Club Tropicana at New Wimbledon Theatre
How to describe Club Tropicana? I think to compare some elements of it to a pantomime, only set in summer, would be a fair comparison. Club Tropicana tells of Olly who gets jilted at the alter by Lorraine. Both their sets of friends decide that the perfect antidote to get over each other is a trip away and both head to Hotel Tropicana. At the hotel you meet owners Serena and Robert along with entertainment host Garry who are doing their best to win a hotel competition. The competition , along with the course of true love never runs smooth resulting in chaos ensuing at Club Tropicana.
The show is one that is able to poke fun at itself. It is all done with a playful wink to the audience, the 4th wall repeatedly broken and no situation or entendre is too ridiculous to use. Joe McElderry as Garry and his camp persona was often the target of this entendre with no gay joke left unmade. Sometimes they were humorous but often the point was made several jokes before but it continued. Whilst the show is set in the 80’s it felt like a lot of the humour hadn’t developed since then.
The show is interspersed with a selection of songs from the 80’s although they often had no relevance to the story and never really moved any action along. There was also rarely a whole song delivered, instead choosing just excerpts from the numbers. Songs included ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,’ ‘Making Your Mind Up’ and ‘She Drives Me Crazy.’ It was however missing one vital number, the title track itself, ‘Club Tropicana.’
Whilst the music may not have a huge amount of relevance to the plot each number was performed brilliantly. The principle cast were full of strong singers, in particular Cellen Chugg Jones who played Olly. 80’s pop music is often not an easy sing but his voice made it sound effortless. Amelle Berrabah as Serena and Joe McElderry also had stunning voices but unfortunately were not utilised as much as they could have been. Much of the backing vocals however sounded over produced and the show appeared to rely heavily on click tracks in the ensemble numbers.
The choreography by Nick Winston was perfect for the show with numerous 80’s moves within each number with a really fresh and energetic vibe. The ensemble were full of talented dancers and I often found myself watching them in the group numbers. The energetic feel was emphasised by the bright costume design by Diego Pitarch. The flourescent cropped leggings and crimped hair helped set the show firmly in the 80’s. It was this high energy feel throughout the show that kept the show on the right track.
Club Tropicana clearly chose to focus on the humour and the 80’s feel good vibe but as a result you felt nothing for the characters and the whole thing feels a bit vapid. You fail to care if Olly and Lorraine get back together or if Club Tropicana win the coveted best Hotel award.
Club Tropicana isn’t going to win any awards for storytelling, character development or even being politically correct however the music is fun, the choreography impressive and the costumes loud. If you go for these reasons alone and take all you see with a pinch of salt you will enjoy it but don’t go expecting anything more.
Club Tropicana is playing at New Wimbledon Theatre until 27th April. To find out more about the show and the rest of the tour visit their website.