The studio of the St James Theatre in Victoria is an ideal space for an intimate cabaret show like Jerry's Girls – the musical revue of the show tunes of Jerry Herman, which is currently enjoying a rare outing in London (the first for some twenty years) for a two-week run. Ironically, Jerry's Girls played on Broadway at a theatre of the same name 30 years ago. Jerry Herman is, after all, the quintessential composer of American show tunes, well known for the life-affirming uplifting songs from his 1960s hits Hello Dolly! and Mame which made stars out of Carol Channing and Angela Lansbury. Big-hearted women feature a lot in Herman's shows – the composer himself attributes this to his larger-than-life mother Ruth (who sadly never got to see her son's work reach Broadway), but – like his show's heroine Mame Dennis – celebrated 'It's Today!'

As well as those two hits, Jerry’s Girls features songs from Herman's La Cages aux Folles, a show about 'real people in real relationships', from his cult flop Mack and Mabel, and from Dear World which was the first of several Herman revivals on the London fringe in recent years. (Another long-forgotten Herman show, The Grand Tour, not featured, has just finished its stunning European premiere here too). And appropriately enough for a revue show, there are several numbers which Herman wrote for an early revue, Parade, as well as numbers he contributed to the musical comedy A Day in Hollywood.

Kate Golledge’s production is staged with a minimum of props on the tiny stage – a table and chairs, with the pianist and reeds player seated in the corner, and a hat-stand (obligatory for Herman shows, surely), with the backdrop featuring photographs of some of Jerry's girls, from Streisand to Merman. This minimalist approach places emphasis on the music and the three central performers, who intermingle and chat with the audience, often beginning numbers off-stage.

Of the three, Sarah-Louise Young may be less vocally experienced in the material than her two co-stars, but follows in the long-established tradition of Jerry's girls who come from the cabaret world. Young has an easy and amusing rapport with the audience, imparting information on the great man himself at various times (also conveyed via brief snippets from vintage recordings), and impersonating such luminaries as Carol Channing. Young gives great character to the title number of La Cages aux Folles, one of her solo pieces, and provides wit and finesse in the trio numbers too. Mame’s 'For We Need A Little Christmas' sees the girls donning Santa hats amidst much revelry, as Sophie Byrne – on flute – is ‘decorated’ as the Christmas tree.

Anna-Jane Casey (recently cast as Lottie in a major revival of the aforementioned Mack and Mabel later in the year) gives the expected high kicks and knockabout fun to another trio number, 'Tap Your Troubles Away', with Musical Director Edward Court dragged off the piano to join in the girls’ tapping in one of many moments of pure joy in seemingly organised chaos. Casey – also a former Mabel – brings zest and passion to 'Wherever he ain't', writhing angrily on top of the piano, but shows a quieter, more reflective side, to her usual stage persona with a well-judged 'If He Walked Into My Life' from Mame, and a reminiscent 'Song on the Sand'. She also gets the only Dear World number of the evening, the gorgeously evocative ‘I Don’t Want To Know’.

Ria Jones – who I last reviewed here in a larger-scale concert – has a natural ease in a more intimate setting, moving measurably and saying so much just by the raising of an eyebrow or hand. Jones brings her considerable musical theatre experience to bear in some of Jerry Herman's dramatic numbers, while also showing a confidently laid-back, 'less is more' approach that reveals a deep understanding of the material. Wringing the emotion out of Herman's torch-song from Mack and Mabel, 'Time Heals Everything', Jones also brings a beautiful simplicity and directness to that show's 'I Won't Send Roses'. Later, Jones gives nuance to every line of a multi-layered 'I Am What I Am' – it’s a master class in how to deliver a ‘story and situation’ song, with a true and intoxicating sincerity. And Jones reveals her lighter side in the more comedic numbers, joining Casey for the classic 'Bosom Buddies' duet from Mame – another Jerry Herman show surely due a revival sometime soon.

For Herman fans, Jerry’s Girls is a great – and rare – opportunity to hear a wide range of numbers that show how versatile a composer and lyricist he is. It also proves that there’s so much more to Herman’s output than the obligatory ‘Sunday Clothes’ or ‘Hello Dolly’. As for the newly initiated, newcomers can't help but be won over by the magic of show tunes (outside of the context of their original shows) that can never really go out of fashion if you appreciate music with joy and heart. Having seen all three ‘girls’ before, they all brought something new and exciting to the table here, and that shows the strength of both the material and the production. I can’t wait to discover which Herman show is reclaimed and rediscovered by the fringe next...