Set in a heart-shaped, balloon-covered stage, it’s clear from the start that this loosely Stock Aitken Waterman-themed musical is going to be a fluffy pink romp through the themes of love, loss and family, as Northern lass Ella (Lucie-Mae Sumner) prepares for her wedding to Nathan (Billy Roberts) in her very pink bedroom. However, the path of true love does not run smooth for these star-crossed lovers, and Nathan jilts Ella at the altar over a bizarre misunderstanding following a conversation with his senile grandfather.
This is a story about friendship and being there for each other, and when Ella’s wedding dreams are crushed, her motley crew of family and friends rally round and decide to accompany her on the honeymoon to Turkey, which has already been paid for by the hapless Nathan. Throughout her trials and tribulations, Ella seeks the advice of her fairy godmother, voiced by the princess of pop herself, Kylie Minogue. Kylie appears in Ella’s mirrors, full of motivational advice and reminders to “be strong”, “be beautiful” and “be fabulous”.
Once Ella and her entourage arrive in Turkey, the scene is set for an outlandish series of romantic encounters and comedic misunderstandings featuring new suitors, old flames and love triangles, all set to the frenetic beats of thirty of Stock, Aitken and Waterman’s late 80s and early 90s hits. The show features eight Kylie singles and no less than 10 number ones, including Bananarama’s Guilty and Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up. The earworm of the night for me was the long-forgotten Toy Boy – originally sung by Sinitta, resurrected joyfully and with astonishing energy by Scott Paige in his role as larger-than-life Michael.
The set design is magical: in scenes set in Turkey, Andrzej Goulding’s video backdrops of sunsets, hot-air balloon rides, stormy seas and starlit skies are to die for. This, too, is a truly diverse cast, with all sizes, ages and ethnicities represented; Debbie Isitt’s writing and Strictly Come Dancing’s Jason Gilkisson’s choreography gives each a chance to shine. There are some fantastic ensemble performances – especially to Mel & Kim’s Respectable and I Should Be So Lucky itself – as well as some wonderful solos.
Bridesmaid Bonnie (Kayla Carter) gives a heartrendingly sad performance of Sonia’s You’ll Never Stop Me From Loving You as she laments her secret love for best man Ash (Giovanni Spano) – who, with Nathan, brings the house down with a bizarre, hilarious version of Dead Or Alive’s You Spin Me Round. Sung in a Turkish nightclub, the pair are resplendent in huge mullets and moustaches, with cod-Russian accents.
It has to be said that some of the humour is distinctly trashy – the Turkish masseur offers “Indian head” and the proverbial “back, sack and crack” wax, not to mention several off-colour references to Grandma’s missing vajazzle; even the airport gate is number 69 – but the overall warm-heartedness of the production makes up for the crass innuendos. A gloriously light-hearted cheesefest of 80s nostalgia, I Should Be So Lucky will have you dancing in the aisles.
I Should Be So Lucky, Wales Millenium Centre, Cardiff, Bay, Tue 28 Nov
On until Sat 2 Dec. Tickets: £16-£58. Info: here
words SARAH EDWARDS