edward hires feisty Vivian for a week to be his escort. Along the way the Cinderella/My Fair Lady theme shines through.

There's a clever night at the opera sequence and some scenes from the film recreated with extra sparkle and the original witty dialogue.

Vivian (on the Liverpool dates) is played by accomplished Elly Jay and multi-million pound asset-stripper Edward by Oliver Savile.

They have the right chemistry and both handle the subtle sexy scenes well.

Surprisingly there is a rather subdued close to the first half before the lights go up.

Both Elly and Oliver have powerful voices for the theatre - especially one as grand and sweeping as the Empire.

Ballads and up-tempo numbers come from Canadian rocker Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance.

They are not as instantly hummable as the original soundtrack but they help the narrative along perfectly.

Anywhere But Here and Freedom being two solo highlights for Elly and Oliver respectively.

There's some fine supporting roles throughout - notably Noah Harrison's bell boy Giulio, who is from the Marx Brothers school of visual comedy.

And the versatility award goes to Ore Oduba as hotel manager and street-wise happy man.

Director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell hits a steady pace and the lighting is extremely atmospheric taking audiences to La and its palm trees.

Where better to be on a cold January night.

A finale led to a well-earned ovation as as people hummed and clapped along to Roy Orbison's iconic title song.

Verdict: Four stars - sassy, slick and stylish

The production is on until February 3.

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