Thursday, May 30

I Should Be So Lucky – Sheffield Lyceum

The Hit Factory of the 1980/1990’s punches into the Sheffield Lyceum this week with Stock, Aitken & Waterman’s – I Should Be So Lucky.  With over 25 of their top 40 hits packed into this farcical frolic of romance and crazy characters, I was left in a confused state – torn between irresistibility and irritation. The music has the potential to be a great addition to the tradition of jukebox musicals but unfortunately the storyline is just too manic to invest in its characters. With flashes of brilliance and moments that overstep the camp cheesiness into complete cringe – this show is definitely the marmite of musical theatre but just maybe it is meant to be so?

With an audience demographic donned with rose coloured spectacles of a bygone era of dancing in their bedrooms to Rick Astley, Kylie Minogue and Bananarama the production hits the spot. The set designed by Tom Rogers is beautiful with its heart shaped motif throughout and his costume designs also fit perfectly within the illusion. Howard Hudson’s lighting design adds to the almost surreal feel with Andrzel Goulding’s video animated Kylie Minogue making repeated appearances in the mirror like a superstar sparkling Fairy Godmother. The stage is set, strike up the band, under the Musical Direction of John Hodgson, which stays true to the original sound of the music for the majority of the time and enter a stellar cast!

The story is based around Ella (Lucie-Mae Sumner), a bride cruelly jilted at the altar by Nathan (Billy Roberts). With her sister, Brittany (Jessica Daly), bridesmaid Bonnie (Kayla Carter), friend Michael (Scott Paige), Mum Shelley (Melissa Jacques) and Nan Ivy (Jemma Churchill) in tow, Ella is convinced to take her would-have-been honeymoon at the Turkish resort that caters for ‘Love’. Enter Jamie Chapman as Spencer the hotel resort manager and Matthew Croke as Nadeem, a respective new love interest amongst a wealth of other characters including troublemakers and masseurs and finally the arrival of Nathan (Billy Thomas) and his best friend Ash (Giovanni Spano) – grab the sunscreen it is going to get messy!

It’s this cast that are one of the real strengths of the show, without a weak link, their vocals soar, and their energy knows no bounds. I couldn’t keep up with their break-neck-speed escapades let alone them having to perform them! The movement and dance choreography by Jason Gilkison with assistance by Robbie Kmetoni and Natasha Mould is another strength. It is during the ensemble numbers that the show excels with some brilliant choreography that flows, reminisces and occasionally breaks into a real Musical Theatre approach – I particularly enjoyed the Greek spin on You Spin me Round lead by Giovanni Spano as Ash and Billy Roberts as Nathan. This number really elevates the show into what it could become. The opening sequence sets the frenzied pace, and you need your seatbelt on when you finally arrive at the Turkish resort – simply breathtaking! Kayla Carter is given the only real heart gripping moment in the show that allows an emotional connection to the character and her voice is simply stunning. Sumner’s Ella does an exceptional job to stay front and centre with so much happening around her and she is delightful to watch. Scott Paige is standout as the camp and outlandish best friend Michael and his comic timing is exquisite, milking every; often lame joke. Watch out for the delicious hotel manager Spencer’s performance – very amusing! Croke’s pedigree shines as soon as he steps on stage as Nadeem, demanding our attention however sadly we never find out if his feelings for Ella are genuine or not. Both Jacques and Churchill as Mum and Nan respectively are real powerhouses, and their stories deserve greater development.   

With all that said – the issue lies, for me, in the writing of the show. After Bafta and Emmy award winning successes by Debbie Isitt including the Nativity film franchise, I Should Be So Lucky disappointingly under develops its characters, not allowing the audience to engage or empathise with them in any depth. So many additional storylines are added into the plot that they all become superficial, unexplored and unfinished. At the eleventh-hour new love interests are thrown into the mix and we lack the prior detail as who to cheer for and who not to! This is a real shame as I Should Be So Lucky really does have potential with some fabulous music.

This production is still a good night out – just don’t look through the rose-coloured spectacles too deeply, perhaps, just perhaps it is meant to mirror the Hit FACTORY music?? It is certainly a dancing in the aisles type of show with plenty of humour and one liners and foremost – I don’t know who was left more worn out from the antics – the cast or the audience! Oh, for the first time ever, I must mention the programme – it is a wealth of knowledge about Stock Aiken and Waterman and well worth a read, I found it fascinating!   I Should be So Lucky is a flimsy yet fun and frenzied whirlwind of a production at the Sheffield Lyceum until Saturday 20th January.

Reviewer: Tracey Bell

Reviewed: 16th January 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.