I Should Be So Lucky is an unashamedly cheesy slice of pop perfection at Sunderland Empire

There are some musicals that you just need to see the poster for to know that it couldn’t be any more up your street if it tried and, for me, I Should Be So Lucky was precisely that.

As a millennial just about old enough to appreciate just what a historically important event Scott and Charlene’s wedding was, but young enough to jump right on the Girls Aloud bandwagon when the time came, I belong to a generation who just need just a few bars of a Stock, Aitken & Waterman hit to be sent into a nostalgic frenzy and that’s exactly what I Should Be So Lucky does.

This is as much of a blast from the past as a pile of old Smash Hits magazines in your mam and dad’s loft or a VHS of Neighbours best bits. It’s unashamedly cheesy, it’s high camp and it has more classic bops than the most top tier of Now compilations.

I Should Be So Lucky is a show that, while is likely not to be held in regard by theatre snobs who couldn’t even entertain the notion they might actually enjoy it and probably won’t be troubling the Olivier Awards anytime soon, couldn’t be more fun if it tried.

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And, as well as having an all killer no filler soundtrack to help with that, its success is in no small part to its cast, who as well as having energy levels higher than the gone but never forgotten Duracell bunny, are brimming with talent.

Like many popular musicals there is of course a love story at its core, with the wedding of young couple Ella and Nathan being far from a fairytale, as Nathan jilts his would be bride at the altar. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, it means that a touching version of Kylie and Jason’s Especially For You was cruelly cut short. Maybe a blast of Angry Anderson’s Suddenly would have had a better result?

As Ella and Nathan, Lucie-Mae Sumner and Billy Roberts are confident and assured performers. Amid Ella’s shame and devastation of being deserted on her wedding day, Lucie-Mae gives a real gritty and at times, very defiant, star turn as her character who goes on her honeymoon with friends and family and ends up in the arms of hotel guide Nadeem, played with suave and sensitivity by the dashing Matthew Cooke.

Lucie-Mae is the centre of some cracking musical numbers, from her duet of often overlooked Kylie hit If You Were With Me Now to Ella’s ‘breakthrough’ moment Venus and Better the Devil You Know, with Billy getting the chance to show off his vocal chops in the likes of Never Too Late and This Time I Know It’s For Real.

Speaking of stand out songs in I Should Be So Lucky, step forward Kayla Carter who brings the raw passion akin to Effie White in Dreamgirls to her superb take on Sonia’s You’ll Never Stop Me From Loving You; a song that probably shouldn’t work as an angst ridden power ballad but, thanks to Kayla, most definitely does.

Bringing all the exuberance and effortless vigour that served her well 14 years ago on BBC’s Over The Rainbow, the North East’s own Jessica Daley is fantastic as Britney. While brilliantly bold and brash in act two showstopper Love in the First Degree, as well as showing she can turn her undeniable talent, Jess offers nuances to a troubled past for her character, which finally comes to light as the show nears its conclusion.

Keeping things in the family, her on stage mum and nana Melissa Jacques and Jemma Churchill, are both fine actresses and singers, with the bright and bubby care free nature of Melissa’s role as mum Shelley giving way to a trapped and fed up wife, as she confronts husband Mick in the emotional sucker punch of Telltale Signs.

Just like I Should Be So Lucky has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to its music, it also has no end of great performers its cast. Scott Paige is the gay best friend every girl should have, with his warmth, cheekiness and comic timing making character Michael the perfect guest for any party. And his scenes with Ralph Bogard are comedy gold. The ticket price to go and see the show is worth it for their two hander of Sinitta’s Toy Boy alone!

The same plaudit could be bestowed on Jamie Chapman, who oozes joie de vivre as hotel manager Spencer, a part he was clearly born to play. Unlike the Kylie track in the show, Je ne sais pas Pourquoi, I know exactly why I was bowled over by his polished and priceless performance.

Former X Factor star Giovanni Spanno is a real scene stealer as Nathan’s best man Ash, with his performance just as colourful as the shirts on his back, while as villain of the piece Olivia, Anna Unwin is part Regina George, part 80s soap bitch.

Kylie herself has a big part to play. Who needs a Magic Mirror when you can have one of Minogue variety to give the damsel in distress some pep talks whenever needed, with Kylie’s inputs delivered with her tongue firmly in her cheek and the obligatory pop princess glint in her eye.

I Should Be So Lucky
I Should Be So Lucky

While it would be easy to dismiss I Should Be So Lucky as a throwaway bit of theatrical fluff, there are some sub plots within the all singing all dancing story, like Britney’s gambling addiction and Shelley’s marriage woes, that, if investigated further, rather than just having their surfaces scratched, could help the production have even more heart that it already has.

There are arguably many more songs that could have made the cut for I Should Be So Lucky’s score, but the ones in there are certainly popular and effective choices, with a medley of the finest cuts acting as a too good to resist invitation for the captive audience to get on their feet and sing them back word perfect.

I Should Be So Lucky is the theatrical equivalent of a hen do. It’s somewhat unpredictable, is a real hoot and has a soundtrack that could come straight from the speakers of a party bus. With impressive sets, slick staging and some attention grabbing choreography from Strictly mastermind Jason Gilkison, it’s a theatrical guilty pleasure you can’t fail to fall in love with.

Like a glass of Kylie rose, it’s fruity, it goes down well and over consumption will have you channelling your inner diva.

*I Should Be So Lucky is at Sunderland Empire until April 27. Head to ATG Tickets for availability and to book.

View news Source: https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/whats-on/theatre-news/i-should-be-lucky-sunderland-29042109

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