I'm a freelance writer living in Birmingham. I like Classic Rock, 70s pop music, football and interviewing celebrities. Follow me on Twitter: @andycoleman9
Fun for the festive season
It's the Christmas show that offers Birmingham theatregoers sun and sangria, instead of snow and Santa.
The smash hit series Benidorm is booked into The Alexandra until December 29 so fans of the ITV programme can discover if the Solana hotel is going to be taken over and closed down, as was threatened in the final TV episode.
A number of the favourite characters are present and correct – with each receiving whoops of welcome from the audience as they make their entrance.
Guest appearances are made by the show's creator and writer Derren Litten (Gay Derek), Will Jennings (waiter, Ricky) and Tricia Adele-Turner and Bradley Clarkson (posh holidaymakers, Sophie and Ben).
The plot is slight – Belroy Hotels are thought to be interested in taking over the Solana and have dispatched spies to go undercover and discover how well, or badly, it is being run. It reminded me of the Fawlty Towers episode, The Hotel Inspectors.
Like the best Carry On films, the story is secondary; it's the characters and their catchphrases that the public want to hear. Writer Derren Litten has cleverly woven in elements of pantomime so the audience feels part of the show. There are knowing glances from the cast as they deliver yet another double entendre and innuendo, and greasy Mateo obviously has eyes for somebody in the front row of the stalls. There is even the occasional ad-lib, such as when Sherrie Hewson (below) gets her tongue in a twist around one of the lines – and ends up corpsing with Tony Maudsley.
The script is what you'd expect from a TV episode of Benidorm – with some of the dialogue just a bit fruitier than ITV would allow. I've not heard as many camp quips in Birmingham since Julian Clary starred in the Hippodrome pantomime.
The first half features scenes in familiar settings – the hotel reception, poolside bar, the salon – courtesy of imaginative design by Mark Walters who uses revolving sets to ensure seamless on-stage transformations.
The second half takes place in Neptune's Bar, with plenty of singing and dancing, giving each character the chance to strut their stuff. Particularly impressive is Shelley Longworth's Sam, who reveals a lovely singing voice, Jake Canuso's Mateo – no mean dancer (above) – and Janine Duvitski's Jacqueline (below) who, for me, steals the show with her potty mouth, Machiavellian manoeuvres and side-splittingly funny moves during a karaoke rendition of Rubber Ball.
Feliz Navidad to all the Benidorm cast! Enjoy Christmas in Birmingham.