Monday, 22 July 2019

“Stepping Out” BY Richard Harris
Lace Market Theatre
It’s Thursday night and Mavis, a former professional chorus girl, along with the accompanist Mrs Fraser is getting ready to meet her tap dancing class. Like many a class of this type, the ‘pupils’ are a mixed bunch. There are your loud ladies like Maxine – always able to get things for people at cut-down prices – Or Rose getting over her hair disaster with a wig and sequined trainers – and salt of the earth type Sylvia. Then there are the quieter participants Dorothy, Lynne and Andy, the latter being a bit of an enigma to the others. And finally, there is Geoffrey, recently widowed and the only man in the group.
Everyone is different but they have a common interest in tap dancing so meet up once a week for a lesson. The group has been together a while and everyone, on the surface, seems to get one with each other. Tonight is a bit different though as there is a new person joining the team. Tall, thin and well dressed with a refined accent, Vera has arrived like a hurricane for her first lesson with Mavis and her first encounter with the Thursday night regulars.
As the rehearsals roll on Mavis must mediate the personal dramas that unfold among this mismatched but loveable troop on their ambitious way to the big finale.
We’ve all seen Les Dawson at the piano, playing the wrong notes ( Les was actually a very good pianist) , well I have it on good authority that it’s harder to be able to do something well but give the impression that you can’t do something and make it look, not as good as it could be. I know that most of these actors are quite adept at a bit of hoofing, so it must have been a bit of a task to perform the dance sections “badly” when being able to dance well. This “journey” for the class though makes that pretence, up to the big finale even more heart-warming.
Everyone in this play gets their chance to shine as we discover little bits of their individual characters and back story throughout the show.
Danielle Hall (Mavis), who is also the choreographer for this production, and may I say does a wonderful job of the choreography, after all she is a trained dancer herself. Her portrayal of Mavis is so well done that you can actually picture Danielle as a dance teacher away from the stage. I've seen Danielle dance in productions before but seeing her this close really highlights what a talented dancer she is, and that is not just performing as Mavis.
Sarah Taylor (Mrs Fraser), for me gets the starring role. I love this character and Sarah, while not looking as if she is absolutely relishing this part, I just know that she would be as it is a dream of a role. Mrs Fraser is a bitter woman with some brilliant acidic quips and some lovely comic lines, but oh what a wonderful ending for her. I love this character and I love how Sarah played her.
Charlie Bailey (Lynne) gets to play a quieter role in Lynne, but I love the support that she provides the others, especially Dorothy. Lynne is one of those characters that you would naturally get on with in a class like this. A lovely played down role by Charlie.
Anne Mccarroll (Dorothy) is one of my favourite local actors because she puts so much character into whatever role she takes on. Dorothy is one of those roles where you can let the personality shine without crowding any other character. Dorothy is a trier and I love the way that she triumphs over her own self doubts to be a real team player, and Anne really draws that trait out of this character.
Arwen Makin (Maxine), I don't get to see on stage as often as she should be, and this role as the eager to please "trader" of goods is loud, brash, a little bit naughty and cheeky is a brilliant role for Arwen, and you can see the fun that she is having on stage. Maxine seems to have either a permanent smile or a pout on her face, but later in the story, like the other characters, we discover that this confident exterior has it's cracks.Oh and I love the hair, Arwen!
Amanda Cropper (Andy) plays the quietest of the roles in this play, but while being one of the less upfront characters, she also manages to stick out. Just follow the little clues that this character provides to see what is going on in her life and why she is the way she is, and the reason why she goes to tap classes. Amanda builds this role up nicely and her performance in Act Two comes as a slap in the face moment.
Stephen James (Geoffrey) can tap dance in real life, and I know that he is perfectionist, so for him, he may have had one of the hardest jobs; dancing as a novice and getting things clumsily wrong when it goes against the grain of what he, and every other dancer is taught to do right. You instantly fall in love with this character and his back story. there is a certain fragility with Geoffrey, a bit of a Roy Cropper (Coronation Street) character who can be teased without knowing most of the time, and possibly a little scared of some of the women.
Joanna 'Joey' Hoyes (Sylvia) is another actor I love to see on stage and this role just made me howl.Sylvia is naughty but is lovable with it, she is sarcastic and says the things that we all wished we had the nerve to say. Sylvia is depicted as a bit of a gal, but we learn that she is very loyal to her partner, and you cross her at your peril. I've seen Joanna in some brilliant character driven parts, and this is another one of them.
Liza Pybus (Rose) is another wonderful character actor and gets to show off her accent skills in this part. Liza plays this role quite different to the way it was originally written as Harris wrote the part for a black actress. Liza has therefore had to change the character slightly to play to her one comedic strengths. Undertones of being the outsider as well as the underdog in many ways, Liza reminds us that, even if this is the case, Rose doesn't see herself as either and gives a lot of self belief and strength to Rose.
Sara Heafford (Vera), I think may be a new name to me, it's definitely her debut for the Lace Market Theatre, but what a wonderful role to debut in. Vera is one of those people who wants to take charge straight away, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. Likewise with what she says; she certainly puts her refined mouth into action before engaging that middle class brain. The audible gasp from the audience when she tells Sylvia that she was once as big as Sylvia, just after having her child. Sara has wonderful comic timing and is a natural comedy actor who I really hope we get to see more of on the many Nottingham stages.
Bex Mason is Director as well as Set Designer and has certainly managed to bring out the very best in all of her cast with this season finale.
Allan Green’s Lighting Design and Jack Harris’ Sound Design are both inobtrusive but well noted by me. The sound cues were spot on, especially with the piano sections.These and the lighting cues should never be noticed by the audience but at the same time be noted, as when they are noticed, it's normally not intended to be so. Jack also gets an unseen part in this production as well, but no spoilers from me on that one.
I must also mention the amazing costumes. Linda Croston has pulled these costumes out of the bag, so to speak, especially those for Vera, and I loved the suit for Mrs Fraser.
A wonderful, energetic and heart-warming end to the current Lace Market Theatre season. A season which has never wavered from being most entertaining and brimming with talented actors. I can't wait for the new season as there are more goodies on the
It’s now becoming the norm that the productions at the Lace Market Theatre are sold out before their opening night, and this is another show that has done just that. If you want to see this season closer, and you don’t have a ticket, it may be worth contacting the box office for ticket returns/cancellations, as that will be the only way you’ll be able to enjoy this wonderful and fun show which closes on Saturday 27 July.

Monday, 15 July 2019

“Avenue Q”
Nottingham Theatre Royal
“Avenue Q” tells the story of a bright-eyed college graduate named Princeton. He arrives in the city with big dreams and a tiny bank account, He has to move into a shabby apartment on Avenue Q, due to his financial constrictions. Still, the neighbours seem nice. There, he meets Kate, Lucy, Rod, Trekkie, superintendent Gary Coleman (yes, that Gary Coleman) and other new friends! Together, they struggle to find jobs, dates, and their ever-elusive purpose in life, not helped in the least by the very naughty Bad Idea Bears!
The show is like The Muppets/Sesame Street, but is definitely NOT for the kids due to some of the content of the show, but will strongly appeal to anyone who loved shows like “South Park” or even “The Inbetweeners”, so from mid to late teens
upwards. I find it’s always best to know your kids and their maturity levels before deciding if this show would be for them. That said, the comedy is aimed for adults with a childish sense of humour, but is incredibly funny, albeit puerile.
There are however some really quite serious messages in the show. Homelessness,friendship and coming to terms with one's sexuality create the more sensitive side of this musical, and you could hear from the audience's reaction that they bought into these storylines and the characters that were involved
I’ve seen this show several times and still love to go back and see it again; it’s that funny, and the funnies are laugh out loud funnies.
Even though these characters are puppets, it doesn’t take you long to focus more on the puppet character than the puppeteer and that is when the magic this show radiates start to come to life for the viewer. This in itself is a massive tribute to the actors who control the puppets in channelling their skills through the puppets to make us believe in what they see on stage; almost like a magician’s sleight of hand in influencing us as to where to look and react.
Puppetry, when it is done correctly is a major art form. Your arms ache at having to keep them at a certain angle and the co ordination between what is being said and the mouth of the puppet is a lot harder than you'd imagine. And that is just working with one puppet. Two actors working one puppet
requires great co ordination and faith in your partner to make everything look as smooth and as "human" as possible. Not forgetting that these are very talented actors, singers and puppeteers who have to choreograph the movements of the puppets as well.
Directed and choreographed by Cressida Carre and designed by Richard Evans. The set is different to the touring productions that I have seen previously which gave a fresh appeal to me, who has seen the show before, and that alone gave me new enthusiasm for this naughty but very nice, heart warming show.
The non human stars of the show were created and designed by Paul Jomain who seemed to have inbuilt certain personality traits into the very fabric of them. How do you manage to get Kate Monster to look sexy drunk as well as so sad in the space of a few scenes?
Great sound and lighting as well as some deliciously wicked nods to "Sesame Street" with the TV work on stage.
The songs are catchy - I bet you are singing or humming many of them for days afterwards. the band under the musical direction of Dean McDermott was superb.
It's very naughty in places and the most un PC show you’ll see, but it’s also one of the funniest shows you’ll see, that is as long as you have a sense of humour and not that easily offended.
“Avenue Q” is at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 20 July.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

“Jesus Christ Superstar” by Tom Bond Amateur Productions
St Mary’s Church, Lace Market, Nottingham.
Before I start, this is meant in no way as disrespectful of any other production of this show that I have seen over the last few years, but this production is the best that I have seen to date.
Local theatre company, Tom Bond Amateur Productions, in arrangement with The Musical Company Ltd, have brought the story of the last few days of the life of Jesus through Judas’s eyes, to a place of worship, which in itself brings a completely different feel to the production, a kind of new respect for the story.
There can’t be anyone who doesn’t know this story but Tom has introduced an immersive element to the production where,on arrival, the audience are welcomed with bottles of wine and fresh fruit already on the tables, which was traditional fare in ancient Jerusalem. Even before the show starts, you’re completely enveloped by the whole feel and it really gets you in the mood for one of the most performed and most loved of musicals.
St Mary's Church is a beautiful church and the lighting and the acoustics really create that special atmosphere where respect should be shown, not only to the building but to the story, and the actors telling the story.
Andy Quinn reprises his role as Judas and, I know I say this every time I see and hear Andy perform, but he gets better and better and his voice gets stronger. His passion for this role is shown with every movement and every word he sings. He does not just sing these songs, he performs, and feels the songs. This is my second time of seeing Andy as Judas, and I thought I'd seen the best performance he did at Mansfield, but this immersive performance gave him more freedom with the character, making it even better than I'd seen him before. Topping an Andy Quinn performance is always going to be hard but when it's done by Andy Quinn... what can I say?
Andy is surrounded by an amazing cast, many I'd seen before, but every one of them seemed to have been injected with some magic that brought out the very best performance an actor can ask for. Every one delivered passion, and that showed on their faces and the fire in which they performed their songs.
David Hawker (Caiaphas), his voice was almost unreal with his bass tones. He demanded you listen to him, and we all did.
Andrew Buxton (Annas), I last saw as George in "Hair", and I though he was great in that show. This performance showed another side of him that I had not noticed before. As the blood hungry Annas, his faced looked like a rottweiler about to devour his prey - and I mean that in a complimentary way to his acting skills - , his manic angry looks were really quite alarming. The fire and blood lust in his eyes were quite scary! Needless to say, his vocals are excellent and really highlight his rock vocal talents.
Zain Abrahams (Jesus) brought a very soulful tinge to the vocals which in turn made the character softer, but when the scene came where he was clearing the traders you got to hear the other side of Jesus, the angered side. "Gethsemane" has always been one of my favourite musical theatre songs and Zain absolutely nailed this song. You could feel Jesus' search of his soul for the understanding of why he was being asked to die, and then the coming to terms of his fate was emotional to say the least.
Jessica Bridge (Mary), I don't think that I had seen before, but I am now a fan. Her voice oozed calm and controlled emotion, and again, possibly the best performance I have seen of this character. She completely tugged at heartstrings when she implored in "I Don't Know How To Love Him" and the gorgeous duet with Peter in "Could We Start Again Please".
Samuel Ward (Peter), is another new actor to me, and again a passionate performance from Samuel and his duet with Mary was so well matched vocal wise.
Benito Preite (Pilate) again showed me something I'd not seen in Benito before. Fire and passion, and I can't remember ever hearing him sing so powerfully and with such emotion as he did in this production. Like all these incredible actors, he climbed within the skin of the character and morphed into the role. Like Andrew he really acted with his face and we felt Pilate's frustration and anger with Jesus.
And finally, another young actor who again has raised his acting bar. I have seen Lucas Young in many roles over the years and have loved everything he has done. In his role as King Herod, which we all know is camp, Lucas delivered the most campest of performances and the whole audience absolutely loved it, giving him a massive show of appreciation after "King Herod's Song", and he still amazes me how he gets those high kicks and splits in heels, but then again, he is an incredible dancer.
A wonderful ensemble swelled the choral sounds and fleshed out the other characters like guards, merchants, lepers, reporters etc.
Musical Director is Tom Bond, who left the baton for this last night in the hands of another, whose name I also didn't get but did an incredible job with the band. The acoustics in church are beautiful and amplified the perfect sound created by this musical combo.
The lighting for this show was also perfectly designed to highlight not only the actors in the best light, but also the beautiful features of the church. At one stage the giant cross above the stage was flooded in blue light and gave an eerie feel over the whole church.
I also loved the costumes which were similar to the original film version, which I felt respected the performance space. Herod's costume was the sort that would not look out of place at Nottingham Pride, lots of gold body glitter paint and hot pants that Kylie would be proud to wear.
I've never seen an immersive version of "Superstar", and I was told afterwards by Heather from the media team, that this was the first time this had been done. Maybe this is why I enjoyed this production as I did. "Superstar" is, and always has been, one of my all time favourite musicals - it was the first soundtrack I bought on the old Music For Pleasure record label when I was just a kid, so has always had a special place in my heart. All these years on, this group has made me love this musical even more.
I've had the greatest of pleasure tonight telling the people around me all about the previous roles of many of the actors I know in this cast, and confirming what talented people they all are, they didn't need any confirmation by the end of this show.
I said on the way out that you don't need drugs to get yourself buzzing, just see a show like this. What's the buzz? This show and this cast, that's the only buzz I need!

Friday, 12 July 2019

“Sister Act” by Spotlight Theatre Company
Nottingham Playhouse
“Sister Act” is the feel-good musical smash based on the hit 1992 film Featuring original music by Tony, and eight-time Oscar winner, Alan Menken (Newsies, Beauty and the Beast, Little Shop of Horrors), this uplifting musical was nominated for five Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
When disco diva, Deloris Van Cartier, witnesses a murder, she is put in protective custody in the one place the cops are sure she won't be a found: a convent! Disguised as a nun, she finds herself at odds with both the rigid lifestyle and uptight Mother Superior. Using her unique disco moves and singing talent to inspire the choir, Deloris breathes new life into the church and community but, in doing so, blows her cover. Soon, the gang is giving chase, only to find them up against Deloris and the power of her newly found sisterhood.
Filled with wonderful music, outrageous dancing, “Sister Act” leaves you feeling euphoric. I left the theatre feeling like I'd been plugged in to a charger for the last two hours, practically skipping to the bus stop, I felt so energised by this production
Grace Hodgett-Young (Deloris), well what can I say? I could just say "WOW" but why say one word when a hundred would suffice. I can remember seeing Grace a few years ago on the Nottingham Arts Theatre stage and loving her confidence and her voice. Skip forward a few years and here she is blowing the roof off the Playhouse with that incredible voice she has. Grace has swag and attitude and this part fitted her so well, and that applause she received on her final bows rose by decibels, and she deserved every single second. And can I also say that she looked fabulous in those wonderful costumes.
Lizzie Fenner (Mother Superior) swaps one powerful woman (last week as Roxie Hart in "Chicago") for another woman with power. Lizzie channelled her inner Julie Andrews for the clipped and oh so proper accent, and her voice is just so clear and controlled, And that worked so well in the song "I Haven't Got A Prayer" because you heard every word and every comical line in that song it really is heavenly.
Holly Neil (Sister Mary Robert) is another woman with an incredible voice. Sister Mary Roberts big song, and I do mean BIG, is "The Life I Never Led" and she gave me goosebumps with the high notes in there. It was not the only time Holly gave me goosebumps with her singing in this show. Her powerful vocals soared.
Laura Thurman (Sister Mary Patrick) oozes fun with this role, again perfectly cast, and once again a powerful voice with an infectious smile.
Kimberley Allsopp (Sister Mary Lazarus), so full of mischief and fun, so who else would be playing this role? Only Kimberley.
Mike Pearson (Monsignor O'Hara). Normally I see Mike on stage in a frock, so this is a slight departure, and it's great to see Mike in such a lovely role. O' Hara's facial expressions when the Nun's choir emerge after Deloris has been working with them was a joy to behold.
Adam Collishaw (Curtis) is the baddie of the show, and he looks the part. Tall and imposing, you would not like to meet Adam, as Curtis naturally, in a dark alley!
I love the trio of henchmen who work for Curtis, Ray Samuel Mcleod (TJ) is great fun to watch - nice to see he stole some of my dance moves. Liam Arthur Petruccio-Hall (Joey) and Patrick McChrystal received a massive round of applause with their song "Lady In The Long Black Dress", which is one of my favourite songs from this show
Stan Cook (Eddie), who I last saw as Romeo in "Romeo & Juliet", channels a bit of a romeo in this role as well. I loved his main song "I Could Be That Guy", and the staging of this number was done really well with the costume changes. I won't spoil it for you if you plan to see the show on Saturday, but it's different to how I've seen it done in the past. Stan has an old school voice and suits this song well, and it's always good to see a character go from zero to hero and get the girl at the end.
I feel that I need to mention all of the ensemble and others individually so here goes; Harriet Hopkins (Sister Mary Martin of Tours), Laura Ellis (Sister Mary Teresa), Ellie Monterosso (Michelle), Beth Wear (Tina), Daisy Donoghue, Charlie Evans, Lucy Greig, Emma Gregory, Erin Hanby, Maddie Keown, Madelyn Pritchard, Lily Proudlove, Rachel Smith, Kemi Stewart, Zoe Turton, Tilly Wishart, Louis Barnes-cupitJonah Williams and Joseph Smith - who gets to play an altar boy, a policeman as well as a drag queen - I'm so impressed with his walking in those heels!
Directed by Matthew John and this is his first musical theatre piece he has directed; can I just say that this man can do anything he puts his mind to as this was a roaring success; that's all I need to say as it's well documented in past reviews just how high esteem I hold Matt. The legend that is Amanda Hall is producer for this show.
Sophie Petruccio-Hall also debuts as choreographer. Again Spotlight shows what an incredibly talented group of people they have. The choreography was spot on and very exciting to see this mass of people carrying out the dream of the choreographer. They made me want to dance.
Geoff Burnhill is Musical Director for this show and I love the soundtrack, and hearing this wonderful soundtrack by Alan Menkin and Glenn Slater played live, with such punch and clarity is all down to the Musical Director's hard work with the cast and his band.
Lighting Design is by Tom Mowat, so the lighting is guaranteed to be the best quality, which it is. Rob Kettridge is responsible for the Sound Design, again guaranteed to be crystal clear, which it was as I could hear every single word of this show.
There are many set changes in this show and the stage managers did a sterling job at getting all the bits and bobs on and off unobtrusively.
I've been very lucky lately to have been able to see several local theatre shows that have been on a par with any touring professional show. This is another one of them.
I sat in my seat with a fixed smile on my face all the way through, because that is what this show makes you do, smile! The story of belief in yourself and others and friendship makes you feel all warm inside, as if you're in an Andrex ad, but without the Labradors.
I made sure that I was first to my feet at the end and my lead was very quickly followed by every single person in that theatre. An audience who showed their appreciation of the talent on stage continuously throughout the evening.
I've had the pleasure of reviewing Spotlight shows for a few years now and every show is of an increasingly excellent standard. Forget the bar to be raised, Spotlight have bypassed that and left it behind and productions like this are of the standard that all local theatres should match or aim for.
As the prophet Hozier once said "Take Me To Church" because these sisters really rock!
“Sister Act” is at the Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 13 July.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

“American Idiot” by MT Experiments & Creatio Arts
Derby Theatre
“American Idiot” is the story of three boyhood friends, Johnny, Will and Tunny, each searching for meaning in a post 9/11 world. The show features the music of Green Day with the lyrics of its lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong and book by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer.
The production is directed and produced by Matt Powell, assistant Directors are Adam GuestAndrew Bould and Rachel Bates, choreographed by Charli Richardson Astle, with musical direction by Anna McAuley, Musical and Band Director is Tom Watkins, sound design by Harry Greatorex, set and costume design by Ana Gabriela Webb-Sanchez and lighting design by Tom MowatMatt Powell also designed the video back drop. As you can see there is a lot of talent involved, even before we get to the stage. .
Creatio staged this musical a few years back but this is a new staging, so you’ll see a different show to the one that you last saw them produce. In fact you'll see a different show to any other staging of this rock musical.
Curtis Salmon (Johnny), who I have not seen on or off stage for such a long time, makes a welcome return to the local stage, and what a way to make a return. The main protagonist of the story. On his journey, he experiences nihilism, drug abuse, and lost love in Whatsername. Curtis' voice sounds as good on the full out rock songs as well as the ballads. You can see the fire in his eyes in his tirade speeches.
Ryan Wiggins (Tunny), He accompanies Johnny to the city, but soon joins the military and is sent to war. Tunny suffers serious injuries and loses a leg. During his rehabilitation, he falls in love with his nurse (Extraordinary Girl), and she returns home with him.
Andrew Bould (Will), plans to leave town with the group until his girlfriend, Heather, reveals that she is pregnant with his child. Will stays at home in an alcohol and drug-infused depression. Both Ryan and Will have great rock voices, and it's not everyone who can pull off a really good rock voice when steeped in musical theatre backgrounds. Both also inject a lot of soul into their vocals and passion into their roles.
Jack Readyhoof (St Jimmy) I imagined as St Jimmy as soon as I knew that he was playing this role, but seeing him bring this character alive on stage was a great piece of casting. His face on the video back drop really made him look devil-like, especially with those eyes. A playful performance, and an interesting character to play because you're never really 100% sure that Jimmy is real, or just a drugg-addled image in Johnny's head. Again some excellent vocals and attitude from Jack.
Cat Cunningham (Whatsername), Hattie Kemish (Heather) and
Alana Moran (Extraordinary Girl) all give brilliantly powerful performances, matching the attitude and passion of their male counterparts. Needless to say, their vocals are also powerful and, when required, full of attitude.
Kheenan Jones (Theo) also exercises his vocals, and it's not that often we get to hear them on stage, not as often as we should anyway. Theo is another interesting character with a slightly devilish image.
The ensemble is massive and features many well known and recognisable faces from various local stages and theatre groups, and also of variable ages. This is not just a musical for younger actors and encompasses all.
I must mention Steve Powell of the ensemble with his solo section on "Whatsername". He sounded so much like Neil Young, and when the rest of the ensemble joined in, the song took on a choral feel.
The show includes the hit songs “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”, “21 Guns”, “Wake Me Up When September Ends”, “Holiday”, “Give Me Novacaine”, " Good Riddance (The Time Of Your Lives)" and the blockbuster title track “American Idiot”. Also included are several songs from Green Day’s 2009 release 21st Century Breakdown, and an unreleased love song, “When It’s Time”.
This production is a cross being rock art and a rock concert with the power and passion on that
stage.The camera and video operator (Rachel Coleman) filming the live action on stage and projecting it to the backdrop screen really gave a a special feeling of excitement, as if you were watching some live news report. It's not a new idea but was not expected, and as I said earlier, nothing like any version of this musical I've experienced in previous production.
There were just a few issues with mics peppered about but not even that could mar anything about this show. Powerful, passionate and practically the perfect rock musical production.
And let me just say as a final note, these guys would not need to go to the gym because the physical side of this show will sweat the pounds of them; I can imagine the stage wouldn't need sweeping after each performance, it'd need mopping.
“American Idiot” is at Derby Theatre until Saturday 13 July. Don't be an idiot, get a ticket!

Monday, 8 July 2019

“Club Tropicana – The Musical”
Nottingham Theatre Royal
Club Tropicana is a fictitious hotel, the 1980’s version of “Love Island”, but with a more intelligent cast! At least the characters in the musical know where Barcelona is!
Set on a Spanish holiday resort, the show sees Garry and his staff prepare for a hotel inspection in order to be in with a chance of winning the Best Hotel of the Year prize, and hopefully beating their rival from across the bay. Meanwhile, after Lorraine leaves her fiancé Olly at the aisle, the pair find themselves at the resort at the same time
Club Tropicana sees drinks flowing, some are even free, and tans glowing, but will our young lovers decide to get back together and get married? Will the hotel inspectors finally get their way and close the resort, or will the staff save the day? All will be revealed…….
Joe McElderry (Garry) plays the Master of Ceremonies and the Entertainment boss, and you can just tell he has having a ball in this show. He is not afraid to take the mickey out of himself, even giving The X Factor a sneaky mention, albeit in another context. He is like a ball of energy exploding on the stage.The jokes are cheesy and that 100 watt smile is always on his face. His energy levels keep the flimsy storyline bubbling and you just can't help feeding off his infectious nature.
Neil McDermott (Robert) who many will recognise from playing Ryan in “Eastenders” gets to show off his dancing skills as well as a decent singing voice as one half of the Tropicana owners, along with Serena.
Amelle Berrabah (Serena), who I remember from being one third of the girl group the Sugababes, naturally gets to showcase her soulful singing voice. In the musical she is part owner of Tropicana but she has a secret crush on someone; someone who doesn't seem to know that she exists. Worry not though because this is the sort of musical that has happy endings all round.
Kate Robbins (Consuela) is brilliant as the hotel cleaner with a seemingly limited grasp on the English language - think Consuela from "Family Guy" and that is what you get in this musical. She still has a great voice and her impressions are uncannily accurate, and she was responsible for many of the laughs in this musical.
Emily Tierney (Christine) plays a brilliantly comical role. The staff are expecting a visit from the hotel inspector, and Christine seems to fit the bill, but is she all that she seems. A lot of old fashioned slapstick with this role, and the timing for this slapstick is well choreographed.
Karina Hind (Lorraine) and Cellen Chugg Jones (Olly) are just meant to be - we can all see that, and they have the highlight musical performance for me when they duet on a stripped back ballad version of Aha's "Take On Me". Both have strong and controlled voices, which is not really realised until this duet.
Rebecca Mendoza (Tracey) is a joy to watch as Lorraine's "best friend", and she has her share of some brilliant comedy scenes. Her fancy dress costume is mistaken for everything from Pirates of The Caribbean to Pete Burns from Dead Or Alive; she is dressed up as neither by the way. Her raunchy rendition of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" is classic.
Tara Verloop (Andrea) plays Lorraine's other "friend", and you can see exactly why she wanted to go to Spain with Lorraine and Tracey. She is well up for the sunshine, sangria and... what was that other thing she was after?
Kane Verrall (Blaine) and Rory Phelan (Drew) are Olly's mates. Rory never seems to be able to keep his shirt on for long, and it's not long before he is stripped down to a pair of budgie smugglers for the Tropicana pool.
Blaine also manages to find love but not from a corner that we were expecting, and it's all presented in the best and funniest possible taste. Plenty of highlights with both male characters, especially with Blaine's flamenco dancing!!
One of the songs that is sung is Bucks Fizz's "Making Your Mind Up" and they pay tribute to the Fizz's whole routine, but this time with a bit of a twist.
The soundtrack is an 80’s fan’s dream with classics like “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”, “Just Can’t get Enough”, “Oops Upside Your Head”, “Church Of The Poison Mind”, “Fantastic Day”, Look Of Love”, “I Could Be So Good For You”, “Relax” and so many more, but not “Club Tropicana” strangely enough and no Wham songs at all.
Choreographed by Nick Winston, who also Directed the show, and his choreography injected so much energy into this musical.
Fashion was also a big thing in the 80's of course and Diego Pitarch hit the nail on the head with some amazing costumes. Pitarch was also responsible for the set design.
This show will not win any awards but it’s not aiming to; It’s aim is to give their audience a great night out with some brilliant 80’s Top Tunes and to put a smile on everyone’s face and make you feel good. It brings fun and sunshine and there’s definitely enough for everyone, and as that is it’s aim, I can safely say that it succeeds.
The finale has everyone up on their feet and the energy levels from all on stage makes this show a candy floss extravaganza of cheese, and I loved it for just being fun and frothy.
“Club Tropicana – The Musical” is at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 13 July.