A Y'Viva Espana finale from the cast to send you home with a smile. Pictures: Paul Coltas

Benidorm - live

The Alexandra Theatre


First a confession – I have never seen an episode of Benidorm, one of the many omissions in my life as a result of spending so much time haunting theatres - so this was all new to me.

So, for the benefit of other Benidorm virgins, what is it? Well, Shakespeare it ain’t and the musical bit is more at the cheesy rather than Sondheim end – this is a Costa Blanca three star package-tour hotel with karaoke nights remember - but by golly it’s great fun with enough laughs to carry you through to Christmas and beyond.

A word of warning though. If you have a maiden aunt who likes a festive trip to the theatre and thinks sex is what people in Solihull have their coal delivered in . . . then best tell her the Alex is closed for refurbishment – either that or put a few extra quid on her life insurance.

This is Donald McGill on speed, more saucy than an HP factory and more innuendo than you could shake a double entendre at, and you have more than enough double entendres to pick from.

As for political correctness? Let’s just say it will give PC’s po-faced, humourless disciples a severe attack of the vapours.

blow boys

Tony Maudsley as Kenneth and Adam Gillen as Liam in the Blow & Go

The plot is simple; the Solano, a somewhat run-down, badly managed, once four, now three star and probably still falling, all-inclusive establishment  is set to be taken over by a large hotel group and the manager, Joyce Temple-Savage, has discovered an undercover hotel inspector is staying there so, if they carry on as usual, their normal service with a shrug, all their jobs could be on the line.

So, treating the other guests with their usual indifference bordering on insolence, they go all out to impress the inspector and his wife, treating them like royalty . . . except they are not the inspectors, so switch to Plan B, which is Plan A inflicted on someone else . . . except the someone else is not . . . it’s a bit like Groundhog Day with Amber Solaire.

And behind the inspectoral sycophancy are the staff led by Mrs Temple-Savage, played with a delightfully false refinement by Sherrie Hewson when speaking to guests – at least those who could be inspectors – with a more earthy approach to anyone else.

You don’t need to have seen Benidorm to know Hewson, the wonderfully inept manager, is one of the stars of the TV show, every one of the small screen stars on stage were treated to rapturous applause as soon as they appeared – it was that sort of audience, up for it from the off.

And if you wanted a touch up then there was Kenneth, owner of the Blow & Go hair salon, with assistant Liam. Kenneth is beautifully played by Tony Maudsley, as camp as a scout jamboree, with some wonderful lines, while Adam Gillen gives a terrific performance as Liam.

The pair are in their TV roles with Maudsley big and camp, with a smutty line in T-shirts and Gillen small and not gay as he keeps telling us, all angular, up tight and very funny. He produces an excruciating version of Unforgettable. It takes great skill to sing that badly out of tune well, if you see what I mean, and his dance moves were out of this world, electrifying . . . .electrifying as if he was getting electric shocks in his legs that is. 


Janine Duvitski, superb as Jacqueline, the swinger with a twinkle in her eye 

Speaking of dancing, another regular, Jake Canuso, as the lecherous waiter Mateo, managed the only serious dance of the show with a passable flamenco. Canuso, Swiss with Italian parents, started out as a dancer and it shows. It is a lovely performance as he tries to seduce the rather posh Sophie, played by Tricia Adele-Turner, who displays a somewhat dismissive air of all things three star and especially the Solano. 

She arrives with husband Ben, a much more reasonable chap in the shape of Bradley Clarkson, having been transferred from the Solano’s four-star sister hotel which was over-booked, and, after a frosty arrival, they are mistakenly seen as the hotel inspectors.

Canuso, who turns up in a pair of budgie smugglers that would probably only hold a budgie still in it's egg, is the longest serving Benidorm cast member in the show along with Janine Duvitski as Jacqueline.

She is the real star of the night; a member of the Middlesbrough Swingers Association, with her late husband Donald, played by Kenny Ireland, an actor who sadly died four years ago, she is always on the lookout for swingers and her rendition of Bobby Vee’s hit Rubber Ball has to be seen to be believed. It’s a sort of ice cream topping dance – crushed nuts. (this double entendre lark really is catching).

She has the most glorious comic touch, her timing is impeccable, and she delivers the most suggestive lines you could imagine with angelic innocence, as if butter would not melt in her mouth, but with a twinkle in her eye that tells you she knows exactly what she is saying.

Technically they would be classed as double entendres, but practically, anyone missing the most obvious meaning behind each supposedly innocent remark, really should get out more.


Shelley Longworth as holiday rep Sam who sang with a quite lovely voice

Anyone who remembers the saucy McGill postcards of the 1950s and 60s will delight in the clever, risqué word play which Derren Litten works into the script without them ever seeming contrived or out of place.

Lines such as someone reading the menu and spotting sausages in red wine. That is followed by the remark that Jacqueline prefers a “sausage in cider”. All innocent until proven guilty or at least said out loud.

Litten wrote all 10 series of the award-winning show and not only has he written the stage show but appears in it as Gay Derek, who is seeing a therapist, and outgays even camp Kenneth.

Then there is TV’s Sam reprised by Shelley Longworth, the guest who became a holiday rep. The second act includes a cabaret as the useless staff attempt to show the quality (lack of) on offer for guests in the hotel's Neptune bar and restaurant. Show regular Asa Elliot, the Neptune’s resident singer, was a genuine Benidorm hotel and cabaret singer when spotted by the producers and fits the role perfectly sporting a fine voice.

The cabaret scene also gives others a chance to shine not on offer in the TV series, with Shelly producing a quite lovely voice, best of the evening, with a good, tight, six piece band supplying the music.

Adding a Spanish flavour  there is Ricky, the waiter and dogsbody played by Will Jennings, who is not quite who he seems while the hard working support cast gave us everything else from sceneshifters to waiters to guests.

It’s all bright and cheerful on a colourful and flexible setting from Mark Walters which revolves to change from reception to pool to Neptune all in seconds, which with Ed Curtis’s solid direction, helps keep up a cracking pace.

Fans of the TV series will love the show, they are immediately at home and in the swing of things (down Jacqueline – it’s a different swing) as soon as the theme tune plays.

For people like me, who have never seen it, it still stands quite happily on its own two feet as a very funny comedy. The fans have all the backstories, but you don’t need them to enjoy a laugh a minute show full of bizarre characters and with risqué remarks scattered through it like currants in a bun.

It is what it is, exactly what it says on the boarding pass, a bawdy night out. It’s not one for prudes but for anyone else it is great fun, with feel good factor to spare. It brightens up the winter evenings with two hours of sunshine . You head off home with a smile on your face  - and you can’t ask for more than that. To29-12-18

Roger Clarke


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