Marlowe Summer Musical Round-up

Credit: The Marlowe Theatre | Facebook

Little Miss Sunshine

Sunny spells and a chance of rain is predicted as Little Miss Sunshine embarks on its European tour. The Oscar-award winning film, turned musical performed in Canterbury from Wednesday 31 July to Saturday 3 August at the Marlowe Theatre. The production follows the dysfunctional Hoover family on a frantic road trip across the US in a legally questionable Volkswagen camper to deliver their youngest, Olive, to the ‘Little Miss Sunshine Contest’.

The Tony-winning cast and creatives delivered rays of sunshine with a stunning set design and convincing storytelling. The musical featured beloved songs from the film, including the hilarious finale ‘Shake your Badonkadonk’. The musical encapsulates the taboos of life and its difficulties. Perhaps one thing which we can learn from Olive is her positivity, self-belief and confidence, despite those who do not believe in her as well as her difficult life circumstances.

Little Miss Sunshine depicts the beautiful theme of love in a tear jerking and heart-warming way. The lengths to which Olive’s family fight to make her feel happy and loved displays the extent of unconditional love, on top of the sacrifices endured. Even if that does entail travelling 800 miles in a shoddy van with an open can of issues, all for a beauty pageant where the chances of winning are slim. Bursting with warmth, comedy and a well-composed score, Little Miss Sunshine charmed and delighted the audience.

Madagascar: The Musical Students and residents of Canterbury; there is a lion on the loose. It is 6ft tall, roaring, dangerous and it has been caught frightening the public. It has been confirmed that the lions name is ‘Alex’ but do not be alarmed. The lion is confined within the perimeters of the Marlowe Theatre. Have you still got jungle fever after witnessing the greatness of The Lion King this summer? Hakuna Matata, no worries. The jungle adventures remain as Madagascar the musical visits the UK making its premiere in Canterbury on Wednesday 24 July. Madagascar: The Musical is a throwback sensation. The musical takes the beloved Hollywood phenomenon about a group of misfits in search of freedom, and have brought it to life on stage, resurrecting memories of our childhood. The production portrays the childhood bromance between Alex (X-Factor’s Matt Terry) and the enigmatic Marty (Posi Morakinyo). During the 2 hour run time, audience members will be singing, dancing and evening flossing. One asks whether this is the future of musical theatre. Among our protagonist Alex and the rest of the NYC collective, there is King Julien Louis who manages to steal everyone’s hearts and left some of us in hysteria with his outlandish remarks and flamboyant personality. The thing that makes this play so impressive is its authenticity. The cast manages to sustain the illusion of reality, it is so believable. Never for one moment did I think that these were just a bunch of crack-a-lackin’ actors reciting lines. It really felt like they were escaping from New York’s Central Park Zoo. The creation of this world through speech, voice, text, music and costume is something to behold. Madagascar is a toe tapping musical adventure that will surely get you on your feet. You will not be dancing after the show but rather during. A lion may not be on the loose in real life, but you definitely will be. King Julien will definitely ask you to ‘Move it’ with him.

Club Tropicana The theatrics of Love Island came to the Marlowe from 17-22 June in an all singing, all dancing, light blinding phenomenon Club Tropicana. The musical follows the story of a couple, Lorraine and Ollie, who cancelled their wedding due to cold feet. Both were left in despair over the decision, each of their friendship groups encouraging them to jet set to the Sizzling ‘Club Tropicana’ for some sea, sand and love. Wrapped up in the quest for romance, Club Tropicana presents an intense story filled with chaos and drama. Beneath the initial turmoil, we are met with another love triangle taking place between hotel staffers and the suspected inspector ‘Christine’. Romance takes no break on this paradise island. We see the plot unfold with dialogue exchange between characters, but also through the 25 strong songs. Club Tropicana’s official website claims the musical contains ‘smash hit after smash hit’, and the show certainly delivered. Present in the rundown of songs which were performed included loved hits from the 1980s. Highlights out of the toe-tapping soundtrack include ’Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’, ’She Drives Me Crazy’ and ‘Take on Me’. ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ displays the tight harmonies seen throughout the show and the crowd favourite ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ presented X Factor winner Joe McElderry’s (playing larger than life holiday rep ‘Garry’) showmanship. McElderry’s showman skills was a smidge of his talent. He performed exceptionally, with strong and hearty vocals, charisma and the ability to interact with the audience when the opportunity presented itself. McElderry was not the only one who brought it to the stage. We witness stunning vocals from former Sugababe star Amelle Berrabah (playing hotel manager ‘Serena’), making her musical theatre entrée memorable. Club Tropicana includes witty remarks, smart deliveries and potent puns, all of which made the audience roar with laughter. Grumpy hotel maid ‘Consuela’ (played by Kate Robbins) was a crowd favourite, however not mine. The humour centred around Consuela was racially driven, stealing laughs from her lack of English and her culture. Consuela for the most part was the centre of this humour contained in the show and this did not float my boat; lazy, incompetent, and non-English speaking . The one person of ethnic origin is depicted in a lower ranking job and a lesser light and as a comical figure in comparison to everyone else in the hotel. Perhaps this humour is targeted to a certain demographic of which most of the audience were 40+ white women. Regarding casting, the cast did not include any performers of colour and all seemed to be off the same race, build and accent. Despite the inclusion of a plus-sized actress (Rebecca Mendoza) Tracey, she is not depicted in a greater light either, as her weight often foreshadows the humour surrounding her character. Overall, the comedy would come across bland if soft humour is not your thing. Club Tropicana fails to deliver its show with a diverse cast present. However, Club Tropicana can be praised for its use of wit, soundtrack and showmanship displayed by the cast and the dancers. This show takes audience engagement to a whole new level and is worth it if you are fed up with Love Island and want to see some real romance on holiday.

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