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REVIEW: Club Tropicana at Sunderland Empire

Mark Goucher & Gavin Kalin Present
Club Tropicana
Sunderland Empire
Monday 20th – Saturday 25th May 2019

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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 resort.

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 by Greg Arrowsmith

On The Web:
Facebook @SunderlandEmpire
Twitter @SundEmpire
Instagram @SundEmpire

Facebook @ClubTropicanaMusical
Twitter @ClubTropMusical
Instagram @ClubTropicanaMusical

Tickets available online from our affiliates ATG Tickets:   #Ad

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