YORKSHIRE’S connection with Bad Girls began with Claire King, once the hottest of soap’s villainous vixens in Emmerdale, starring in the prison-drama television series.

Next came the West Yorkshire Playhouse premiere of the musical spin-off in June 2006 that later made its way to the Garrick Theatre for a West End run.

Now the UK amateur premiere is entrusted to York Stage Musicals, whose hugely enjoyable production has links to both the Leeds and London shows. The very swanky projections of the prison interior come from the Garrick show, designed by Playhouse stalwart Mic Pool.

Co-written by series founders Maureen Chadwick and Ann McManus, the musical is a kitsch yet sincere revamp of earlier stories from the TV show, but with the additional oomph of snappy musical pastiches and sassy lyrics by Kath Gotts, who brings to mind Sondheim, Chicago and old Broadway too.

The programme cover of a red stiletto heel and a ball and chain in the form of a mirror ball captures the tone of a show where the women behave badly, and bent prison officer Jim Fenner (Steve Tearle) behaves even worse, in the fictional women’s prison HMP Larkhall.

The kitsch is in synch with the more serious core of the piece: the tragic arc of new prisoner Rachel Hicks (Claire Horsley), who buckles at the very sight of G-Wing, her callow youth contrasting with the hardened survival instincts of the inmates in the opening number I Shouldn’t Be Here.

Within this closed, claustrophobic environment come the inevitable character clashes between the bullying arsonist Shell Dockley (Alicia Roberts) and lesbian lifer Nikki Wade (Marie-Louise Surgenor); and, higher up the chain, the corrupt, exploitative Fenner and the reformist wing governor Helen Stewart (YSM newcomer Nassira Cheref).

The already heightened drama is further heightened by the songs, which are the driving force of John Hall’s thrilling production, with terrific duet performances by Sandy Nicholson’s Sylvia ‘Bodybag’ Hollamby and Tearle’s Fenner; Surgenor and Cheref’s wishful lovers; and in particular the handcuff hanky-panky of Roberts and Tearle.

Vicki Lightfoot’s Freedom Road is the individual highpoint of the show, while the very saucy All Banged Up finds Juliet Waters, Jeanette Hunter and Julie Harrison in camp vamping form.

Mention too should be made of the humorous contributions of Beverley Goring’s old lag Noreen Biggs and Adam Sowter’s officer Justin Mattison, as well as the burgeoning choreographic skills of Alex Papachristou and the typically sterling work of musical director Mike Thompson.

Add in a prison riot (which could be more riotous), sex, drugs and everything but rock ’n’roll and York Stage Musicals’ amateur premiere really takes off, just like the helicopter escape at the finale.

Bad Girls The Musical, York Stage Musicals, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, tonight at 7.30pm, tomorrow at 2.30pm and 7.30pm. Box office: 01904 623568.