Theatre Review: Club Tropicana The Musical (UK Tour) - New Wimbledon Theatre ✭✭✭

Club Tropicana: The Musical

New Wimbledon Theatre

Review by Emma Curry

The 80s had so many fantastic pop tunes that it was surely only a matter of time before someone created a jukebox musical including all of the classics. Club Tropicana: The Musical is a new show from Michael Gyngell which is currently bringing sun, sea, sand to London at the New Wimbledon Theatre, with an added 80s twist.

The show is set at Club Tropicana, a fictional Spanish hotel where the sun always shines and the drinks are free (at least the first ones). The story moves between the team that run the hotel – best friends Serena and Robert, who are played by ex-Sugababe Amelle Berrabah and ex-Eastender Neil McDermott, and master of ceremonies Garry, played by X-Factor winner Joe McElderry – and the hotel guests, hapless couple Olly (Cellen Chugg Jones) and Lorraine (Karina Hind), who should be on their honeymoon if only they could work out how they really feel about each other. Cutting across both storylines is Emily Tierney, playing the villainous hotel inspector (or is she?) Christine.

Interspersed with the action are a huge range of 80s classics – there’s ‘Relax’, ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’, ‘Jump’, ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’, ‘Take on Me’, ‘Making Your Mind Up’, and many more (although not, curiously, ‘Club Tropicana’). The song and dance routines are high energy and there are plenty of slapstick visual gags which had the audience in stitches on the night I saw the show, particularly from Kate Robbins as the hotel’s sassy Spanish maid Consuela.

The cast involved are all hugely talented – although he made his debut on The X Factor Joe McElderry has a fantastic musical theatre voice, and there was also some very impressive vocal work from Cellen Chugg Jones and Amelle Berrabah (I was amazed to read that this show is her stage debut). It’s a shame, then, that the show’s material doesn’t quite live up to the promise of its cast. Although the show is aiming for broad, bawdy fun, many of the gags and stereotypes felt really outdated to me. The show is aiming to pitch itself somewhere between Love Island and a Carry On film but its characters and storytelling seem to lack heart, and the links between the songs and plot are rather thin. There are several moments where the action begins to drag a little, and it required huge amounts of effort and charisma from the cast (particularly McElderry) to keep the energy up.

Despite these reservations, however, the show is still a fun night out for reliving some of the best pop songs of the decade, and for witnessing McElderry’s skill as a frontman. Pop your shoulder pads and legwarmers on, take a few cocktails along, and ‘Relax’!

Three stars ✭✭✭

2019 Tour Dates

23 - 27 April
Wimbledon New Theatre
Box Office: 0844 871 7646

29 April - 4 May
Grand Theatre
Box Office: 01902 429212

6 - 11 May
Belgrade Theatre
Box Office: 024 7655 3055

13 - 18 May
New Theatre
Box Office: 01865 320760

20 - 25 May
Empire Theatre
Box Office: 0844 871 3022

28 May - June 1
Grand Theatre
Box Office:01792 475715

3 - 8 June 
Opera House
Box Office: 0844 871 3018

11 - 15 June 
Box Office: 0844 871 3014

17 - 22 June
Marlowe Theatre
Box Office: 01227 787787

24 - 29 June
Venue Cymru
Box Office: 01492 872000

1 - 6 July
Box Office: 0844 871 3017

8 - 13 July
Theatre Royal
Box Office: 0115 989 5555

22 - 27 July
Mayflower Theatre
Box Office: 023 8071 1811

30 July - 3 August
Bord Gais Energy Theatre
Box Office: +353 (1) 677 7999

5 - 10 August
Eden Court Theatre
Box Office: 01463 234 234