Penned by Michael Gyngell, the same writer who adapted the stage version of Summer Holiday, this is a show which surprisingly hits the mark during turbulent times. Even the usually restrained audiences of Inverness are happy to sing and dance along with the hits of the 80s; some even dressing up for the occasion with shorts, flowers and sparkly lights.
With a predictable plot line (think Benidorm) and stock characters aplenty (think Hi de Hi), this show cleverly weaves the hits of the 80s with snappy dialogue to craft an engaging and fast-moving musical. All of which is admirably delivered by a professional team of dancers and singers including a star turn for every character. A highlight is a wonderful comic performance by Kate Robbins as Consuela, the ancient put-upon maid. Using her repertoire of impressions and costume changes, she steals the show.
Leading the cast however, as entertainment captain of a typical three-star Costa hotel is X Factor winner, Joe McElderry. His camp personality, golden voice and winning smile set the tenor for the show from the start. He invites the audience to stand, dance and sing along to Fantastic Day as the curtain rises on a wedding ceremony. As a personal refugee from Essex, the dialogue and the characters are familiar. A clever scene change reveals the hotel foyer and the story begins to unfold. This involves unresolved romance, a hotel inspector, mixed messages and, of course, the couple and their friends ending up at the same hotel.
Backed by a five-piece house band, every character gets to tell their story through an iconic 80s pop song. There are talent shows, look-alike competitions and a flamenco show. Driving along the action is a strong ensemble of six dancers complimenting the songs with all the iconic moves of the era. It is difficult to single out any one of the cast as they all deliver strong professional performances without a glitch. Never are the songs milked for applause, instead they serve only to drive the narrative.
The show is directed and choreographed with verve by Samuel Holmes and Nick Winston and the musical arrangements by Greg Arrowsmith recreate the 80s sounds perfectly. As producer Mark Goucher says in his introduction, ‘Sit back and let the show wash over you. Remember a time that wasn’t half bad.’
If it lands at a theatre near you this show will give you a good night out.