Club Tropicana Brings Fun And Sunshine To Wolverhampton

If your musical tastes tend to lead to the decade of shoulder pads, Dynasty, Ra Ra skirts and Wham, then you really need to make sure you check out ‘Club Tropicana’, the bright and shiny ode to 1980s package holidays that opened at the Wolverhampton Grand last night. Full of classic 80s songs by the likes of ABC, Aha, Cyndi Lauper and Depeche Mode, and with an hilarious, scene stealing performance by veteran comedienne Kate Robbins, Club Tropicana brings fun and sunshine in spades, and had its approving audience dancing in the aisles.

Olly and Lorraine are about to get married, when Lorraine gets cold feet and jilts Olly at the alter. She decides to go on the honeymoon, not realising that Olly and his friends have also chosen to go to the same hotel, the Club Tropicana (where the drinks are free, but only the first one). The hotel is ran by Serena and Robert, an obvious couple, except Robert doesn’t seem to realise it yet, and also has a team that includes entertainments manager Garry and cleaner Consuela. The hotel is in the running for a prestigious award, but someone is trying to sabotage their chances. Is snooty hotel guest Christine really the inspector, or does she have an ulterior motive for her designs on Garry?

Club Tropicana is the ultimate in camp, feelgood fun. It is hilariously funny, sometimes rude and saucy in the way of seaside postcards and Carry On films, and the cast are clearly having a great deal of fun with it, which translates to a great level of audience enjoyment. Joe McElderry once again proves himself to be a supreme talent, his vocals are already proven, but his comic touch and ability to send himself up mark him as a theatrical light for years to come. Former Sugababe Amelle Berrabah (Serena) and her leading man Neil McDermott (Robert) are also great, almost playing their roles straight as madness and mayhem go on all around them. Emily Tierney as Christine has fun with her camp, bitchy role, particularly when she sings the classic Temptation as she tries to seduce the Miami Vice like Robert. But it is Kate the great Robbins, as the hilarious Consuela,who really steals the show, whether it be gesturing ‘I’ve got a sign’, or showcasing her inimitable range of voices (including Jim Bowen I kid you not!). Her physical comedy is just so funny, she lights up every scene she is in.

Club Tropicana isn’t Shakespeare, but it is great fun. Definitely worth a look this Spring.

CLUB TROPICANA – The Musical

30 Apr – 04 May 2019

Click here for ticket information

 

Ghost The Musical – Beautifully Heartbreaking

It is one of the most iconic movie love stories and translates beautifully onto the stage. Ghost The Musical may well be the best show you can see to open 2019 theatre season. Hauntingly beautiful, spine-chilling and heart-breaking, Ghost, which is now showing at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, paints pictures that linger in the memory long after it’s emotional finale. In short, it is a memorising piece of theatre.

 

The story is true to the film, Sam and Molly are the young couple with a perfect present and a promising future. All this comes to a sudden and violent end when Sam is murdered, seemingly in a mugging incident that goes horrifically wrong. This was the first sign of the awesome special effects that impressed throughout the musical. Sam leaves his body and runs across the stage, whilst his actual body remains on the floor. I know this film well, but even so I actually thought Sam was chasing the robber, until I glanced across the stage. Very clever and effective.

There are many more fabulous visual effects to come. The Subway pays a huge part of the movie and this is superbly conveyed through the visual images and props that are projected onto the stage. Equally impressive are the special powers of the ghosts to jump through walls and make things move by themselves.

Ghost The Musical is first and foremost a romance, and a weepy at that. But is also has great scenes of humour, and these are the ones featuring the fake spiritualist Oda Mae Brown. Portrayed hilariously by Jacqui Dubois, Oda is a powerhouse who just dominates every scene she is in. The Rita Miller bank scene is worth the admission fee alone.

The performances are uniformly excellent. Niall Sheehy is very good as Sam, you feel his frustration and pain at every turn, whilst Charlotte-Kate Warren is simply brilliant as the heart of the musical, the grief stricken, vulnerable Molly. Molly’s song ‘With You’ was an emotional high point of the first half.

The iconic Unchained Melody is used throughout the musical as a recurring motif, it signifies love and promise, terrible loss and grief, and finally the pain of final goodbyes. It retains the power to reduce even the most hardened people to tears, and typically Ghost the Musical ended with many of the audience reaching for the tissues. Beautiful, tender and tragic, Ghost the Musical is one thing you must see year.

Ghost the Musical

Wolverhampton Grand

Until Saturday 26th January

Click here for ticket information.

 

The Snowman enchants at the Birmingham Rep

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, The Snowman made a triumphant return to the place where it all started last night, when it opened at the Birmingham Rep, delighting audiences of all ages. The timeless story of a little boy whose snowman comes to life and takes him on a unforgettable adventure is a delight, and in the charming Lewis Chan, it has a truly adorable leading man.

The Snowman is based on the classic Raymond Briggs story that was later turned into a animated film that is now a perennial classic, with the beautiful ‘Walking in the Air’ as much a part of Christmas as mince pies are. The theatre version is just as stunning and memorable, a perfect combination of mime and acting, music and dance, all held together with snowy backdrops and adorable life sized toys and animals.

The Boy (Lewis Chan) is excited to see the outside world transformed into a winter wonderland, and heads outside to enjoy the snow, making a rather large snowman in his garden. When night falls and his parents are asleep, the Boy creeps out to check on his snowman. He finds it has magically come to life and starts out on a night of adventure, first in the confines of his home, and then, after ‘Walking in the Air’, in a wonderful world of Snow people and Ice Princesses and even a certain Santa Claus. But even the best of adventures have to end, with the boy flying back to his bedroom as the sun comes up on Christmas Morning. But was it all a lovely dream?

Set-Up shots showing The Snowman @ Birmingham Rep Theatre.
©Tristram Kenton 

As mentioned, Lewis Chan was simply lovely in the role of the boy. Charming and adorable in a role could be annoying, Oscar had just the right amount of wide eyed wonder and his dancing and acting were both admirable. Also wonderful was the Snowman played by Martin Fenton, who managed to be both graceful and lumbersome in his dance with the enchanting Ice Princess. The beautiful sets added so much to the story, and the moment when The Snowman and The Boy finally soar into the sky actually had me wiping tears away – a lovely, magical moment.

Set-Up shots showing The Snowman @ Birmingham Rep Theatre.
©Tristram Kenton

There are not many theatrical experiences that offer the opportunity to watch a giant pineapple, coconut and banana limbo dancing, and with a stunning ending that I won’t spoil here (clue, you usually have to be outside to experience this), The Snowman continues to delight and enthrall audiences just like it did during Christmas 1993.

The Snowman

The HOUSE at The REP

Click here for ticket and performance information.