Club Tropicana star Joe McElderry on beating The X Factor stigma
PUBLISHED: 13:31 20 February 2019
A blast of summer sunshine is set to brighten up the East Anglian winter as a feel-good musical celebrating the eighties comes to Norwich Theatre Royal.
Former X Factor favourite Joe McElderry cannot wait to bring the comedy and laughter of Club Tropicana to the stage and tells Michael de Burca the show is a lot of fun.
It might be 10 years since Joe McElderry, then a fresh faced 18-year-old, took X Factor and the nation by storm with his chart-topping rendition of The Climb but the enthusiasm, passion and energy that endeared him to millions of viewers in 2009 remains undiminished.
Joe stars as Garry, a club rep with an eye for the outrageous in the new musical coming to the theatre from February 25 to March 2.
“He’s camp, he’s witty, very flamboyant and quite sassy,” laughs the 27-year-old from South Shields.
He continues, “I’ve never played a comedy role before but it’s been really fun. At first I was really nervous but I’m excited by it now.”
He thinks for a moment, then confesses, “There’s no rules with Garry, he’s probably me after four or five vodkas.”
Set to a soundtrack of some of the most iconic and chart-topping hits of the decade, the story unfolds in the vibrant Club Tropicana Hotel, the 1980s answer to Love Island.
When a budding bride and groom get cold feet, they decide to jet off to sunnier climes and feel the heat anyway - but little do they realise they’ve checked into the same hotel, and that hotel is about to get a visit from the hotel inspectors.
So while the sizzling summer season at Club Tropicana sees drinks flowing and tans glowing, will the young lovers decide to go through with the wedding? And will the hotel inspectors finally get their way and close the resort, or can the staff save the day?
McElderry is joined by a stellar cast including ex-EastEnder Neil McDermott, top impressionist Kate Robbins and former Sugababe Amelle Berrabah, making her musical theatre debut.
Born in 1991, McElderry just missed out on the eighties himself but nonetheless he admits they left a massive impression on him.
“Club Tropicana has a great story line. It’s a great fun, family-friendly show that you can come along to and sing-a-long to.
“It’s feel-good and I’ve realised that eighties music is still massively relevant and that I know most of the songs.
“I don’t remember them being played over the radio but subconsciously I must have heard them many, many times because when we first had a read through of the show, I found I knew not just the tunes but the lyrics to nearly all of them.”
Club Tropicana is just the latest in a long line of projects to have kept the singer busy in the decade since winning X Factor.
Looking back, he smiles: “It’s mad because when I first started in the industry I was looking for some sort of longevity.
“People always used to ask me what I wanted to do and I always used to say I want to still be doing this in 10 years. The fact that I am is crazy.”
McElderry’s musical theatre career took off in 2015 when he was cast in the title role of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
He played the part on and off for two and a half years, winning rave reviews for his performance.
“Joseph was a challenge because I was stepping into an iconic role that lots of very famous people have become very loved for playing, Philip Schofield, Jason Donovan, Donny Osmond and the rest.
“I’d seen them and grew up with them playing Joseph so I realised the weight of the role I was taking on. He laughs, “I didn’t want to be the worst person to play it.”
McElderry was, and still is, aware of the stigma that comes with being discovered on a TV talent show and was determined to prove that he was the right person for the job.
“Coming from a show like X Factor I wanted people to come to the show and say, ‘He deserves to be in that role and isn’t there because he was in X Factor.
“I didn’t want to be one of those people just put in the job to sell tickets so I felt the pressure to be good and worked really hard.”
Club Tropicana The Musical runs at Norwich Theatre Royal from February 25 to 28 and tickets cost from £10 to £39.50,
To book, log onto theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk or call the box office on 01603 630000.
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