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Tropicana - Saucier Than A Bottle of Ketchup!
Phil Hopkins, Arts & Travel Editor
It’s the best part of a decade since Joe McElderry came to prominence on The X Factor and won the hearts of a nation – and judge Cheryl Cole - as the Newcastle ‘boy next door’ who still called his mum, ‘mam’.

Since then he has matured into a consummate performer and become one of the UK’s faces of the moment doing the rounds of the regional theatres. Last night it was time for this still fresh-faced ‘Joseph’ to ramp up the double entendres as he took on the more dubious role of Spanish resort host, Garry, in Club Tropicana the Musical.

In everything but name, this was a Hi-de-Hi! / Benidorm hybrid and, as cheesy as it was, it was also hilarious with a huge nod to those infamous Carry On scrips pedalled by the likes of Sid James and Barbara Windsor.

Following the Mamma Mia! format of a story loosely strung together by a raft of songs – this time it was the music of the 80’s – we see Olly stood up as the altar as his bride-to-be has second thoughts. They both set off independently for a holiday in Spain to lick their wounds, each with a couple of pals in tow.

Fate plays its part. All six end up in the same hotel with McElderry performing a role somewhere between matchmaker, Manuel in Fawlty Towers and a character straight out of a Ray Cooney farce. There’s lots of crazy capers, Cupid steps in and everyone lives happily ever after.

The theatre was packed and it was hard to know whether this was an audience there for McElderry or the music of Bananarama, Culture Club, Depeche Mode or ABC.

Either way, McElderry stepped on stage with the confidence of a young man beyond his years, got everyone to their feet and let it be known that they were about to have an amazing night; and they did.

Also by Phil Hopkins...
Rodgers & Hammerstein - A Central Theme
Around The World In 80 Days
The Magic Of Motown Wows Bradford
High-Heeled Hit Smashes Leeds!
Benidorm A Knockout In Leeds!
The music of the 80’s drove the show along like a steam train, and Michael Gyngell’s script was reflective of the fact that he has had a long pedigree in theatre and knows what makes an audience tick.

There were some genuinely strong performers in this production. The dancers were spot on with no lazy high-kicks, Cellen Chugg Jones as Olly had a fine set of pipes and comedian cum mimic, Kate Robbins as Spanish cleaner, Consuela, was hilarious and hugely talented.

This will not be a show that’s remembered for decades for it is a production ‘of the moment’, a certain type of fad that is a juke-box musicas; tunes first, find a story, bash it together and, wham bam, you have something that will make a few quid.

However, it is slick cheese and something that will provide a wonderful evening snack any time of the week.

Club Tropicana the Musical
Bradford Alhambra
Until Saturday February 9th.

Tropicana - Saucier Than A Bottle of Ketchup!, 5th February 2019, 10:11 AM