REVIEW: Club Tropicana The Musical (New Wimbledon Theatre) ★★

Club Tropicana The Musical is a new jukebox musical by Michael Gyngell. With a soundtrack of pop songs performed live on stage. Club Tropicana is described as ‘a summer adventure of love in the sun. It takes a fun-packed trip back in time to the electric 80’s when hair was big, shoulders were padded, girls (and boys) just wanted to have fun and mobile phones were shaped like bricks and weighed a tonne!’ 

When a budding bride and groom get cold feet, they each decide to jet off to sunnier climates. Little do they know however, they’ve both checked into the same hotel- the vibrant Club Tropicana Hotel. At the Club Tropicana the summer season sees drinks flowing and tans glowing. Will our young lovers decide to go through with the wedding? Will the hotel inspectors (finally) get their way and close the resort or will the staff save the day?

Starring in this “ultimate holiday musical” are Joe McElderry (X Factor winner and star of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) as Garry, Neil McDermott (Ryan Malloy in EastEnders, Eugenius!, The Wind in the Willows, Shrek) as Robert, Kate Robbins (Spitting Image, ITV’s The Imitation Game, Dinnerladies) as Consuela, Emily Tierney (Eugenius!, Wicked, The Wizard of Oz) as Christine; and former Sugababes star Amelle Berrabah making her musical theatre debut as Serena. Completing the cast are Karina Hind as Lorraine, Rebeca Mendoza as Tracey, Tara Verloop as Andrea, Cellen Chugg Jones as Olly, Kane Verrall as Blaine, Rory Phelan as Drew and a small talented ensemble. Overall the cast performed with aplomb. Vocally outstanding, they worked hard to make each song work and committed to their characters as best they could. Cellen Chugg Jones displayed his impressive tenor vocal as Olly during the opening melody and in Act Two’s Take On Me. While Kate Robbins was hilarious as maid Consuela (sans Lemon Pledge) and held the audience in her hand in every scene she stole. Nick Winston’s choreography was extremely effective and used the entire cast wonderfully. Throughout the show I found my eye wandering from the leads to watch the energetic, fun and extremely talented ensemble working extremely hard dancing up a storm.

In the producer’s blurb in the front of the programme he says “we tried to make a fun show with some great music. We are not trying to win any prizes but to give you a good night out.” Fun, the show could have been if it wasn’t for Diego Pitarch’s set which looked like it had been doing the rounds since the 80’s and appeared tired, badly constructed and cheap. The songs chosen for the production were not the greatest hits of the 80s by any means and seemed to only highlight what a weak period of music the 80s really were. The dialogue was predictable and the jokes relied on weak sexual innuendo, heavy camp gay humour and fat girl jokes. While the plot was thin to begin with, a lot of it was messy and confused characters intentions and didn’t allow any character development. Haven’t we seen this show before? Yes, it’s a misguided mash-up between Mamma Mia and Walking on Sunshine. However, does this show have an audience? Yes? Yes! The audience at the New Wimbledon Theatre were clapping along from the beginning and leapt to their feet at the end of the show. Club Tropicana The Musical seemed like an all-inclusive Butlins holiday package where you can’t leave the resort, although you sorely want to. Better enjoyed after a couple of drinks, Club Tropicana would be best suited to a hens do where Carol has had too much to drink… again. Given the plethora of really great touring shows available to this type of audience the classic Rocky Horror Show or even the over-sexed Rock Of Ages would be a better way to spend an evening than this less funnier version of Benidorm.

Club Tropicana The Musical is advertised as ‘the hilarious new feel-good show’ featuring the ‘greatest pop anthems of the 1980s’. While the show’s music is fun, the choreography effective the and cast work extremely hard, unfortunately the show lacks any real integrity and I left confused.

Camp and pantomime-esque Club Tropicana The Musical plays at the New Wimbledon Theatre through 27th April before continuing it’s UK Tour.

Reviewed by Stuart James
Photo: Darren Bell


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