MusicalReviewSouth West

I Should Be So Lucky – Theatre Royal, Plymouth

Reviewer: Kelyn Luther

Book and Director: Debbie Isitt

Music and Lyrics: Matt Aitken, Mike Stock and Pete Waterman

With 13 UK number 1s and more than 100 UK Top 40 hits, is it any wonder that the back catalogue of Stock Aitken Waterman (SAW) was mined for a jukebox musical? The creative team of SAW dominated the charts from the mid 1980s-late 1980s with pop classics like ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’, ‘Love in The Third Degree’, ‘Respectable’ and of course the title song, ‘I Should Be So Lucky’. Writer and director Debbie Isitt has wisely selected from the love em’ or loathe em’ earworms so the audience gets all the songs they want, plus some hidden gems.

The loose plot is a clear attempt to emulate Mamma Mia!. Bride Ella (Lucie-Mae Sumner) is jilted at the alter by Nathan (Billy Roberts) so she goes off on their honeymoon to Turkey without him, taking her friends and family along for the ride. Nathan instantly realises he’s made a mistake and rushes off after her, with his best friend Ash (Giovanni Spanὀ, providing the lion’s share of the show’s many laughs). The plot of Mamma Mia! is Shakespearean in comparison to I Should Be So Lucky and the characters are paper-thin, but the show wisely embraces its preposterous nature, never trying to wring deep emotional narrative from light pop songs, and focuses on the comedy (which is very much at the panto level- Turkey being misheard as Torquay and Ella’s nan losing a vajazzle). Having said that, Kayla Carter as the bride’s best friend gives a poignant Broadway belt to ‘You’ll Never Stop Me From Loving You’ and Melissa Jacques as the bride’s mum’s rendition of ‘Tell-Tale Signs’ achieves the successful integration of pop song into stage musical.

Despite strong performances from all the cast, the performance highlight is from Kylie herself, who appears via video throughout the show as a fairy godmother for Ella to regain her self-confidence. It is a fun way of tying SAW in and the song list includes many of Kylie’s best early-career tunes.

Tom Rogers’ set is loud, cheesy, camp and romantic, comprised of one large heart plus various heart shapes sprinkled into all the sets and props throughout. It is the perfect backdrop for the SAW tunes and the show’s crazy comedy.

Overall the show leaves you smiling- the cast maintain high-energy performances throughout and the show’s raucous party atmosphere perfectly captures the SAW magic. Were it not for the feeble plot and lazy characterisation, this would have been a four-star show.

Runs until 9 December 2023 and continues on tour

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The Southwest team is under the editorship of John McRoberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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