Postcards From The 80s
At Club Tropicana drinks are free. Well, for Wham they are. For everyone else your first complimentary cocktail is free; the rest you pay for. When it comes to “Club Tropicana The Musical” those expecting an endless cocktail of posing pretty boys and posturing pretty girls dancing to a cool 80’s soundtrack might want to manage their expectations. Sure there’s lots of prettiness on display, the dancing looks great, and the soundtrack is cracking. But “Club Tropicana The Musical” walks and talks more like Hi De Hi: The Panto rather than Miami Vice or a Wham video. A package holiday, Carry On romp with lashings of crude, rude postcard humour, “Club Tropicana The Musical” trades cool for kitsch and proves outrageous and endearing for doing so.
In Michael Gyngell’s libretto, the 80s jukebox gets the Mamma Mia/Rock of Ages makeover as a barely credible story provides a flimsy backdrop for a cracking good night of 80s nostalgia. Built around a couple who get cold feet on their wedding day, they both end up staying at the same hotel, the eponymous Club Tropicana, trying to get over it. But the hotel’s owners have their own problems, including an award they desperately need to win, a hotel inspector in their midst, a sinister saboteur trying to ruin their chances, and their own love lorn issues to resolve. In the end will the look of love come to the aid of those too shy to relax? Or will temptation prove too strong even for those addicted to love? You're likely not to really care: but you're gonna love the fun and the music.
If “Club Tropicana The Musical” awkwardly shoe horns several tracks to make them fit, it does so with such good humour you’d forgive it almost anything. Visually, Diego Pitarch’s set and costumes display the garishness of a hungover 80s drag queen who slept in her clothes and left her make-up on. Yet it all ensures laughs and energy for being so unapologetically kitsch. Partially helped by a plethora of cheeky innuendo gags, of the bum burps and boobs variety, that come hard and fast and which keep pace throttling along. Something director Samuel Holmes keeps a steady rein on, for the most part, once the bumpy opening is eased past. One in which a sharply choreographed routine by Nick Winston is blocked from view. Which proves an exception to the rule - the blocking, not the routine. For Winston’s choreography is hard working and smart, doing a lot at the right moments but knowing how to conserve energy while executing sharp, sexy, and energised sequences. Vital indeed, for “Club Tropicana The Musical” boasts one of the hardest working dance troupes to be seen anywhere. They simply never stop. And they never flag, not even a little.
Similarly with performances, which are often defined by an exuberance of energy and over the top humour, resembling stereotypes rather than characters. Joe McElderrry as holiday entertainer Garry might play camp personified but he proves hilarious in the traditional style, channeling Nathan Lane bitchiness with stunning vocals. Emily Tierney is a treat as Christine, channelling the real bitchiness, and shoulder pads, of Joan Collins’ Alexis Carrington, while Neil McDermott charms as Robert, looking like Don Johnson’s distant cousin. Vocally most prove strong, though one or two could use some polish. Not so Amelle Berrabah as the long suffering Serena, whose singing is simply sublime. As is a stunning duet between Karina Hind and Cellen Chugg Jones as the nervous lovers Lorraine and Olly; along with Tara Verloop’s impressive rendition of Call Me. A superb Rebecca Mendoza as the lioness Tracey risks upstaging everyone. Yet the real star of the show is the scene stealingly brilliant Kate Robbins as the maid with the signs, Consuela. An absolute delight, Robbins’ singing, impressions, and exquisite comic timing are worth the price of admission alone.
If voices struggled to be heard at times, and lights were poorly managed, technical issues detracted only a little on occasion. Indeed, a major technical issue during the second act which stopped the show produced the most memorable moment of the night as the Dublin audience took voice and spontaneously began singing along to Tainted Love while waiting for the issue to be resolved. Evidence “Club Tropicana The Musical” had already done its job. A glitzy, glamorous spectacle, “Club Tropicana The Musical’s” tacky car crash of 80s garishness might be a three star show, but it's a four star experience. It won't advance the cause of musical theatre, nor is it likely to follow its 80s themed predecessors from stage to screen. Yet as an infectiously funny, feel good night of 80s nostalgia “Club Tropicana The Musical” is a sheer joy. You just can’t get enough.
“Club Tropicana The Musical” runs at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre until August 3.
For more information visit Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.