Pete Waterman once described Steps as being like ABBA on Speed. I Should Be So Lucky is like Stock Aitken Waterman on acid. It’s a mad whirl of a jukebox musical that whizzes by in a cacophony of colour, high-energy dancing and one fantastic pop song after another.
The script is wafter-thin and very Mamma Mia! adjacent. The corny way songs are shoehorned in makes Mamma Mia! seem like Shakespeare. All boxes are ticked: Horny elders? Check. Comedy best mates? Check. An appearance by none other than Kylie Minogue (as a digital fairy godmother)? Check.
All of this could easily have resulted in a cynical cash grab of a show simply trading on nostalgia for all those cracking SAW tunes. But in the hands of writer-director Debbie Isitt (whose best-known work is on the Nativity! films) I Should Be So Lucky is an exuberant, giddy night out that has its tongue firmly in its cheek.
“The plot is daft and derivative”
The plot is daft and derivative. Jilted on her wedding day, heartbroken lass Ella (Lucie-Mae Sumner) heads off on the planned honeymoon in Turkey anyway as her family and friends accompany her for some sun, sea, sand and Sex on the Beaches. Realising his mistake, fiancée Nathan (Billy Roberts) follows her there in the hope of winning her back.
You can imagine the rest: Flings with foreigners, friends who suddenly realise they should be lovers, Granny getting her groove on. Oh and that old staple – the cuddly, fabulous, larger-than-life gay best pal who dispenses wisdom and bitchery and finally gets his man.
If the above is your idea of theatrical hell then you’re very much like the couple to our left who sat stoney-faced through the whole thing and bolted for the exits at the end. Or maybe you’re like the two ladies to our right whose chair-dancing kept rocking the row of rickety seats and who leapt into the aisle for the obligatory megamix finale. It’s a Marmite show. I hate Marmite, but the show went down a treat for me because of its self-awareness about its silliness.
Tons of Kylie tracks
The soundtrack helps. There are no Steps songs on the tracklist (unless you count their cover of ‘Better The Devil You Know’) because they’re saving them for their own jukebox musical later this year. But there’s tons of Kylie, plus hits that SAW penned for Bananarama, Jason Donovan and Rick Astley, et al, as well as deeper cuts by The Three Degrees and Hazel Dean.
Special mention goes to Kayla Carter, whose Bonnie transforms Sonia’s ‘You’ll Never Stop Me Loving You’ from chirpy pop song to roof-raising ballad. Scott Paige’s out-and-proud Michael raises the roof too with an hilarious ‘Toy Boy’ duet. But you can’t fault any of the cast or ensemble. They sing and dance their asses off in a musical that promises to be nothing more than a fun frolic and delivers exactly that.
I Should Be So Lucky is at the New Wimbledon Theatre until 3 February and tours the UK until 27 April. Get tickets here