I Should Be So Lucky is a brand new jukebox musical featuring the music from songwriting trio Mike Stock, Matt Aitken, and Pete Walkman. The trio had huge success in the 80s and 90s, writing 13 UK number-one hit singles for artists like Kylie Minogue, Rick Astley and Bananarama. Their music was devised into the show by Debbie Isitt, the brains behind the Navity! movies. However, their latest show centres on Ella (Lucie-Mae Summer), a bride left at the alter, whose friends and family decide to accompany her on her honeymoon to a Turkish resort.
The show is almost farcical in nature, running through its flimsy plot at a break-neck pace, never letting up from the word go. Ella is immediately jilted and barely takes a breath after losing the love of her life before she’s whisked away and recovers from this devastating loss remarkably quickly. The rest of the performance continues to rattle through at full tilt. Blink and you’ll miss half a dozen romances, miscellaneous hot-air balloon trips, and bizarre 11th-hour plotlines that come from thin air.
The show aims to create a Mamma Mia-esque heartwarming feel, yet struggles to deliver any emotional impact. Throughout the show, we never get to see what motivates the characters, and therefore they do things without rhyme or reason, making it difficult to feel invested or sympathetic. For instance, Ella’s fleeing groom, Nathan (Billy Roberts), fails to redeem himself and win the audience back due to his unlikeable personality, which makes it hard to root for their relationship and bizarre when she takes him back. The show could succeed if it leaned harder into this nonsensical and ludicrous nature with a wink to the audience, rather than trying to present a somewhat sincere piece of theatre.
The humour throughout the show is very hit-or-miss. Many of the jokes don’t quite land and are slightly tired, with one too many references to vajazzles, although hilarity is found on occasion. The material is rickety and dialogue is often quite clunky, with lots of telling, and not showing, yet the cast do their best and have a great dynamic together.
The characters are very diverse, particularly with age, and inclusive, which is always something to be celebrated. Kayla Carter as bridesmaid Bonnie has a beautiful song in Act One that shows off her gorgeous voice and acts as one of the scarce moments of emotional sincerity. Giovanni Spanò is hilarious as the frenzied yet loyal best man Ash, most obviously at the end of Act One as he and Nathan disguise themselves as waiters after crashing the honeymoon. A particular stand out of the cast is Scott Paige as Ella’s friend Michael, as he easily brings out the comedy in the script whilst delivering a heartfelt performance. And how could you forget – Kylie Minogue makes digital appearances throughout the show, which, unfortunately, feels a little awkward and forced, and like a missed opportunity.
The show is at its best in the ensemble musical performances. Jason Gilkison’s choreography elevates the music and creates thoroughly enjoyable numbers. The sense of camp that runs throughout the show is heightened by Tom Rogers’ phenomenal costume and set design. Encased within rows of heart outlines, the set effectively utilises projections and has beautiful stylised set pieces, such as a heart-shaped cottage, which make the production feel whimsical and captivating. The costumes are vital to creating a holiday feel to the production, with a formidable array of caftans, sarongs, and garish shirts. The ‘out out’ costumes are stunning, and invite the audience into the excitement of their evening. The lighting design by Howard Hudson is also phenomenal, and expertly embellishes scenes and helps to set the mood.
Overall, I Should Be So Lucky is an entertaining rollercoaster that falls short of its jukebox predecessors due to its inadequate pacing and soap opera-style plotlines that are incompatible with its earnest presentation.
Watch the show at Manchester Opera House from November 2 – 25 2023. Grab your tickets here.