The plot, such as it is for this stage show, is very much drafted from an episode of Fawlty Towers, and made a great deal more adult with its humour. The hotel manager, Joyce Temple-Savage (a sharp performance by Sherrie Hewson) gets wind that a hotel inspector is in, and the scene is set for seeking them out and all the obvious cases of mistaken identity. It's thin and doesn't fill the show, but this mostly doesn't matter, as this show is mostly about the characters.
The cast consists of six from the original series and a collection of new ones to flesh out both the requirements of the production and its loose plot. Those not aware of who the original cast is, are easily alerted by whoops and applause from the audience when they make their entrance. It's something that I could have done without, and best left in the pantomime environment.
Jake Canuso as Mateo also has a limited amount to do other than look handsome, which I guess is mostly his role anyway. However, he provides some great dance moves (much what he did before Benidorm, it appears from his biog), and sports a suspiciously bulging pair of speedos at one point. If it really is shaped like that, I recommend seeing a doctor for likely hernia diagnosis.
Musical numbers, of which there are a few, as this attempts to be part-comedy and part-musical, are generally performed by Asa Elliott, playing himself. Asa's greatest fame it seems, beyond Benidorm, is appearing as Bobby Vee on Stars in their Eyes back in 2004, which actually is quite a shame as he has a great stage presence, delivers his numbers with nice charisma and has an excellent voice. His Bobby Vee moment of performing Rubber Ball, however, is gloriously stolen by Janine Duvitski as Jacqueline.
Mark Walters brilliant set evokes all the cartoonish aspect of Benidorm as well, from its initial welcoming backdrop of the entrance doors of the hotel surrounded above with tiny representations of the windows and balconies. Also stripped either side are lovely distorted hotels as well. A revolve, implemented in the first act easily switches us from location to location, and despite this relative good speed of change as a result, director Ed Curtis and choreographer Alan Harding still fill this brief moment with random little dance routines from the hotel staff, to stop any interest waning. Harding's work in this is actually very likeable, scenes of dance have a lovely entertaining feel, and make their mark early with the dance routine featuring Canuso and Adele-Turner and the gentleman cast.
Well deserving returning Solana to its four-star status.
Performance reviewed: Monday 15th October 2018 at Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes.
Benidorm Live runs at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 20th October 2018 before continuing its tour. Details at http://www.benidormonstage.com/
For further details about Milton Keynes Theatre can be found at http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/milton-keynes-theatre/
Photos: Paul Coltas