Touring – reviewed at New Victoria Theatre, Woking
Guest reviewer: Glenys Balchin
Apprehension was in the air when I entered Woking New Victoria Theatre, I knew that I would know the songs but I was not sure it would take me back to those fun-fuelled disco electric days of the 80s… well it did sort of.
I’m not quite sure why the musical is called Club Tropicana, as apart from the name and a mention of “free cocktails”, there is not a sniff of the fabulous George and Andrew songs from the incredible Wham. However, I am a lady of a certain age and remember those days whilst a millennium baby would not, so, does that matter?
The musical has been said to parallel hit TV show Love Island, which it does not. In the 80s it was all about the music and dancing, not about drinking, talking about relationships and texting (which would have proved difficult with a mobile brick!)
The storyline is simplistic. Girl jilts her beaux on their wedding day, and they each go on a friend holiday to Spain to get over what has happened. They all stay at The Club Tropicana Hotel. Hotel proprietors are waiting for an hotel inspection in order to a win a hotelier prize but are sabotaged by a rival hotel owner. During the course of the storyline, Boy and Girl participate in a Blind Date competition where they choose each other and realise they may have made a mistake…
The cast does an admirable job of taking me almost back to the electric 80s but it is not quite the 80s as I remember, but again does that really matter?
I think that the script dictates the songs that are chosen, that’s why there is no Wham, Duran Duran, New Order, Tears For Fear, Human league, Whitney Houston, Madonna etc… because their songs do not tie into the storyline. However, the musical depicts so many other things from the 80s, the costumes for one: Ra Ra skirts, leggings, shorts, dungarees, “statement tee shirts” are aplenty on stage. The hair is big and huge mobile phones make a few appearances.
Club Tropicana is a feel-good night of entertainment, delivered by a vibrant, fun, high-energy cast who sing and dance as if their lives depend on it. I was not keen on some of the jokes which are not particularly PC nor the insulting references which border on sexist and homophobic, but I suppose that sums up the 80’s in a way.
Once Joe McElderry comes onto the stage the show comes along and takes the cast and audience into a flurry of singalong & dance routines– if only I could have got on stage for ‘Oops Upside your Head’. Joe has to be applauded for an energetic exuberant performance and for not waning once. He really leads the show and uplifts the rest of the cast.
The same can be said, for the formidable and extremely talented Kate Robbins playing Consuela, who magically plays the part. Her comic timing and characterisation are hilarious and her great voice brings a real belly laugh and applause from the audience. Emily Tierney must be complimented for delivering a strong comic performance with a great voice, as the double-crossing hotelier Christine. The voices of Cellen Chugg Jones and Karina Hind the young couple, singing to ‘I Could Be So Good For You’ are a highlight. There must be mention of Tara Verloop, Rebecca Mendoza and Kane Verrall who all performwonderfully; with Kane working especially well with McElderry as his love interest.
Club Tropicana will bring a big smile to your face, give you the feel-good-factor and make you feel young once again. Its not an award worthy musical but is certainly good fun and like a summer pantomime for adults.
photo credit: Darren Bell