Updated: Jul 9, 2019
Wham, Bam, thank you mam! Club Tropicana truly delivered a fun filled evening of bright, camp entertainment. Loud, proud, and not as a careless whisper! The directors Samuel Holmes and Nick Winston took creative freedom and gave the audience Everything they want!
This rib ticklingly hilarious romp took us back to the electric 1980’s, set in the hotel of ‘Club Tropicana’, where drinks are free, after Olly (Cellen Chugg Jones) was jilted at the alter by his fiancée Lorraine (Karina Hind). Leading us along the way was the fantastically flamboyant holiday rep Garry (Joe McElderry), setting the stage alight with his incredible vocals, proving himself as the X factor star boy with the silky voice (and muscular thighs!). The Hotel is due an inspection, but is Christine (Emily Tierney) really who we think she is? Or is she out to ruin their chances?
Opening numbers for musicals are often particularly tricky to get right, and this is no exception. The writer, Michael Gyngell, was clearly battling between an up lifting 80’s hit and telling the audience the backstory and important information to proceed the plot. As a result the opening number felt quite slow, and the songs were a very strange choice for opening number (even more difficult when not using original songs). However, as soon as we left England and enter the beautiful holiday destination of Spain the mood was lifted to new heights and the audience were gripped by face-achingly perfect one liners and sexual innuendos.
Club Tropicana, the Hotel, is owned by Robert and Serena, two childhood friends. The characters were exceptionally turned out in traditional 80’s fashions. Robert was played by Neil McDermott, best known as Ryan Malloy in BBC’s Eastenders, was monumentally mirthful, his comic timing is on par with that of some of the best Edinburg Fringe comedy performers. Serena was played by Amelle Berranah, who was one (of very many) of the Sugarbabes, and the only performer on the stage to boast a number 1 single. Amelle’s vocals are truly incredible and the audience really bought into her journey as the character of Serena.
Star of the show, by a clear mile, was actress and singer Kate Robbins, playing the Hotel cleaner Consuela. Every single word that left this queens mouth was a hit, she had the audience in hysterics from her first faux Spanish noise. Her ability to deliver innuendo was truly superb, and second only to her incredibly accurate in mesmerising impressions - like the lines were written FOR her! Kate has had success in many TV shows including Phoenix Nights, Last of the Summer wine and Victoria Wood’s Dinnerladies.
The story, though extravagant and theatrical in places, was a well told comedy story which could have easily been a stand alone play. Many of the songs however, were honourable additions to the play and explained character emotions and desires in a way that words often cannot. Not all songs were needed, and some seemed ‘shoe horned’ in to pad out certain moments. It is also a risky business to recreate 80’s music with a live band playing acoustic instruments, and one I don’t believe worked. 80’s songs are known for their synthesisers (Moogs) and electronic drums (Roland 808). But without these well known characteristic sounds of the 80’s it took me (someone who is a great lover of this music) a long time to recognise most of the vintage songs. To put it bluntly, if you’re going to cram in 20 of the best loved songs for nostalgia, don’t mess around with these classic pieces of art (You wouldn’t draw a moustache on the Mona Lisa).
Bright colours and bold patterns were the theme throughout the set - and a very useful and resourceful staging meant the action was never lost and actors were able to fluidly move from scene to scene without too much interruption. The costumes were true to the time and the hair styles (though embarrassing) were a perfect representation fo the styles of the era. As a younger person who never got to experience this quintessential time period, this show was able to give me a tremendous example of what life could have been with spandex, leg warmers and neon accessories.
I was saddened to see that a whole tier of the theatre was closed and another was left half full. This musical honestly deserved a larger audience - but each and every single person I that room ended up on their feet during the bows and gave the whole cast a well deserved standing ovation. I urge, beg and encourage each and every single person to go and see this show - you will not be disappointed.
Club Tropicana the Musical is currently on tour, performed at The Theatre Royal Nottingham from the 8th to the 13th of July. The tour continues to Southampton, before visiting Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Ticket prices start at £15.