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Club Tropicana a Wham bam knockout at Eden Court with incredible performances from Kate Robbins and X-Factor winner Joe McElderry alongside fantastic performances of 80s classics like Take on Me by a-ha and Addicted to Love by Robert Palmer

By Kyle Walker


Club Tropicana

Eden Court, Inverness


YOU would think that a jukebox musical featuring the biggest and cheesiest hits of the 80s called Club Tropicana might have, well, Club Tropicana.

You would be mistaken – there is nary a note of the beloved Wham banger, just an occasional wry note that at the titular club where this stylish musical is set, the drinks are free. Some of them, at least.

However, that might be the only 80s classic that doesn’t appear in this big, camp, gleefully tacky night out at the theatre. Everybody else appears – from ABC and Depeche Mode to Yazoo and Cyndi Lauper.

Its story is a simple enough yarn. A young bride leaves her would-be husband at the wedding altar, but both end up at their intended honeymoon destination – the Spanish resort of Club Tropicana, where the childhood friends who run it are dealing with their feelings for each other and an important upcoming hotel inspection that could make or break the hotel.

We know where this story will go from the moment it sets itself up – the hotel will win its award, the couples will get together and there will be much clapping and aww-ing throughout.

Where Club Tropicana delights is in its grace notes, in its willingness and desire to be really silly and fun, as well as canny with where and when it uses its needle drops for maximum effect – as in the hilarious attempted seduction absurdly set to The Lion Sleeps Tonight.

All of the cast know what heightened sensibilities this show is trucking in, and gamely raise themselves to meet it. The young married couple-to-be at its heart – Cellen Chugg Jones as Olly and Karina Hind as Lorraine – are both delightfully wholesome and wonderfully talented singers. A late-show slow, soaring duet of Take on Me proved one of the shows highlights.

But if there were two who steal the show, it would be Joe McElderry as club rep Garry and Kate Robbins as cleaner Consuela.

In a show that is already offering consistent laughs, Consuela stands out as a comedy character – Kate Robbins nails the indifference, the catchphrase “I have a sign” (it makes sense once you see the show) and a series of eerily accurate impersonations.

And Joe McElderry proves that it isn’t just in TV talent shows where he has the X Factor, proving a constant beacon of light and breezy charm throughout. His singing voice is as fine as ever too, attacking songs like Just Can’t Get Enough and Addicted to Love with relish.

The latter was a duet with former Sugababe Amelle Barrabah, excelling in her first musical theatre role as lovelorn Serena, one half of the Club Tropicana’s ownership.

And that’s your dividing line, basically – do you want to see a lavishly camp musical where X-Factor winner Joe McElderry duets with a former Sugababe on a Robert Palmer song? The audience at Eden Court definitely did, as the standing ovation at the end attested to.

And in this reviewer’s opinion, there are two kinds of people in this world – people who desperately need that in their lives, and liars.

Club Tropicana runs at Eden Court until Saturday night. For more info/tickets, go to www.eden-court.co.uk

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