I SHOULD BE SO LUCKY with Sound Design from BEN HARRISON opens at The Manchester Opera House ★★★★★

Manchester Evening News
5 stars out of 5
“A warm comforting hug” – I Should Be So Lucky musical featuring Kylie cameo is another smash hit for Stock Aitken and Waterman
“An utter joy from its shimmering start to confetti finish”

With driving rain soaking theatre-goers to the bone on the way into Manchester Opera House on Tuesday night, brand new musical I Should Be So Lucky was just the warm, comforting hug of a show that we all needed. Indeed, this world premiere production is an utter joy from its shimmering start to confetti finish. It helps if you’re a fan of Stock Aitken and Waterman’s impressive back catalogue, of course – the pop hitmakers behind the classics 80s and 90s hits of the likes of Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Rick Astley and Sonia (who was in the audience on opening night). This show features a dizzying roster of their biggest hits – as well as some forgotten gems – in a frenetic fizz of a musical that never moves at less than full pelt.
It features a true ensemble of superb singers and dancers – and particularly pleasing is the sheer diversity of cast in body, mind and voice up on stage. It sends an important message that it’s a show for all, with the universal themes of love, loss and laughter at its heart. Oh and not forgetting a cameo from Kylie herself of course. She appears in fabulous figment form as a kind of fairy godmother in a mirror sending the message of “You are strong, you are beautiful, you are fabulous”.

The scene is set, from the off, with giant hearts across the stage as young couple Ella (Lucie-Mae Sumner) and Nathan (Billy Roberts) are preparing for their wedding. Nathan is clearly suffering some wedding jitters, that culminate in him jilting poor Ella at the altar. Ella’s family and friends swiftly rally around her – and her gran suggests they just go on her exotic honeymoon to Turkey anyway, to which all and sundry agree they’ll go as well. Cue their camp arrival all in pink to the picture perfect seaside resort which is brought so vividly to life you feel as if you’re joining them as the waves lap the beach. Yes, it might sound a bit cheesy, but somehow the utterly brilliant performances from the cast make this story from Debbie Isitt all just work so well. They bring out the tender moments as well as the humour, in what is a true laugh out loud kind of show.

As for the music, well there are some brilliant ensemble performances of some of SAW’s biggest hits. You can expect to hear the likes of Especially For You, I Should Be So Lucky and Together Forever reappear at key moments. Standouts for me were an astonishing belt out of Never Too Late from Giovanni Spano as Nathan’s best man Ash, and the pals’ completely hilarious reimagining of Dead or Alive’s You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) at a Turkish nightclub. The nightclub is also the scene for a magical segue of Mel and Kim’s classics Showing Out and Respectable.
Leading lady Lucie-Mae Sumner as Ella also puts in a performance Kylie would be proud of with her stunning vocals, particularly when she lives her own pop star dream as Kylie herself looks on through the mirror to Bananarama’s Venus. While special mention goes to Scott Paige for his amazing energy and true comedy bones as Michael who finds love in the most painful of ways with tough masseuse Hassan (Ralph Bogard).

Super producers Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman scored an impressive 13 number ones with their pop classics in the 80s and 90s. And they’ve got themselves another smash hit with this show – they joined the show’s stars to lap up the standing ovation on opening night. If you’re aiming to banish the Winter blues in Manchester you could do worse than booking a ticket for this show. It’s a heart-shaped rubber ring that will leave you floating away in a sea of contentment.

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