Writer: Book by Michael Gyngell
Music: Greg Arrowsmith
Director: Samuel Holmes & Nick Winston
Choreographer: Nick Winston
Reviewer: Sue Collier
The narrative for Club Tropicana – The Musical is very simple. Serena jilts Olly on their wedding day, and they each go on holiday to Spain, accompanied by their friends. Lo and behold, they both stay at The Club Tropicana Hotel. An anticipated hotel inspection is sabotaged by a rival hotel owner. A version of Blind Date is played to determine the outcome of the young couple’s love story.
Iconic music of the 1980s is woven around the story. However, it is the impression of this reviewer, that the songs were selected primarily for their titles, and a fair number of hits are only partly sung. While there is no doubt that Joe McElderry can carry a tune, his vocals are sadly under-used as he plays aHi-De-Hi type entertainment officer. Strangely enough, the one obvious song missing from the show is George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley’s classic hit Club Tropicana.
The experience is similar to watching a pantomime, as there are plenty of pantomime-type scenarios, however, there is little sense of investment in the characters, and, as a result, we feel no depth to them either.
To be fair, there is light relief supplied in the pleasant comedy of Kate Robbins in the role of Consuela. Robins goes a long way to really holding this show together, with somewhat of a pantomime dame style performance. Nick Winston’s choreography is light-hearted, fun, energetic and entertaining. The costumes are very colourful and truly representative of the era (as are the awful flamboyant hairstyles!). Watching the girls in their shoulder pads, dayglo orange tutus and matching leggings makes one glad that fashion has changed significantly since the 1980s.
There are a couple of significantly uncomfortable issues raised within the dialogue. Political correctness has changed our expectations of language and character portrayal for the better over the decades. In this production, there is too much crude emphasis on camp homosexuality and curvy girls. This outdated humour needs addressing.
This production is rather like watching a sadly less funny, 1980’s, musical version of the television programme Benidorm. Half way through act one, itchy feet are already in evidence. The show draws to an end with cast members bowing to lacklustre applause. Then Joe McElderry comes to the front of the stage and invites the audience onto their feet to clap before asking them to scream if they have had a good time. Is this a standing ovation, or is it audience manipulation? Uncomfortable.
Reviewed on 4 February 2019 | Image: Contributed