Written By: Mark Armstrong
Date: November 12 2018
Location: Empire Theatre, Liverpool
Benidorm was one of the more anticipated shows to hit the Empire stage, and it’s safe to say that it was a hit!
The backdrop for the stage was the exterior of the Solana Hotel, and was suitably brightly lit. As soon as the music begins, we are transported to Spain and to the Solana reception area. We meet a young posh couple, Ben (Bradley Clarkson) and Sophie (Tricia Adele-Turner), who are checking in for two days to an uninterested receptionist in “Diego” (Will Jennings), whose name badge says “Ricky”, his real name within the story. Joyce (Sherrie Hewson), the hotel manager, appears to try and assist the couple, but the girl is quite abrupt.
The scenery changes are clever as we head to the hairdressers Blow & Go, where we see Liam (Adam Gillen) with a customer, who has obviously been given the wrong hairdo, then Kenneth (Tony Maudsley) appears to make matters worse.
There is a great set change for the pool area, as the posh couple meet the barman Mateo (Jake Canuso), who does a very seductive dance with the stroppy wife. Next, Jacqueline (Janine Duvitski) is very warmly welcomed by the audience, and her comedy lines are very good as she comes across quite naive in what she says. She introduces herself to Ben, and misinterprets what he says when he suggests that his wife likes “swinging music”. Jacqueline also explains that her friend “Gay Derek” (Damian Williams) is arriving later, and that they should all meet up. When he arrives, he makes it clear that he fancies Kenneth, who is not interested. Still at the pool, Mateo is trying to seduce Sophie, and appears in very tight Speedos to the audience’s laughter and applause.
We’re taken to the Neptune Pub, where the holiday makers are having a great time and a good old sing-a-long. Joyce has heard that a hotel inspector has been secretly checking it out to see if it will stay open. She believes that the posh couple are the inspectors, and goes out of her way to have Diego see to their every needs. Derek acts shiftily and makes notes, and he apologies to Kenneth for coming on too strong. But he drops his notes, which Kenneth reads, leading Kenneth to believe that Derek is the inspector. He tells Joyce that she’s got it wrong, so she quickly tells the posh couple that all their treats are over. She gave them a cheque for £3,000 earlier to compensate for their bad time, but now she demands it back.
Sam (Shelley Longsworth), the tour rep, sings a very good song, demonstrating that she has an excellent voice. Mateo also gives us a Flamenco dance, which was also superb. Derek is then confronted, revealing that he’s not the inspector after all. The scenes from Jacqueline are all very funny and filled with innuendo. She steals these scenes with her energetic performance, especially in Rubber Ball where she literally does “Boing Boing” and dances!
Liam also gives a good version of Unforgettable, while Derek reveals his notes in the form of a poem which is very funny. Diego is actually revealed to be the inspector, and says that although it is a terrible hotel, he has fallen in love with Sam and proposes to her, which she accepts. Joyce then tells everyone that the hotel will stay open, leaving everybody happy. Even the posh couple make up and give back the cheque. There’s a lovely scene where the different couples dance to Spanish Eyes, leading to the finale of a rousing rendition of A Viva España.
This is an excellent transition from the TV to the theatre, which is helped by so much of the original cast appearing. It almost felt like we’d stayed at the Solana ourselves, as the scenes were very funny and believable. There is superb scenery and clever changes that were unnoticeable, along with some extra goodies for attendees on the night! So, Benidorm Live was a great night out, and one that everybody should sample.
Overall Rating: 9/10 – Outstanding