Theatre review - Club Tropicana, Manchester Opera House

Club Tropicana

Club Tropicana - Credit: Archant

Silly, cheesy hilarity with a nostalgia-inducing 80’s soundtrack, Club Tropicana is the definition of feel-good fun

Joe McElderry in Club Tropicana
Credit: Darren Bell

Joe McElderry in Club Tropicana Credit: Darren Bell - Credit: Archant

With a plot line more predictable than an 80's era Mills & Boon and more cheese than fondue night in a Swiss ski chalet, Club Tropicana is constantly in danger of tipping from laugh-a-minute fun to cringe-worthy discomfort - but the talents of the cast and the endless stream of excellent songs ensures that the audience keeps laughing for all the right reasons.

It's a straightforward plot with two main threads. Lorraine (Karina Hind) dumps fiancé Olly (Cellen Chugg Jones) at the altar and, with her two bridesmaids, heads off to Spain on her honeymoon: no sense wasting the booking, hey? Olly heads south too, and by taxi-driver error, ends up in the same hotel. Said hotel - Club Tropicana, run by Serena (Sugababe Amelle Berrabah) and Robert (Nye Rees) - is attempting to win Best Hotel in the resort and is aware that an incognito Hotel Inspector is coming to check them out. What could possibly go wrong?

Club Tropicana: Christine (Emily Tierney) does karaoke
Credit: Darren Bell

Club Tropicana: Christine (Emily Tierney) does karaoke Credit: Darren Bell - Credit: Archant

The star of the show award has to be shared between Joe McElderry - playing larger than life Garry, the holiday rep working at Club Tropicana - and Kate Robbins, in her role as Consuela, the Spanish maid-of-all-work. McElderry's voice is inarguably excellent, as he demonstrates throughout the show, but his performance as super-camp Garry, in his salmon pink suit, with one-liners and double entrendres perfectly timed and delivered, lifts the show from funny to hilarious. Robbins is also a treat and her voice fabulous enough to remind the audience of her stellar CV from the 1980's on. Consuela is marvellous and must have been a joy for Robbins to create. As well as some Fawlty Towers' Manuel-esque moments, she demonstrates why she was a key member of the Spitting Image team in the 80's with some cracking impressions, from Tina Turner to Margaret Thatcher.

Amelle Berrabah gives a marvellous rendition of Only You, while suspected hotel inspector Christine, a sequin-clad, shoulder-pad wearing man-hunter played brilliantly by Emily Tierney, does a great turn on the karaoke and demonstrates fine breath control while participating in a brilliantly choreographed dance, as she seeks to seduce hotelier Robert.

The jokes flow thick and fast throughout the show, and the storyline follows exactly the path you would have it follow, but the songs are what make the atmosphere push up though the roof and have the audience just twitching to leap up and dance, which we get the opportunity to do at the end, with a medley the whole room can sing along to. Judging by the flushed faces and happy chatter of departing crowds, this is a night out that won't be forgotten in a hurry.