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Review | I Should Be So Lucky | Manchester Opera House | 14/11/2023

With the sheer number of jukebox musicals, it seems unbelievable that the music of songwriting trio Mike Stock, Matt Aitken, and Pete Waterman hasn’t had the musical theatre treatment already. With over 150 million records sold, ‘The Hit Factory’ are finally bringing their music to the stage with ‘I Should Be So Lucky’.

Penned by Debbie Isitt, we meet bride to be Ella (Lucie-Mae Sumner) who is jilted at the alter by fiancé Nathan (Billy Roberts). With friends and family determined to turn life’s lemons into lemonade (or in this case, lemon drizzle cake), they decide to join her on what would have been her honeymoon in Turkey. Simply put it’s Mamma Mia meets Benidorm, in the most wonderful way.

I Should Be So Lucky is packed with nostalgia whilst still feeling current, and not just through the music. As widely reported, Kylie appears digitally throughout the show as a fairy godmother figure seen through Ella’s mirror. This is as cheesy as it sounds, but in the best possible way. You weren’t expecting a Stock Aitken Waterman musical to not be camp and cheese were you? It is not only digitally that Kylie’s presence is felt, with Kylie easter eggs littered throughout from wi-fi codes to costuming.

Audiences don’t go into these sorts of shows expecting the writing of Oscar Wilde or complexities of Tennessee Williams, as such the book itself is unapologetically simple and fun. It is however the warmth through the variety of the various subplots that keeps the audience entertained. With a diverse cast of different races, sizes and ages, you will be able to see yourself or someone you know in the characters on stage. Local references land well with the Manchester crowd, I am sure these will alter and develop further as the tour continues. The trivialisation of the struggles that gay people face in Turkey however felt disappointing and could have been rectified with simple changes to the book.

Although the iconic music will inevitably pull the crowds in, you don’t have to be familiar with the Stock Aitken Waterman classics to enjoy the show. The songs fit perfectly into the narrative and feel like they have been written specifically for the musical itself. So much of the music hits completely differently in the context of the show, demonstrating what a great jukebox musical should be. In particular Kayla Carter (Bonnie) reinvents Sonia’s ‘You’ll Never Stop Me From Loving You’ from disco banger into the ultimate goosebump inducing eleven o’clock number. You will smile from ear-to-ear watching the lively rendition of ‘Respectable’ performed in preparation for a night on the tiles. These big numbers are wonderfully complemented by Jason Gilkison’s energetic choreography which ensures the audience have as much fun as those on stage. None more so than the crowd pleasing megamix at the end which had the entire auditorium on their feet!

What sets this show apart however is its stellar cast. Stealing the show is Jamie Chapman as Hotel Manager Spencer. Taking Ella under his wing, he has an endearing warmth whilst possessing ‘drag queen energy’ and humour. The ever hilarious Scott Paige shines as brides-man Michael, with massage scenes with Hassan (Ralph Bogard) having the audience in absolute stitches.

This is a show that knows what it is and really leans in to it. Full of heart, this camp extravaganza is undoubtedly the feel good show of the year. I Should Be So Lucky' is on at Manchester Opera House until Saturday 25 November 2023, before touring the country well into 2024.

Note: My ticket was gifted. Irrespective of whether a show is gifted or bought, I always ensure that my reviews are fair and based on my honest opinion alone.


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