Club Tropicana – Bord Gais Energy Theatre – Review
by Fran Winston
30 Jul 2019 – 3 Aug 2019
Runs until August 3rd. Tickets from €18.50
Named after the ionic Wham song (which ironically doesn’t feature here) this show clearly states that it’s not trying to win any prizes, they just want to give you a fun night out. And from the off they definitely do what they say on the tin as X Factor winner Joe McElderry bounces out on the stage in character as holiday camp rep Gary welcoming everyone to the “resort”. Peppered with twenty classic 80’s tracks from the off the emphasis here is very much on fun.
The plot is flimsy – a woman jilts her fiancée on their wedding day and jets off on the honeymoon with her friends. Conveniently, he and his friends have the same idea and they both find themselves at the Club Tropicana where the drinks are free (well, the first one) and the staff are in a tizz about a mystery hotel inspector. Thankfully this isn’t about the plot, it’s about the nostalgia. The team behind it absolutely want the audience to relive all their 80’s memories and aside from the music this is littered with references that only true 80’s kids will get.
The cast completely get behind the cheesy script and their energy never dips. Yes, there are plenty of clichés here – including the Spanish maid who impersonates famous people to make the hotel look busy (brilliantly played by Kate Robbins who, in another 80’s throwback, wrote the theme tune to TV show Surprise Surprise) and McElderry’s Gary is straight from the John Inman school of camp. However, because this show has no pretensions it actually works.
The focus here is very much on the music and the audience on the night I attended knew every single lyric and sang along with gusto. The tracks include Take On Me, Don’t Leave Me This Way, Only You, Fantastic Day, Just Can’t Get Enough and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun so there is quite a variety and, thanks to advertising and movies, pretty much all of them will be familiar even if the 80s wasn’t your decade.
While they don’t feel as shoehorned in as the songs often do in Jukebox musicals, I did find myself wondering on a couple of occasions was there perhaps a better song for that moment. And in a couple of instances they didn’t adjust the gender in the lyrics so that it was appropriate to the scene (although this could have been a slip on the part of the actor). Overall though the music works and will have you tapping your toes and singing along.
If there was any doubt that the crowd loved it on the night I attended there was a brief technical glitch about 15 minutes from the end. They lowered the curtain and played 80s background music which saw the entire theatre on their feet singing along and dancing away, keeping the party going for the few minutes it took them to fix the issue.
This is like Fawlty Towers meets Hi-De-Hi meets Benidorm. It is great fun and will leave you with a smile on your face once you don’t try to overanalyse it. It’s not trying to be anything that it isn’t and if you take it as it is intended you will have a very enjoyable night.