Described as Hairspray meets Swing Kids, Todorovksy has crafted an epic musical about Soviet era dissidents, kids that would flaunt conservatism to dress like crazy cats and dance to the pop music of their day.

Superficially, this is a kids-against-the-system tale, but underlying it is a fairly sophisticated political message. Much more akin to Moulin Rouge, the director has taken post-Glasnost rock and reappropriated the songs, tweaked the lyrics, and set them against a previous time period. This juxtaposition of styles and musical forms against the drab locales of the Soviet period provide a context for questions about liberty, self expression, and the desire for freedom.

There’s a telling moment towards the end where, coming back from the “real” New York, one of the ex-Hipsters points out that these Russian kids would be laughed at on the streets, that the fashion has passed them by, their sense of revolution now old-hat in the land from which it originated. This is a telling moment, one beautifully executed.

Yet, soon after, clearly not knowing (or caring) how to bring the events to a close, a glorious 10 minute closing number breaks out on the street. A single shot with hundreds singing and dancing on the streets, a variety of “tribes” of youth, from punks to rastas, from goths to headbangers, all sing of the unity of their expression of freedom.

The music’s fun, the production design top notch, this unexpected little treasure was an absolute joy.