20/12/2013 09:38 GMT | Updated 19/02/2014 05:59 GMT

Arts Review: In Vogue, St James Theatre

I'll admit it - I'm a Madonna fangirl so the thought of spending an evening at a cocktail bar listening to her hits was a dream come true. Yet more than that, In Vogue, a one-man show from one of Australia's biggest music theatre stars, is entertaining, funny and surprisingly touching.

Michael Griffiths performs as Madonna - but with no accents and no wigs. Instead, accompanying himself (or rather, herself) on the piano, he leads us in a journey through Madonna's life and its reflections in her songs.

As Michael tells his tale - all in the first person as Madonna - from her early beginnings in New York, through the highs and lows of her career to her less than settled personal life, he weaves in all the hits. And my, Madonna has had many, many hits.

Papa Don't Preach, Ray of Light, Vogue, Borderline, Hung Up, Material Girl, Dress You Up, Human Nature, Open Your Heart, Frozen... They're all included. And there are plenty more played on this great musical journey.

And when it comes to the Queen of Pop, Michael knows his stuff. Yes there were the classics but how great it was for him to weave in some of the less well-known tracks such as Cry Baby, Future Lovers and the beautiful Sondheim-penned song Sooner or Later.

As Michael romps through Madonna's life in the spotlight, nothing is out of bounds. Her less than illustrious film career, the Sex book, her man-eating reputation... It's all laid bare, so to speak. Michael is very funny with a great dry delivery but it's also clear he has a great respect for the subject of the show.

Madonna takes herself very seriously as an artist and Michael sends this up more than a little with poetry readings of some of her less celebrated lyrics (the awful rap interlude in American Life anyone?)But there's also the necessary acknowledgement that from Madonna's talents have also come some of the finest pop songs ever recorded.

Michael's breakdown of Express Yourself, explaining in simple technical terms how it is quite simply a masterpiece, was done brilliantly and with plenty of healthy respect. His performance of Like a Prayer was awesome and his tender interpretation of Like a Virgin as an ode to Lourdes, Madonna's eldest daughter, was a genius interpretation worthy of the woman herself.

And the Studio at St James Theatre is a perfect venue for the show. Most cabaret venues are shabby and in dire need of attention - often palmed off as part of their 'charm.' However when you find a venue as warm and inviting as the Studio, that excuse does begin to wear a little thin.

Wood panelling, great acoustics, cocktail bar, dozens of black and white glossy photos of stars from the silver screen on the walls, dark wood tables... The Studio has such a great atmosphere and really is the best stage for In Vogue where intimacy with Michael as he played and chatted with us - both as Madonna and as himself - was essential.

Who knows what the woman herself would think of In Vogue? Maybe she would be hyper-sensitive at the more mocking aspects but I expect, similar to the implicit message of the show, that all she really cares about is that we're still talking about her.

And we still are.

The Studio, St James Theatre, London

To December 22, 2013