THEATRE ROYAL PLYMOUTH – 16 MARCH 2019
CLUB TROPICANA – THE MUSICAL
RUNNING TIME 2 HOURS AND 5 MINUTES – 1 interval
Theatre Royal Plymouth Box Office – 01752 267222
REVIEW – CORMAC RICHARDS – 11 MARCH 2018
There is patently an audience for a show like CLUB TROPICANA-THE MUSICAL – many rose to their feet and cheered and applauded during the MEGAMIX of the finale – I, however, am not one of that number. Juke Box Musicals have been all the rage for some years and some work, most don’t.
Set at a holiday resort in Spain, the staff are worried about an undercover hotel inspector and everything climaxes with a man dressed in as a Spanish woman performing flamenco. Bizarrely this was also the plot of BENIDORM – LIVE! which I reviewed at this theatre in October. A mystery! The other mystery is that the one song you would expect to hear in a 1980s themed musical called CLUB TROPICANA is, well, Club Tropicana by Wham! from 1983 – but it isn’t in the song list.
What you get here are 25 1980s songs with a paper-thin plot worked around them, a script punctuated by humour for the lowest common denominator and 2 dimensional characters who shout their way through their lines – add in outdated sexuality stereotyping, wobbly sets and 6 dancers who look lost on a large stage and you will get the idea. It is not good.
Leading the cast is former X Factor winner Joe McElderry who is obviously happy enough to promote the tired image of a limp wrist and a walk which makes him look he’s had an accident. McElderry is not an actor and is not sufficiently talented to add anything to this character except surface camp. It is annoying and verging on the offensive. The highly experienced comedienne, Kate Robbins, is given a platform to show off her well-known impersonations and belting singing voice – other than that she gurns her way around the stage in a variety of costumes sticking two fingers up at people – hilarious!!!! Not. In fact, none of it is funny – packed as it is with tired jokes and lewd references.
The rest of the cast play their cardboard cut-out characters who have no redeeming features. The show is so badly written that you never really know who is who, and, to be honest, you don’t really care.
Songs are put over ok and the band, who are live on stage, perform well and at full volume.
I can only assume that writer Mark Gyngell ran out of ideas after committing the title to his laptop and that directors Samuel Holmes (who doesn’t seem to have a programme biography – but on research it is the very talented musical theatre actor last seen in Plymouth as Lord Farquaad in SHREK) and Nick Winston (also the choreographer) quite simply didn’t know what to do with the material they were given.
I am afraid shows like this devalue theatre and are taking up space which is keeping something much better out. Yes, many will say they loved the show – but why not offer up some quality.
In his programme note, Producer Mark Goucher says ‘We are not trying to win prizes…’ I wouldn’t be sure you won’t – this is already my favourite to win worst show of the year.
AMMELE BERRABAH – SERENA
CELLEN CHUGG JONES – OLLY
KARINA HIND – LORRAINE
CALVIN HUDSON – ENSEMBLE
MEGAN LOUCH – SWING
NEIL MCDERMOTT – ROBERT
JOE MCELDERRY – GARRY
REBECCA MENDOZA – TRACEY
JOSHUA PERSON – ENSEMBLE
RORY PHELAN – DREW
NYE REES – ENSEMBLE
KATE ROBBINS – CONSUELA
CAMILLA ROWLAND – ENSEMBLE
CHRISTINA SHAND – ENSEMBLE
COURTNEY-BROGAN SMALLEY – ENSEMBLE
EMILY TIERNEY – CHRISTINE
TARA VERLOOP – ANDREA
KANE VERRALL – BLAINE
WRITER – MICHAEL GYNGELL
DIRECTORS – SAMUEL HOLMES & NICK WINSTON
CHOREOGRAPHY – NICK WINSTON
SET & COSTUME DESIGN – DIEGO PITARCH
LIGHTING – TIM DEILING
SOUND – BEN HARRISON
MUSICAL DIRECTOR – CHARLIE INGLES