By: Cathryn Macey, TRP Reviewer
Panto season may not be here quite yet, but this week Kylie Minogue is our Fairy Godmother in this outrageously hilarious musical by queen of the witty quip, Debbie Isitt.
Isitt is the name behind the Nativity! franchise. The stage musical version of our favourite family festive film came to Plymouth a few years back and was every bit as magical and funny as the original screenplay. I Should Be So Lucky features many of Stock Aitken Waterman’s biggest hits from the poster boys and girls of Gen X – Jason Donovan, Sinitta, Sonia and, of course, Rick Astley!
Combining Isitt’s talent for script writing with the ultimate 80’s soundtrack is a dream come true, but does the production do the heavy weights of synthetic pop justice or, like Charlene’s perm, is it best left not to mention it again?
Thankfully, I can whole heartedly reveal that I Should Be So Lucky is memorable for all the right reasons and is worthy of its raucous audience reception. The performances and the music are so energetic and uplifting that we spend the night dancing like no one is watching – let’s hope they weren’t!
So – how does Debbie Isitt craft a narrative worthy of such a score? Judging by the familiar but excellent plot, she drew inspiration from comedies and musicals such as Mamma Mia, Sex and The City and good old Shirley Valentine.
The plot starts with every bride-to-be’s nightmare…..a reluctant groom. Ella (Lucie-Mae Sumner) is exquisitely dressed as the archetypal bride. She is the apple of her father’s eye. Goosebumps erupt all over our arms as Ella softly launches into ‘Especially For You.’ It’s a beautiful moment but just as we’re all glassy eyed and mentally picturing Scott and Charlene’s wedding from Neighbours, Nathan has a wobble. A large one. The wedding is off!
However, as Ella’s best mates all cheerily conclude – the nuptials are off but the honeymoon is still ON. Faster than you can say “too many broken hearts”, Ella’s trusty multi-generational crew bundle her on to a plane before collectively gate crashing the honeymoon suite and partying like it’s 1988.
There’s just one problem….. Nathan (Billy Roberts) finds out that his reasons for calling the wedding off are a work of fiction from his rather confused Grandad. So, determined to never give Ella up now he knows the truth, he enlists his loyal sidekick, and all round good guy, Ash (Giovanni Spano) and they jet off to Turkey right away with the goal of winning Ella back.
Will Ella declare it’s a case of “better the devil you know” and forgive the plonker who broke her fragile, young heart – or will she ride off into the sunset with the hot local Turkish tour guide, Nadeem? (I know what I’d do!)
Admittedly, I Should Be So Lucky is cheesier than your nan’s festive cheese board with enough glitter, sequins and pink costumes and props to make even the late Dame Barbara Cartland blush. It would be easy for the show to fall into cliché and simply rely upon its soundtrack to carry it, but it has more depth than you might expect and a delightful set.
All of the performers are incredibly talented; this is a cast that are at the top of their game and, dare I say it, some of their versions of the old classics are better than the originals. The leading lady shines as brightly as her idol, Kylie. Lucie–Mae’s performance of ‘Step Back In Time’ features Ella gyrating outrageously in a magnificent gold, sequinned outfit. She definitely channels Kylie’s disco era here and the audience go wild.
Praise must go to the performers of the two power ballads of the evening. The over looked bridesmaid (Kayla Carter) belts out a moving version of ‘You’ll Never Stop Me Loving You’ and down trodden house wife Shelley (Melissa Jacques) and bewildered husband, Mike (Gary Davis), sing a heartfelt rendition of ‘Tell Tale Signs.’ These moments bring a light reprieve from the jaw achingly funny script and show that this musical is a hot bed of talent and humour combined.
I’ve seen several standing ovations this year in The Lyric. But for this show, people are dancing all the way through the finale and whooping their appreciation during the curtain call. I Should Be So Lucky is even more wonderful than Kylie’s iconic sequinned hot pants.
Grab a ticket NOW!