Tuesday, 25 June 2019
THEATRE REVIEW: Club Tropicana - Venue Cymru, Llandudno.
I just love everything about the '80s, the music (my own '80's vinyl collection gets played often) the general vibe, the bright vibrant decor and fashion...Oh and the hair, the hair! With this in mind I headed to Venue Cymru in my bright pink pumps which in fact a cast member was wearing the exact same ones, so I was obviously on the right '80s track. This old time girl was ready to be wowed with some retro and kitsch coolness. Straight away with the opening sequence Fantastic Day, I knew I was going to be taken on a wonderful musical journey covering some great nostalgic songs with hip moves that would make me blush and with many a laugh in between.
Club Tropicana, whilst not to be taken too seriously, is for me pure '80's magical cheese, you can groove in your seat and soak up all the energy and as producer Mark Goucher says is.. “A nod to the fun that young people had in the '80s. Going abroad for the first time and believing everything was possible. Each generation believes that they ruled the world..” Well this production definitely ruled its audience as we were putty in their hands getting up on our feet doing our best dance moves no sooner had the curtain gone up! When love seemingly fails and Olly played by the very commendable Cellen Chugg Jones is jilted at the alter by Lorraine played by a very energetic and likeable Karina Hind they both unwittingly end up at the same hotel, The Club Tropicana Hotel, a 1980s answer to Love Island. Drinks flow and we are introduced to a wide mix of characters and their love lives (or lack of in some cases). The cast is led by Joe McElderry (X Factor winner and star of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat), Neil McDermott (Ryan Malloy in EastEnders, Eugenius!), Kate Robbins (Spitting Image, ITV’s The Imitation Game, Dinnerladies), Emily Tierney (Eugenius! Wicked, The Wizard of Oz) and former Sugababe star Amelle Berrabah, making her musical theatre debut.
McElderry, who plays the somewhat over-the-top and dramatic club rep Garry, is perfect in this energetic and dynamic role. He shines in his '80s pastel costume and shows us his flamboyant side with some great comedy timing all along with an added dose of cheeky charm! We get to see a bit more that we bargained for that provoked a loud cheer from the audience! Hotel staff including former Sugarbabe Berrabah and McDermott work great together as a couple who are on their own ‘will they, won’t they’ journey and both gave strong performances and had a great stage presence.
The '80's musical hits were all hits of their own with the packed audience and each one was met with enthusiasm with everyone in the full auditorium singing along. We were greeted to Christine played by the ever so adept Tierney, who is a superb all-rounder with her talents in singing, dancing and acting, especially of the comedic variety! Indeed if there’s one role I’d have my own beady eyes on, it would be hers - what a great character to play! As soon as she walked in, dressed in a bright red '80s powerhouse dress, I thought well I think I’m going to like this one! A superb performance from Tierney.
The stand-out performance for me comes from the utterly hilarious Robbins who plays Spanish maid Consuela. Robbins had myself, along with the audience chuckling away with her various impressions and she got funnier and funnier each time she appeared on stage. She’s also very good with special signs!
It’s the music that draws everyone in here at Club Tropicana, you just can’t help but tap those toes and get nostalgic remembering those all-time greats which amongst others included: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Physical, Addicted To Love, She Drives Me Crazy, Just Can’t Get Enough, The Lion Sleeps Tonight, Making Your Mind Up and Take On Me amongst many others. It’s a true feel-good watch, the set and costume design, by Diego Pitatch, are brilliant and really do create that 80s ambience with bright neon lights, pastels galore, hot pink mini skirts and big hair to accompany some impressive dance moves which are choreographed by Nick Winston. Winston who also co-directs Club Tropicana with Samuel Holmes, has created a fun masterpiece of happy vibes with a love story and baddies which truly makes this an epic, bright, beautifully over the top, adventurous, '80s event!
To quote Producer Goucher once more..“We are not trying to win any prizes but to give you a good night out” Well a good night was certainly had by one and all!
Reviewer - Mary Fogg
on - 24/6/19