Club Tropicana whisks you back to when big hair and shoulder pads were the norm – a Mamma Mia for the 80’s. This is pure entertainment at its best – great music, great vocals and dancing, hilarious outfits – all tied together with a comedic bow!
Girls just wanna have fun – and this girl certainly did at the Opera House last night! I spent my teenage years listening to the likes of Frankie goes to Hollywood, Blondie, Adam and the Ants, A-ha and this show whisked me back to my youth. Big hair and perms in the plenty, mobile phones the size of bricks, Miami Vice suits (with the cuffs turned up) and cocktails with outrageous names all feature in this fabulous show!
We first join bride-to-be, Lorraine who is getting cold feet just minutes before her wedding to Olly, and then decides she cannot go through with it, calling the whole thing off. Devastated, but both of course wanting to make use of their honeymoon, their friends convince them to holiday to hotel Club Tropicana – and as in all good love stories, they will meet there later. Club Tropicana is a Benidorm/ Butlins-esq hotel run by owners Serena and Robert who have their own unrequited love story, where an anticipated hotel inspection is sabotaged by a rival hotel owner. At the conclusion of the show, a version of Blind Date is played to determine the outcome of our young couple’s love story.
Nick Winston’s choreography is light-hearted, fun, energetic and entertaining. The costumes, designed by Diego Pitarch, are very colourful and truly representative of the era. Watching the girls in their shoulder pads, dayglo lemon leotards and matching leggings makes me so glad that fashion has changed significantly since the 1980s. There are some wonderful nods to the iconic bands of the day, I will let you Make your own Mind Up! Rebecca Mendoza’s performance of The Lion Sleeps Tonight is a must-see!
The entire cast is very strong, from the lycra-clad ensemble who don’t stop dancing for the entire show, right through to the main characters. Karina Hind (Lorraine) is fabulous as the bride-to-be. Her vocals are superb, and dancing is reminiscent of a Madonna in her prime! Cellen Chugg Jones also shines as Olly, with superb vocals (listen as he hits the high note in A-ha’s Take on Me) and rocks his Village People outfit! Hotel owner Serena is played by Amelle Berrabah (1/3 of the Sugababes), who delivers the vocals you would expect, but is also a surprisingly good actor!
The star of the show is of course, Joe McElderry, playing our camptastic host, Garry. His energy is contagious, and he gives his all in this performance. His vocals are fantastic (just wait until he belts out Relax), as is his ability to engage the audience throughout. He remains in character from start to end in his pink, flamingo-embroidered jacket! His routines with dance partner Blaine (played by Kane Verrall) are wonderful, especially when they try their hand at a spot of flamenco!
Hot on Joe’s heels in terms of great performance in Kate Robbins, who plays our Mrs Overall-like house keeper, Consuela. Her skills in timing and mimicry have the audience laughing out loud, and the outfits she keeps re-appearing in are hilarious and wonderfully reminiscent of 80s icons. Her Dolly Parton costume is a sight to behold!
The musical arrangements for the show by Greg Arrowsmith are clever, as one song seamlessly merges into another and fit Michael Gyngell’s dialogue perfectly. The show is high energy throughout, where Nick Winston manages to choreograph some of the iconic moves of the 80s, with a background reminiscent of the Green Goddess and Mad Lizzie’s workout routines!
By the end I was on my feet, dancing away with the entire audience in-between standing ovations from the whole Opera House. and the Manchester audience absolutely loved it last night with everyone up on their feet at the end.
This wonderful show is a real gem and has got massive potential for a Sing-Along version in the future.
Club Tropicana is at the Opera House, Manchester from 3-8 June 2019. See website for full tour details.★ ★ ★ ★ ★