Club Tropicana – Bradford Alhambra

A MUSICAL set in a Spanish seaside hotel during the 1980s and overflowing with hit songs from the decade fashion forgot.

We were going to have a fun night even if the script was naff, the acting was rubbish and the singing rarely rose above the level you’d expect from a holiday camp.

So it was a bonus that Club Tropicana’s acting, singing and script were actually pretty good, and we could have a good laugh and the odd romantic sigh amidst the expected toe-tapping, humming and clapping along.

As the packed and enthusiastic opening-night audience on Tuesday demonstrated, Club Tropicana is a perfect way to blow away the winter blues for a night.

That said, Club Tropicana is certainly not art, and is likely to win any theatre awards. But I don’t think anyone involved set their hearts on critical acclaim or an Olivier.

No, they simply wanted to pull out their Now 1980s albums, fashion an easy-on-the-brain storyline and audition for the most lively performers, with the sole intention of thoroughly entertaining the punters.

We first see young sweethearts Olly and Andrea on their wedding day, when a panicking Andrea flees to the Med with her pals leaving Olly anguished at the altar.

Olly and his chums also head for the same hotel and the trios – unaware of each other’s presence – set out to celebrate singledom in the sun.

Meanwhile hotel owners and lifelong friends – played with charm by the Sugababes’ Amelle Berrabah and EastEnders’ Neil McDermott – try to cope with the arrival of a hotel inspector while slowly realising they’ve always been in love with each other.

There are rude-but-not-too-rude-jokes, witty nods to 80s fashions and phrases, and X-Factor heartthrob Joe McElderry as a loveably-camp hotel entertainer

And most crowd-pleasingly there is impressionist Kate Robbins, brilliantly funny as dumpy Spanish maid Consuela.

One thing I particularly enjoyed was that the songs, while all familiar, weren’t confined to the obvious mega-hits like Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and Take On Me.

There were also less-overused tracks, and many of them were used in inventive, witty ways to further the story.

My only niggle – and it hardly affected the experience – is that Wham’s classic title song appears absolutely nowhere in the show.

* Bradford Alhambra, until Saturday, visit or call 01274 432000 to book tickets.

David Knights