Tuesday, 2 April 2019

REVIEW: Club Tropicana at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking

Club Tropicana was a 1983 hit for Wham and reflected on the then boom for cheap package tours for singles under thirties and Michael Gyngell has taken the idea to write a musical based around the music from eighties set in Club in Spain. Strangely the song itself does not find its way into the show itself. The story line is very thin; Fawlty Towers Hotel Inspector meets Benidorm Live with Manuel replaced by Mrs Overall from Acorn Antiques. Indeed, very little of this production was original. Yet the audience of mainly middle-aged women loved the show who clearly wanted to escape a night in front of the TV listening to Brexit with their families!

The energetic young cast throw themselves into the show and the songs, said to be “20 of the Greatest 80’s hits”, if anything it reminds you that the eighties were not the greatest era of music! Often, we are not even given the full song, just short verses or background music while some piece of slapstick pantomime business is performed downstage. Whereas the “Rip it Up” shows seek to celebrate the music and the era, this show is a massive mickey take full of camp gay references and old-fashioned innuendo. When the girls order drinks, they are asked if they want a tight snatch or sex on the beach, the conveniently named cocktails and one young character declares “I am ready to have sex with anyone”. 

The plot involves a jilted groom going with his mates to the same hotel that his expected bride had booked for their honeymoon (curiously the sign switches the hotel name from Club Tropicana to Rio Grande for no obvious reason) only to be reunited in a recreation of the game show Blind Date while dressed as one of the Village People!

The show headliner is X factor winner Joe McElderry playing the Butlins red coat type character as a cross between John Inman and Ted Bovis from Hi-Di-HI in a pink blazer. He has a childish charm and projects his enjoyment revelling in the role as he skips across the stage and in the final moments of the show with the Frankie Goes to Hollywood 1983 song “Relax” and into the “Megamix” (as in Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat which has recently played) he brings the audience to their feet to finally get the party started.

Kate Robbins is Conseula, the shaky waitress who does a very good turn in impressions including 80’s female icons Tina Turner, Shirley Bassey, Margaret Thatcher and Cilla Black under the pretence of Fancy-Dress night. Her physical comedy is good, and she does a fun routine to the 1980’s theme tune of the TV series Minder, “I could be so good for you” but she deserves a better vehicle for her talents.

Another 80’s hit given the makeover is Bucks Fizz’s “Making you mind up” with the roles reversed and the boys having their shorts ripped off to reveal enhanced Union Jack underpants. Two of the best numbers are the three young girls Lorraine (Karina Hind), Tracey (Rebecca Mendoza) and Andrea (Tara Verloop) doing the Cyndi Lauper 1983 hit “Girls just want to have fun” and Serena (former Sugababes Amelle Berrabah) and Robert (Neil McDermott) as the hotel owners in the 1982 hit for Yazoo “Only you”.

This is a cheap looking touring show with a poor sound mix on its first night in Woking, a rickety poorly painted set and scruffy lighting which as it evokes the style of the Eighties provides a fun, hen party style night out which at least releases us from the tedium of more Brexit votes in Parliament.

Review by Nick Wayne

Rating: ★

Seat: Stalls Row K | Price of ticket: £32
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