Heads Up: Meow Meow's Little Match Girl

Strike a pose: a Little Match Girl comes over all cabaret

What are we talking about? A cabaret show inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's tragic tale of a hungry little girl selling matches on the frozen streets one New Year's Eve. This is no maudlin fairy tale mind: it gets a modern, musical twist and glitters with dark comedy and spectacle, while also updating Andersen's social message.

Elevator pitch Matchless cabaret star is set to burn bright.

Prime movers Although conceived by its star, cabaret artist Meow Meow, the show is directed by Marion Potts, artistic director of Melbourne's Malthouse Theatre, where the show debuted. Musical director Iain Grandage has both selected the tunes (everything from Cole Porter to the Magnetic Fields) and composed original work for the production.

The stars Meow Meow, the Australian cabaret star who's gone global. Gutsy, glamorous, grotesque, rude, very funny and with a serious set of pipes, she's had sell-out shows in New York, London and Sydney. She's joined on stage by actor Chris Ryan.

The early buzz During its Australian tour, Time Out Sydney gave it five stars, and wrote, "With her frantic pace and startling energy, this modern match girl uses her deceptively simple fairy tale to question, agitate and challenge the crowd". The Herald Sun was also impressed: "Meow Meow is a delicious blend of demented cabaret artiste, dissolute whore and wayward child and her voice seduces with its rich tones and occasional bitterness."

Insider knowledge It's not her first time treading the boards in the UK; Meow Meow starred in Kneehigh's West End stage adaptation of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg in 2011.

It's great that… Meow Meow, like all good cabaret acts, is about more than just spectacle: she's called the show her "agit-prop fairy tale", as it was partly inspired by a documentary about The Oasis, a shelter for homeless children in Sydney. She aims to prove that Andersen's subject is sadly not confined to the history books.

It's a shame that… it's not for those of a nervous disposition – while part of the joy of her shows is the audience interaction (and don't worry, she doesn't bully), for some being dragged on stage is just never going to be fun.

Hit potential Bound to blaze in the dark winter nights.

The details Meow Meow's Little Match Girl is at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, London SE1 (southbankcentre.co.uk), 13 to 30 December.

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