Oh I do like to be beside the seaside
Y Viva Espana! The wonderfully cheesy song belted out to a capacity crowd and standing ovation at Bristol Hippodrome for the brilliant brash production of Benidorm.
The performance was jam-packed with every innuendo you could possibly imagine and then some as the crowd roared, clapped at the sangria-soaked Spanish escapism far from Brexit wrangles and freezing winter.
I heard one woman wistfully say: ‘This is brilliant. I go to Benidorm every year with 20 mates and it’s a laugh from start to finish.’
For anyone who hasn’t glimpsed the award-winning ITV series written by Steve Pemberton and Darren Litten, it a cheap-as-chips comedy which follows a group of Brits soaking up sun, sangria and family strife in the Solano Hotel at the Mediterranean hotspot not noted for Spanish culture.
The stage play, directed by Ed Curtis, sticks close to the recipe with total politically incorrect writing in buckets and spades with farts, gags to make you gag and even a little light racism that pulled itself back off a cliff edge.
If you recall the Fawlty Towers plotline in which the undercover hotel inspector visits that brought much confusion and desperation then this loosely covers the Benidorm stage story.
I liked that fact that the suspected inspectors were believed to be a snobby couple hopelessly marooned in the Salona and looking down on it from a very great height.
The stars of the show were of course lacquered and liquored Mateo, superbly and sleazily played with every muscle-bound, sex-mad nuance, by Jake Canuso – the classically trained dancer who gave a superb Flamenco performance that appeared to have a lot of females in the audience swooning and Mateo winking at them.
Hot on his Cuban heels, in a pair of skin-tight wincingly small lycra shorts, pranced the giant haystacks crimper of the Blow N Go salon, Kenneth (Tony Maudsley), gossiping and mincing and fleeing the unwanted attentions of Gay Derek (Damian Williams) another suspected hotel inspector.
Janine Duvitski as Jacqueline: the biggest and plainest swinger in Benidorm with a grating voice that could cut through tarmac faster than any heavy-duty drill was a joy to watch even as you shuddered about her mention of a cat flap.
Endearing Liam (Adam Gillen) who crimps with Kenneth was suitably twitchy and inept as he’s chased from pillar to post by men whilst proclaiming he isn’t gay.
Sherrie Newson who plays feisty hotel manager, Joyce Temple-Savage is the fraught manager who thinks she’s in charge but is way out of her depth and dogged by fears that the Solano is being taken over. Shelley Longworth, as sparky Sam, is a woman with a great stage presence and the singing voice of an angel.
There’s even a clever, romantic twist at the finale.
The Solano stage sets – with hotel entrance, poolside, Mateo’s bar, Karaoke stage and Kenny’s Hairdressers were all slickly put together and moved seamlessly back and forth.
The rest of the cast paraded, sang and danced through scenes brilliantly thanks to choreography of Alan Harding.
Go and feel the heat for yourselves. Y Viva Espana!
Viva Benidorm with ex-pats
PREVIEW: Derren Litten's smash hit ITV comedy Benidorm is set to bring sunshine and smiles as the first ever stage version of the ITV comedy which lands at the Bristol Hippodrome Monday to Saturday, November 19-24.
The show is produced for the stage by Michael Harrison and David Ian.
Litten has written an all new set of Alicante escapades for the much-loved cast members, including Jake Canuso (Mateo), Janine Duvitski (Jacqueline), Adam Gillen (Liam), Sherrie Hewson (Joyce Temple-Savage), Shelley Longworth (Sam), and Tony Maudsley (Kenneth) as they swap sangria for the stage after a quick spruce at the Blow ‘n’ Go!
Benidorm - Live is the stage debut production of the hugely popular TV show, and on making its transfer, writer Derren Litten said: “I’ve loved 10 years of writing my TV show Benidorm, but despite a successful writing career I’m first and foremost a performer so have always been secretly frustrated I couldn't hear the audience’s laughter.
"This national tour of Benidorm - Live will not only make a long-lasting dream come true, it will also mean I no longer have to stand in strangers’ gardens listening at their windows at 9pm on cold winter evenings.”
ITV’s smash-hit comedy celebrates a decade of all-inclusive hilarity, having followed the ensemble cast of holiday makers and staff for nine series since its first broadcast in 2007.
After leaving school in Hull in the late 1980s, Derren Litten spent a year working as a professional magician before going to the Central School of Speech and Drama where he met fellow student Catherine Tate.
After a decade of working as an actor, Derren was asked by Catherine to write for her newly commissioned TV sketch show, The Catherine Tate Show, in which he also appeared in many of the sketches.
After co-writing and appearing in two series and a Christmas Special, Derren was given a script commission by legendary comedy producer Geoffrey Perkins, 'just write anything you want as long as it’s funny' he said; that show turned out to be ITV’s BAFTA nominated hit comedy Benidorm.
Derren’s hobbies include drinking and karaoke, usually in that order. He splits his time equally between homes in London and Spain.
BENIDORM LIVE: Photos from top Sherrie Hewson as Joyce Temple-Savage and Company; Janine Duvitski on sunbed playing Jacqueline and Tony Maudsley as Kenneth all by Paul Coltas