Benidorm at Leeds Grand Theatre Review

The Benidorm Live stage show perfectly combines comedy, cheese and theatricality, making this not only a really good laugh – but a genuinely impressive production. This isn’t a stage adaptation of the classic hit TV series – it’s a progression and evolvement of the show. It provides a whole new plot, new characters and new jokes whilst still retaining the joyous nature of the TV series we all know and love.

Some of the show’s classic characters are out in force, including the ever-sleazy Mateo (Jake Canuso), silly swinger Jaqueline (Janine Duvitski), the totally-not-gay Liam (Adam Gillen), the totally-very-gay Kenneth (Tony Maudsley), Solana Manageress Joyce Temple-Savage (Sherrie Hewson) and hotel worker Sam (Shelley Longworth). The show also welcomes a host of new faces. Stuck-up married couple Sophie and Ben (Tricia Adele-Turner and Bradley Clarkson retrospectively), new hotel staff member Ricky (Will Jennings) and the hilarious Derek (Damian Williams) provide a real variety and give well-known characters new people to play against and varied situations to get involved in.

Writer Derren Litten has done an absolutely cracking job with the script. It has the heart and humour of the TV series but with exaggerated comedic scenes and cleverly timed to suit a live audience. Janine Duvitski as Jacqueline really plays up to the audience and her crude character is just hilarious. The scenes between Kenneth and Derek also bring the house down – new cast member Damian Williams as Derek is an absolute treat and the show really benefits from his exuberant performance. There are a few moments of seriousness and the concert-style performance at Neptune’s Bar seems like a talent showcase for members of the cast who want to prove they’ve got more to give than a star-billing on a tacky TV show. I think perhaps Jake Canuso (Mateo) takes himself a little too seriously, but his suave character still attracts more than a few laughs.

There is an ideal blend between script and song, with well-known tunes peppering the action to provide a bit of a light-hearted break. It’s essentially a show crammed with joke after joke, so songs, dance routines and slick scene changes help provide the down-time needed for the audience to really invest in the comedy.  It’s a faultless production with a genuine plot, a mix of humour to suit most senses and a cracking A-team of a cast that all bounce off each other. It’s clear they’re having just as much fun as we are!

It reminds me of a summer-themed Pantomime in style, with the adult humour taking the cartoon-esque edge off. Whether you’re a fan of the series or not, Benidorm Live is well worth a watch. However, if you love the show and its favourite characters you’ll be absolutely charmed by the audience’s cheers of appreciation for each of the famous cast members. It’s a heartwarming production that will have you laughing and smiling long after you’ve left the theatre.

Benidorm Live runs at Leeds Grand Theatre until 23rd March. Get your tickets here!

Photograph credited to Paul Coltas

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