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Benidorm Live, The Alexandra, Birmingham - review with pictures

By Diane Davies | Theatre & Comedy | Published:

Oh this year we’re off to sunny Spain – for the Christmas production at Birmingham’s Alexandra Theatre.

Sherrie Hewson 'Joyce Temple-Savage' and Company. Photo Paul Coltas.

There’s not a Santa or fairytale character in sight, though Joyce Temple-Savage does have a bit of pantomime about her.

Benidorm Live has opened for a four-week run in Birmingham and is guaranteed to warm your heart on a wintry night.

Although the comedy itself is a little blue.

Despite being axed from our TV screens after 10 years, Benidorm has been created for the stage by writer Derren Litten and includes six of the key main characters from the show.

There are whoops and applause as each make their first appearance on stage – Temple-Savage (played by Sherrie Hewson); Sam (Shelley Longworth); Mateo (Jake Canuso); Jacqueline (Janine Duvitski); Kenneth (Tony Maudsley) and Liam (Adam Gillen).

Tony Maudsley 'Kenneth' and Adam Gillen 'Liam'. Photo Paul Coltas

Poaching some of the storylines from the TV series, the production sees a well-to-do couple with a particularly snotty wife arrive at the Solana hotel just as it faces a takeover.

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Temple-Savage is tipped off that a spy for the new owners is staying in the hotel and the gang do their best to impress what they believe to be the undercover company spies and try to save the Solana.

Jake Canuso 'Mateo'. Photo Paul Coltas

The larger than life characters work well on stage. Mateo is exceptionally greasy, Kenneth is even more base while Liam is his loveable, effeminate self.

Jacqueline and friend Gay Derek, played superbly as you might imagine by Derren Litten himself, get most of their laughs with much non-too-subtle innuendo that was unlikely to ever make it onto the TV.

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The action moves swiftly between the reception, pool, Joyce’s office and the Blow and Go hair salon with some light choreography from the cast to ensure a seamless transition.

The second half centres on the evening in Neptune’s Bar and here we see some of the stars’ additional talents. Shelley Longworth, as Sam, reveals a lovely voice when she performs in the big cabaret show.

Shelley Longworth 'Sam'. Photo Paul Coltas

While Canuso gives an incredible, high energy flamenco dance reflecting his dancing career having worked with some of the top choreographers and musical acts in the world including Sir Elton John, Take That and the Spice Girls.

Neptune’s Bar resident singer Asa Elliott is also in the show and his musical interludes, such as Livin La Vida Loca and Rubber Ball, add to that holiday mood and party atmosphere.

Asa Elliott. Photo Paul Coltas

Not that the audience needed much chivvying. There was obviously a lot of Benidorm fans there and they soaked up the opportunity to see their favourite show up close and personal.

This show has all the elements that made Benidorm such a success including some of the hilarious main characters and lots of laughs, even if they are a little saucy, in this feelgood show.

Sherrie Hewson. 'Joyce Temple-Savage' Photo Paul Coltas

So if you’d like to chat a Mateo in a cool Neptune’s Bar, with gags by the score, then it’s Benidorm and Espana por favour.

Runs at The Alexandra until December 29.

Diane Davies

By Diane Davies
@@didavies_star

MNA Group head of weekly titles, and former deputy editor of the Express & Star. Specialist interest in music and theatre scene with regular reviews from our wealth of top venues.

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