Frank’s Closet may not have aspired to be groundbreaking, with its simplistic ‘music hall musical’ concept, but it is a fun, kitschy little show that became a cult classic in 2009 when it opened at Hoxton Hall. Fifteen years later, its revival at the Union Theatre feels less daring – its campness no longer that camp in 2024 – but in exchange, gains deeper poignancy.


Set on the eve of Frank’s wedding to Alan, the audience is invited into Frank’s closet, a ‘fantasy world’ housing his collection of dresses belonging to seven gay icons. Unfortunately, Frank is forced to give them up to make space for his fiancé, both literally and metaphorically. One by one, the divas manifest, offering Frank advice through songs – pastiches, impressively crafted by Stuart Wood.


While this concept risks getting repetitive, each visitor earns her stay, especially as Luke Farrugia is an absolute delight, playing each one in turn. Whether channelling the sass of Julie Andrews while spouting out Sound of Music references, or crooning a heartfelt 11 o’clock number about love as Judy Garland, Farrugia exudes magnetism and charm. Supporting all the action are the four Gaiety Girls, who provide tight vocals and choreography, but also individual flare.


Andy Moss as the titular Frank is not as vocally robust, but this works in his favour. Unlike the original staging, in which the role was portrayed as a flamboyant emcee (and oddly played by a woman), Moss displays more vulnerability and apprehension, providing a more honest interpretation.


In some ways, this makes up for the lack of depth to Frank’s story. Despite new material, his backstory treads common ground: playing with dolls at a young age, growing up in a small town with no access to gay culture, and of course, the hypermasculine father figure. While it would have been nice to have gone deeper, Moss’s disarming gawkiness manages to foster a good connection with the audience, and contributes to the newfound sincerity of this production, without compromising its energy.


Adding to the fun are the comedic romps in the theatre’s bar before each act with a Sheila Blige, brought to life by Paul Toulson. How she fits in with the story is beyond anyone’s guess, but it is all part of creating an immersive welcoming atmosphere. Now with additional scenes and an interval, the show also gets to breathe more, giving weight to each moment, culminating in a tender resolve between Frank and Alan. And here, the message transcends mere self-acceptance, delving into the notion of eschewing labels entirely – to simply be and to love fully.


While some moments struggle to land, and the score occasionally suffers due to its reduced band of three players and frequent sound balance issues, the flaws do not linger. It is a production held together by ‘starlight and glue’ (to reference the programme), which is part of its appeal. It is a harmlessly chaotic musical with a cartoony set and high-camp costumes, but amongst all the madness in the world right now, it offers a much-needed respite into a fantastical realm where you can spend two hours rooting for a man to get to keep his dresses.