Name checking one of Wham!’s greatest hits, then not performing it, or any other George Michael composition is an inauspicious start. Fortunately, the 80’s spawned a plethora of toe tapping, finger snapping, hits, many of which appear in this show on the night.
Club Tropicana is reinvented as a hotel, with a house, poolside band, who serendipitously have a well-rehearsed 80’s repertoire. Although the show is about the clothes and music there is a narrative trying to escape. Lorraine ( Karina Hind) and Olly (Cellen Chugg Jones) break up on their wedding day, but decide independently, to use the holiday anyway with their friends. Club 18-30 holidays are conjured with all the excesses, and awkwardness, of young Brits on their first time abroad.
Entertainments manager Garry (Joe McElderry) does his best to bring the estranged couple together, combining announcing with a stint as a Blind Date compere – who knows what that might lead to? A thin romantic sub plot involving hoteliers Robert ,Sugababes singer Amelle Berrabah as nervous hotel manager Serena, and the dastardly Christine, provides the opportunity for different songs and slapstick nonsense. Things do not run smoothly at the Tropicana, it is a case of Fawlty Towers meets Benidorm. If Trip Advisor had existed then, you would not be booking.
Writer Michael Gyngell triumphs in shoehorning independently written songs into a coherent story, with a surprisingly generous helping of laughs, and slapstick comedy.
80’s music cognoscenti will guess many of the songs in advance, a wedding? Fantastic Day. A break up? Don’t Leave Me This Way. A romantic decision? Making Your Mind Up. What I did not expect was some very enjoyable ensemble choreography, most of which is heavily and recognisably lifted from 80’s music videos with vim and style by Nick Winston. The musical arrangements are variable. “Making Your Mind Up”, “Only You” and “Relax” are terrific. Others, notably “Temptation” and “Addicted to Love”, are not.
The star turn for me is Consuela, delightfully played by Kate Robbins, the long suffering, all seeing, put upon cleaning lady whose comedy, singing, and voice impressions add vital quality to proceedings. Although it is a cliched, standard, theatrical device, she carries off the part with style, and panache. A great character part.
The costume department excels with colourful dance wear at the disco, hairstyles culled from “The Face” and clothes from Chelsea Girl and Top Shop. Find your back copies of “Smash Hits” to mug up on the lyrics, and have a great time. A very well attended opening night had a ball on a show short of substance, but full of heart. Cheesy as hell, it is performed with brie -o…
Club Tropicana runs until Saturday 4th May