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Joe McElderry returns home this week with an 80s
comedy that had the Sunderland Empire crowd laughing from the start.
A bride, Lorraine (Karina Hind) decides to call
her groom Olly (Cellen Chugg Jones) on his huge mobile phone to say she has
changed her mind. Her friends decide not to let the honeymoon tickets go to
waste and three of them head off to Spain. But, just like a good farce, the
groom's best man and his mate has a similar plan and they head off to the same
After the story is quickly set up, local lad Joe
McElderry makes his first appearance, much to the delight of the audience. Talking
directly to the audience as Garry the hotel entertainments manager, he gets
everyone on their feet for a quick dance routine.
The action then moves to the Spanish hotel
run by long time friends Serena (Amelle Berrabah) and Robert (Neil McDermott)
who are in the running for a local hotel competition that they are keen to win.
They are expecting the arrival of an inspector and are on the look out. They
quickly identify Christine (Emily Tierney) as a likely suspect as she seems to
be asking a lot of questions about how the hotel is organised.
The audience tonight are up for a good night out.
The script's humour is often wedged between 80s Carla Lane/ ITV sit-com and a
Carry On film. Add in some great choices of opening lines ('Don't leave me this way') from the 80s songs and a large section
of the crowd are getting regular laughs.
Yes, the storyline is predictable as it refuses to
deviate from a well worn direction of travel but that's not the point. This
isn't intended to be high drama, this is simply a good laugh.
Oddly enough, I didn't expect to find the show as
funny as I did. As a big fan of 80s
music, I expected the songs to be a bigger part of the show. Don’t get me
wrong, there were lots of 80s hits in there but the main source of my enjoyment
tonight were the jokes. The 21 songs supported the story rather than being
included for inclusions sake only. Some, like The Lion Sleeps Tonight added comedy. Others like Take On Me and The Look Of Love supported the story.
This is the campest role I've seen Joe in and,
along with the rest of cast, he seemed to enjoy the show and the audience
reaction. The cast worked well together on stage. The dancing and
singing was lively.
Special mention should go Kate Robbins, as cleaner
Consuela. She was well cast as the lady with many impressions. She had a large
share of the laughs and quickly established a rapport with the audience.
So, this isn't Shakespeare. You don't have to
think too hard or have to explain the jokes to your companions afterwards –
unless perhaps if they are still at school. Well paced, full of memorable songs
- this was good light hearted fun. And there's nothing wrong with that.
Review by Stephen Oliver
Book by Michael Gyngell
Directed by Samuel Holmes & Nick Winston
Choreographed by Nick Winston
Set & Costume Design by Diego Pitarch
Lighting Design by Tim Deiling
Sound Design by Ben Harrison
Musical Director Charlie Ingles
Musical Supervision and
Arrangements byGreg Arrowsmith