Club Tropicana – Review – Hull New Theatre
Club Tropicana – Review
Hull New Theatre, April 2019
by Rachel Howard
You know that feeling when you walk into a theatre wearing all your best 80s clobber and realise everyone else forgot the memo? No? Just me then…
In fact, it wasn’t just me, it was my friend too, and we had mistakenly thought that more people would’ve donned their neon t-shirts, crimped their hair and rocked their leg warmers for the opening night of Club Tropicana The Musical. Fortunately, we weren’t phased by such things and as we took our seats at Hull New Theatre, we hoped that the packed-out audience’s enthusiasm would make up for their lack of wardrobe creativity.
As the curtain went up, we very quickly realised we needn’t have worried. Within minutes the lead star Joe McElderry (X Factor winner, 2009) had everyone up on their feet learning a Macarena-style dance, setting the scene for a seriously energetic couple of hours.
Club Tropicana is not, as many may think, a Wham! tribute show. In fact, there isn’t one Wham! number in the show. I can only think this must be down to a copyright issue, but don’t fear – the music selection is definitely not lacking in this production. In fact, if it wasn’t for the level of sheer talent on stage, I’d go as far as to say the music was the star of the show. But that would be a lie because this cast is something a little bit special. More of that later…
The storyline is a simple one – Christine jilts Olly at the alter; both are persuaded to go on holiday to Spain with their friends, separately. But of course, they all end up at the same hotel – Club Tropicana – run by Serena and Robert, ably assisted by Garry and Consuela. Throw in the possibility of a hotel inspector visiting, not to mention a couple of love stories, and you’ve got yourself the perfect basis for a musical.
“Natural stage presence”
Joe McElderry is a revelation in the role of Garry, the uber-camp hotel worker. Not only are his singing and dancing skills fantastic, his rapport with the audience, comic timing and personality shine through to make him a joy to watch. The other stand-out performance is from the ever-brilliant Kate Robbins playing Consuela, the Spanish cleaner. Political correctness goes out the window with this character but she draws the biggest laughs of the night with her signing, impressions and mannerisms. Amelle Berrabah (The Sugababes) and Neil McDermott form the secondary love story as the two hotel managers whose longstanding friendship creates a will they/won’t they situation. Again, natural stage presence abounds and they both bring their characters to life beautifully.
Alongside the main players, special mention must be given to the ensemble cast. The singing, dancing and acting in this production really is world class. It’s always a risk performing so many well-known and well-loved songs but that risk massively pays off here. Their versions of classics including ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’, ‘Addicted To Love’, ‘She Drives Me Crazy’ and ‘Relax’ are fantastic, and the crowd can be heard singing along at numerous points during the show.
“A fun night out”
The stage set isn’t the most technical or complex that I have seen for a touring show, but it really doesn’t matter. The cast are so fantastic that you barely notice what is going on around them. The costumes are absolutely typical of the decade – making my friend and I feel much more at home in our get-up! Dungarees, Miami Vice-style suits and ra-ra skirts are aplenty, and it just helps to set the scene for that classic 1980s Spanish holiday that so many of us remember.
By the time we reach the finale, even the most sombre-dressed audience members are up on their feet dancing and singing along to a mega mix of all the decade’s greatest hits. This really is a fun night out, with some absolutely stellar performances. So grab your stone-wash denim, backcomb your hair and get your blue eyeshadow at the ready – you’re in for a treat.