Touring – reviewed at New Wimbledon Theatre, London
Benidorm meets Faulty Towers: Club Tropicana is an entertaining, albeit predictable, night out.
Club Tropicana is the new 1980s jukebox musical, set in a sunny Spanish holiday resort. It follows the journey of an engaged couple who part ways and reunite at the hotel they had originally booked for their honeymoon. With a host of larger than life characters, including Garry the Entertainment Host (Joe McElderry), the young couple explore love, both through the people they meet, as well as themselves.
As a fan of 1980s music, I was thrilled to see how so many iconic hits were going to be incorporated into the plot of this new musical. However, much to my disappointment, it seems like the story has been written to suit the songs, rather than the other way around. The story is generic and predictable throughout, although filled with lots of laughs and pop culture references. Nothing comes as a surprise and, as a stand alone element, it is really lacking any form of substance or depth.
It is the standout performances which sells this show – namely the role of Consuela (performed by Kate Robbins). She brings a humour which feels more developed and relevant to the story – complete with hysterical impersonations of everyone from Tina Turner to Margaret Thatcher. She steals the show from the first second she has walked onstage and she has the audience in hysterics over the smallest of things. She brings life to the show and makes the experience entertaining for absolutely everyone in the room. It is a true joy to witness her expert comedic performance.
The choreography (by Nick Winston) of this show is also fabulous. It is so full out and energetic that it is exhausting just to watch. The ensemble members make their routines look effortless and it is a pleasure to see such clean and synchronised movements throughout the musical. It is also impressive that everyone is able to deliver so well vocally, whilst also performing such challenging choreography – from voice alone, it wouldn’t be possible to tell that the performers were dancing so intensely all the time. The dance is easily one of the strongest elements of this show and that would be obvious to any audience.
Set design and costume by Diego Pitarch did an excellent job of dating the piece. There could be no doubt what decade the show was in from all of the neon, big hair and shoulder pads. Likewise, it was obvious that all of the action was taking place within a hotel resort in Spain. Despite this, it would have also have been nice to have the scene changes be more drastically different in colour. Aside from furniture moving, the lobby and bar looked identical, and it would have been nice to have had the changes be more dynamic and visually evident to the audience. Although this is a minor issue which can be easily overlooked.
What cannot be ignored, is how the piece is so reminiscent of a summer pantomime. With well-known pop songs, energetic ensemble numbers, over-the-top characters, innuendos and a classic love story – the parallels were undeniable. Therefore, if you’re not a huge fan of this form of entertainment, this show probably isn’t for you. However, if you’re someone who wishes pantomimes were performed all year round, then I’m sure this would be your cup of tea.
Given that I personally fall into the former group, I certainly didn’t get as much out of this show as others did. Shows like this have audiences of people who know and love exactly what they’re letting themselves in for, and it was clear that the audience whom fitted into that demographic had an excellent time.
Overall, Club Tropicana is an enjoyable and high energy spectacle, but does lack massively in its plot. However, this doesn’t discredit its appeal for the right audience and I’m sure it will bring lots of 80s nostalgia to Brits everywhere as it tours the UK.
By Emily Schofield
Club Tropicana continues to play at the New Wimbledon Theatre until the 27th April before continuing to tour.