Review written by Keith Adams

26 November - 1 December at Manchester Palace Theatre

Benidorm is one of those much loved, slap-happy, fun, close-to-the-bone TV series which ran for ten series between 2007 up to as recently as 2018. It won a string of comedy awards including a BAFTA for the Best Situation Comedy in 2008.

Being a big fan of the TV series, I was a little apprehensive going to the event. There were three big questions for me. The first was ‘would the TV show transfer seamlessly to the stage’. The second was ‘how much would the absence of some of the shows key characters detract from the enjoyment of the show’. The third was ‘how would a stage accommodate the various locations (such as the salon, bar, pool and receptions area) that are utilised heavily in the show’. I was pleasantly surprised on all three counts.

The set itself had a central portion which rotated to provide the backdrops for the various on-set locations. It accommodated ‘Blow and Go’ (the salon), reception, bar, and entertainment areas seamlessly throughout the show.

The show included six of our favourite characters from the TV Show coupled with some additional new ones. The mix actually worked tremendously well and by the time the show had finished you felt that the new characters had come from the original TV series. The one character that I did miss was Tim Healy who played the lovable and hilarious Les (the transvestite). He would have fitted in perfectly with the storyline regarding his son Liam and would have definitely enhanced the show. I guess it’s difficult to get a cast like this together, especially around Christmas time!!

The show itself and the accompanying storyline lived up to the quality of the TV series. A group had purchased the Solano and sent in an undercover employee to spy on them. The staff were worried about losing their jobs. Trying to find and appease the undercover agent proved hysterical!! There were plenty of suggestive one-liners, lots of laughs and a fair bit of song not just from Asa Elliott (the professional singer in Neptune’s Bar) but an exceptional performance from Shelley Longworth (Sam the rep) who has an amazing voice.

For me, there were three outstanding performances. At times I felt I was watching the TV when watching Tony Maudsley (Kenneth from the Salon) on stage. He played his on-stage character absolutely identical to the TV one. The same could be said of Janine Duvitski (Jacqueline ‘the Swinger’) and Shelley Longworth. Not that it should detract from the excellent performance from the rest of the cast including the new cast members from which Damian Williams (Gay Derek, an acquaintance of Jacqueline) was outstanding.

So were my initial apprehensions unfounded? You bet!! By the end of the show you felt like you had indeed watched the TV show. The set, cast, storyline and comedy were all befitting of a TV series that has lasted the test of time.

The show ended with a richly deserved standing ovation for a job well done. Looking forward to the next one already!!!

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