Eurobeat, the glorious celebration of everything Eurovision, heralds the dawn of the interactive musical as the audience vote for their favourite song via text messaging*.
THE METRO – August 2007
Oh God – a musical tribute to Eurovision? Yep, predictably this noisy, rabble-rousing spectacle – ten songs, a recorded introduction by Wogan, ridiculous outfits, voting by mobile to finish – is about as camp as Graham Norton listening to Bucks Fizz in a camper van.
The ten songs are cartoonish, shambolic delights: Russia have a boy band dubbed ‘the new kids on the Eastern bloc’, Italy’s combines opera, rap and The Twist; Iceland’s is just plain weird.
Beyond all the catchy musical silliness, Christie and co-writer Andrew Patterson have given this show a sharp sense of humour and bags of personality. Eat your heart out, Scooch – this show’s a winner. (5 stars)
VARIETY – June 2006
Destined to become this year’s major Australian cult musical, “Eurobeat” dazzles with kitschy brilliance and beguiles with its spoofy, all-embracing multicultural humor. Auds are lapping up this interactive piece, inspired by the already hilarious Eurovision Song Contest, an elaborate annual competitive popfest telecast to millions of international viewers (but, as yet, not Stateside), including ethnically diverse Oz.
”With its sweetly naive take on national stereotypes, “Eurobeat” is an epically delirious hoot, equally engaging for those unfamiliar with the subject it’s lampooning and for those merrily in the know.
EVENING NEWS – August 2007
Even Wogan himself can’t disguise his love of Eurovision (telling the audience it’s his pension) and how could you? What’s not to love about it?
Ten songs are performed, each one a winner if truth be told….but this is not just a comedy, nor just a musical, it’s perhaps the first interactive musical. Audience members, who have already been decked out with flags, badges and clackers in the queue, text in with their choice of favourite song.
This multi-cultural spoof is fantastically over the top and gloriously kitsch. The creators have taken everything that’s bad about Eurovision and made it brilliant. A very, very long run at the West End is surely destined to follow. (5 stars)
THE SCOTSMAN – August 2007
This show is aptly named….Eurobeat does, with affection, charm, and lashings of camp….Eurobeat is a very silly show, perfect for a drunken night out, but it’s also a deceptively clever one, equally enjoyable sober. Trusting its audience to get the joke, it is almost never more OTT than it needs to be. (4 stars)
NEW ADDINGTON ADVERTISER (Wimbledon) – April 2008
Everyone knows the Eurovision song contest is as camp as a boy scout jamboree, bring together all the most unfortunate excesses that showbiz has to offer. And, strange but true this is a musical tribute to the whole crazy thing! A big hit on the Edinburgh Fringe last year and also a success in Oz, it translates unbelievably brilliantly to provincial theatre and makes a wacky night out. You might think it impossible to lampoon an event which is widely regarded as a parody of itself, but Eurobeat excels.
It’s glossy, load and tacky in the funniest possible way. Even Eurovision veteran Terry Wogan gets in on the act – via a televised contribution. The clever bit is that each member of the audience is invited to vote for their favourite songs by text and the results are nail-bitingly announced Eurovision style after the interval. Forget the fact that you despise the Eurovision Song Contest: Eurobeat is a riot of fun. (5 stars)
THE GUARDIAN – August 2007
After a hard day down the pit (other wise known as Traverse 2) what a girl needs is a bit of trash theatre, and Eurobeat – Almost Eurovision at Pleasance Grand hits the spot. I reckon it’s going to be one of the mega hits of the fringe…Eurobeat is already packing them in and audiences are having a ball. …Several of the songs are actually much better than real Eurovision entries and the lyrics are often a clever mix of innocence and innuendo.
….It works because it doesn’t insult the audience’s intelligence and always assumes that they will get the joke, and because the production values are high and the cast work their cotton socks off – and in some cases the rest of their wardrobes too. The famous Eurovision costume “reveal” is just one of the many Eurovision traditions spoofed, along with sour faced Eastern European presenters. No, it’s not going to change your life and it is instantly disposable, but only the terminally high minded would be inclined to award this ludicrously silly and enjoyable show nul points.
THE TIMES – August 2007
…a consistently amusing piece of musical mocker….with a spot-on new British cast, this gigantic tickle of an Australian import will almost certainly shift south of Edinburgh before too long.
…instantly, wonderfully funny….the audience participation angle is played for all its worth… at the performance I attended the crowd seemed to be on a manic high even before the house opened.
The script is laden with broad but clever satire and withering innuendo. Between them, the show’s three choreographers have devised movement that is slick and camp. The songs, delivered by a versatile and tremendously spirited young cast, are hook-filled hoots. (4 stars)
THISISLONDON.CO.UK (West End) – September 2008
Love the Eurovision Song Contest? Then see this show. Can’t bear it? Then see this show. Regardless of whether you are a fan of the annual popfest, you will love this spoof: Eurobeat, coming to the West End after being a huge hit at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe and a successful national tour, is tremendous, ridiculous, camp-as-a-row-of-Scouts fun. And if ever you wondered why Eurovision has such a continuing fascination for the UK, Eurobeat will explain why — and confirm the suspicion that anyone who doesn’t like the BBC extravaganza is a humourless snob.
Eurobeat’s creators are Australian duo Andrew Patterson and Craig Christie; the latter’s Eurovision entry a few years ago was deemed ineligible because, despite holding a UK passport, he was living in Melbourne. So revenge is sweet as we are in “sunny, safe and secure” Sarajevo, with our hosts Boyka, former Olympic pole-vault champion turned cabaret performer, and Sergei, a very dodgy-looking children’s presenter. They hate each other, but it’s all fixed smiles and false bonhomie as they effortlessly match each other with tasteless ethnic stereotyping and casual xenophobia.
A manageable 10 countries take part in the contest and, when you enter the auditorium, you will be able to choose the flag of the country you are encouraged to support (and vote for by mobile phone towards the end of proceedings). The songs are pitch-perfect parodies and the dance routines are just as overblown and cheesy as the real thing.
Mel Giedroyc (one half of Mel and Sue) as Boyka and Les Dennis as Sergei keep a straight face amid the buffoonery, while the entries really could be anything Terry Wogan might describe for us on the BBC. The great man, by the way, does a knowing cod introduction on tape.
PRESS AND JOURNAL (Aberdeen) – August 2008
There are not too many shows which inspire north-east theatre goers to get on their collective feet and perform a whooping, screaming Mexican wave.
But with Eurobeat it came as standard. And that was before the curtain went up for the official start of the performance.
Before they took their seats with flags and clackers in hand, members of the audience were issued with badges bearing the flag of one of the contending countries in the mock Eurovision contest.
Set in Sarajevo, the show is hosted by former Olympic pole vaulter Boyka, played by Mel Giedroyc of Mel and Sue fame, and comedian Norman Pace as her dimwit sidekick Sergei, a Bosnian children’s TV presenter.
Both gave fantastic performances as classically cringe-worthy Eurovision hosts, their forced flirtations made all the more comical with the trademark vowel-mangling and unflinching delivery of double entendres.
The performers for each country were top notch, with wonderful singing, dancing and costumes – albeit very much tongue-in-cheek throughout.
If you normally enjoy Eurovision, you will love Eurobeat. And if you normally scoff at the whole embarrassing concept, well, you might just change your mind once you get your badge on. Go on, get yourself a clacker and give it a go.
SOUTHERN DAILY ECHO (Southampton) – August 2008
The phrase “Royaume-Uni – douze points!” may never again be uttered on live television. But for one glorious moment last night the possibility of Team GB romping home first in the Eurovision was a very real possibility.
The memory of a velour-clad Bucks Fizz clinching victory in Dublin in the 1981 contest (with the aid of those nifty detachable skirts, of course) is still cherished by many – myself, I must confess, among them.
And it was in the spirit of the classic Eurovision years that Eurobeat – Almost Eurovision took to The Mayflower stage for a week-long whirl of boy bands, boy-girl bands and dementedly frolicking folk troupes.
Taking the form of a fictional Eurovision Song Contest, the interactive extravaganza is hosted by kids’ TV reject Sergei (Norman Pace) and former Olympic pole-vaulter Boyka (Sally Lindsay, late of Corrie). With strained bonhomie they usher on ten acts “to fart it out”, each as banal and surreal (and very, very funny) as you would expect from Eurovision. Audience members, who are badged up with a “home” country on entering the theatre, then get to text vote for their favourite song.
With political voting thus firmly off the agenda, even the UK – here represented with a sickly pop ballad sung by a cavorting duo spookily reminiscent of 2003’s Euro-duds Gemini – stood a chance of victory. (“That’s the kind of quality we have come to expect from the UK – year, after year, after year…” enthused Boyka through a rictus grin.) There was even the traditional interval entertainment, a pull-out-all-the-stops Beijing-style spectacular (we were told) representing the turbulent history of Bosnia-Herzegovena. Translation – some dancing waiters and Boyka dressed as a turnip. Frankly, we would have been disappointed with anything less.
Lindsay and Pace were just the right side of OTT as the gold lame-clad hosts, and it would be a crying shame if at least one of these songs didn’t make it into the real song contest. Estonia’s, involving some briefcase-carrying businessmen stripping to luminous Lycra underwear, would be a dead cert.
Best of all – and it just wouldn’t be the same without him – even Terry Wogan puts in an appearance (albeit it on a screen).
“But did the UK win?” I hear you ask. Don’t be silly – but with your help they might just do tonight.
MUSICAL STAGES (Brighton) – July 2008
The question may well be asked how can you send up Eurovision when the real thing has been doing it to itself for years. The answer is that the creators of Eurobeat have done it and done it exceedingly well.
The show is not great art and may lack subtlety but it is a gloriously silly celebration of all the things camp and kitsch that go to make up the Eurovision Song Contest. Nothing is spared, all is ridiculed – figure hugging flamboyant costumes that get ripped off, atrocious hairstyles and crass lyrics that are matched for cringing embarrassment by dicey choreography. The best bit of lampooning is of the naff co-presenters that are wheeled out by the host country.
In the show the contest is set in Sarajevo with local “celebrities” Boyka, who once represented her country at pole vaulting in the Moscow Olympics, and Sergi, a kiddies TV host and part time lecher, in charge of events and introductions. The vampish Boyka is played with great relish by Mel Giedroyc who employs a hilarious forced laugh and is forever putting down her co-host, played by Les Dennis. Denis is in top form as he continually adjusts a wig and his crutch whist delivering the most atrocious of puns. Between them they create mayhem with the English language as words get mangled, often creating double entendres.
Ten acts are introduced in the first half of the show with each country’s stereotype being exploited to the full. Italy’s entry manages to combine opera and rap with the twist whilst Estonia’s homo-erotic routine with suggestive hand movements was well appreciated by the Brighton audience. There are two clever pastiches – Iceland’s entry has a spoof Bjork whilst Germany’s mocks Kraftwerk and Philip Glass. My personal favourite came from Hungary where a trio in peasant dresses danced and sang about the joys of eating chicken entrails. After all the acts have been seen the audience is invited to cast their vote by texting in their choice.
Whilst the votes are being counted the second half opens with the cabaret “entertainment” that reflects the host country. “I’m Sarajevo (Taste Me)” has a turnip dancing to song that praises the said vegetable. This is followed by a round-up of the votes country by country via a telelink projected onto a screen. Again the characteristics of the country and the crassness of the commentators have fun poked at them.
The success of this show is hugely dependent upon the willingness of the audience to get involved and participate by waving flags, blowing horns and cheering their country of choice. The Brighton audience threw themselves into it full heartedly and even my wife, who is normally like a violet shrinking on speed when it comes to audience participation, fully entered into the spirit of the evening and was as enthusiastic as the best of them.
It is possible that this show could follow Rocky Horror and become a cult show.
THE ARGUS (Brighton) – July 2008
Eurovision and Brighton have had a long alliance.
The city hosted ABBA’s legendary winning performance back in 1974 and the Duke Of York’s Picturehouse has been the venue for the country’s biggest Eurovision party for the past eight years.
So Eurobeat Almost Eurovision was an inspired booking for the summer, especially during Pride week when Brighton celebrates the camp and kitsch even more than usual.
And the show does not disappoint. It is a brilliantly silly celebration of everything the UK loves about the Eurovision Song Contest, from the tight costumes and ridiculous haircuts, to the dodgy choreography and embarrassingly bad lyrics.
No national stereotype is left untouched, both during the ten performances and the results announcements that form most of the second half.
The United Kingdom’s entry is uniformly awful, the Irish offer up a heartfelt ballad complete with smoke machine, and the Germans seem to have missed the point of the competition entirely.
Particular highlights are the Hungarian entry, which seems to focus on the eating of chicken’s entrails, the Bjork-spoofing Icelandic song and the helping of Estonian homo-erotica which proved to be the audience’s favourite on Monday night.
Our guides through the competition are the vampish former Bosnian pole vaulter Boyka, played with relish and a spectacularly forced laugh by Mel Giedroyc, and embattled children’s television presenter Sergei, brought to life by a be-wigged Les Dennis on top form.
With audience text votes deciding the final outcome, you can’t help but get involved in the action, and the nail-biting countdown to the winners.
It is a perfect night out for a group of friends or for anyone counting down the days to next year’s competition in Moscow.
WEST SUSSEX GAZETTE (Brighton) – July 2008
Think of Eurovision and the words classy and brilliant don’t immediately come to mind. Thanks to the sheer entertainment value of the camp, cheesy, silly, and hilarious Eurobeat – Almost Eurovision it may yet prove cool again to go ding ding a dong about the annual song contest.
Part tribute, part affectionate send-up, part lunacy this new show (still fresh from success at last year’s Edinburgh Festival) has understandably been impressing audiences on tour and stopped off at Brighton shortly before a well-deserved short West End transfer.
Introduced from the big screen by Euromeister Terry Wogan, the evening is one of the best nights out you are likely to get this side of an Abba reunion, with 10 countries battling it out in Sarajevo for the kudos – and the audience having the chance to text in their votes.
Leading the way in this Bosnian humdinger were a tousle-toupeed Les Dennis as TV children’s presenter Sergei (there was a great joke about Amanda Holden that only a few of us seemed to get!) and the gloriously catty Mel Giedroyc as the beguiling ex-pole vaulter Boyka, who came into her own as a turnip in the post-interval entertainment, “I’m Sarajevo – Taste Me!”
There wasn’t a single weak link among the exceptionally talented and attractive company, all of whom were called upon to represent at least two national stereotypes in the contest – complete with dodgy lyrics, tight costumes (or lack of them), and brash colour.
Highlights in what must surely become a cult classic were Scott Garnham’s Irish entry (Ronan Corr singing La La La), the lycra-clad KGBoyz of Russia singing Ice Queen, Adam Charles-Hills and Natasha Jayetileke for the UK (nearly a nul points scoring I Love to Love to Love (Love) by Rayne and Sheiner), the Kraftwerk-inspired humourless non vocals of Germany’s entry, The Molnar Sisters for Hungary singing a song about the nutritional value of birds, and the fantastically outrageous Estonian entry Together Again (a super Arvid Larsen playing Toomas Jerker, supported by the Stone Hard Boys) – a popular winner on the first night.
Craig Christie and Andrew Patterson’s creation, directed by Glynn Nicholas, is one of those rare treats – sheer entertainment, top quality performances, and something you are bound to want to see again and again. Go – feast on its delights!
LITTLEHAMPTON GAZETTE (Brighton) – July 2008
There’s more cheese than you can shake a stick at, a huge dollop of campness and it really is hilarious.
Eurobeat is doing what I thought could never be done – it’s out-cheesing the Eurovision song contest it is parodying.
Theatre Royal Brighton has become sunny Sarajevo for the week for Almost Eurovision and it’s a place well worth visiting for a show bound to make you laugh.
I’d heard it was brilliant but didn’t quite know what to expect when I took my seat on July 28, with my badge telling me I was voting on behalf of Estonia.
The audience were already up for the event. They were waving flags and clackers, cheering and shouting.
Cleverly written by Craig Christie and Andrew Patterson, Eurobeat follows the basic structure of Eurovision but with the acts already cut down to the “cream” from the top 10 countries.
Taking us through the line-up were hosts Boyka (Mel Giedroyc) and Sergei (Les Dennis), giving what can only be described as truly terrific performances.
With a laugh that has to be seen, as well as heard, to be believed, former Olympic pole vaulter, lifestyle programme hostess and vamp Boyka teased and ridiculed a toupéed Sergei throughout.
While children’s TV presenter Sergei, with dodgy mispronounciations and double entendres worthy of ‘Allo ‘Allo, gave some pointed and witty introductions to each country represented.
A comedy duo made in heaven, they could not disappoint.
Wonderful performances were given by a mix and match cast of singers and dancers for each country.
The routines were executed to perfection and beautifully sung, with some easily recognisable acts being mimicked.
Sweden, of course, resembled Abba, while Iceland had a demented version of Bjork, Germany was Kraftwerk and Greece brought us Nana Mouskouri.
All things Eurovision are there – clothes are ripped off, keys change mid song and Terry Wogan makes a video appearance.
But to say too much would ruin the show for those still to see it. Before the interval for “drink-drink” and “pee-pee”, we used our mobile phones to vote.
Unable to plump for my own country, although I loved Estonia’s camp hunks who threw away their briefcases and suits, I chose the Lycra-clad boys from Russia.
The second half saw the countries returning their votes, again brought about hilariously by the ensemble.
Who was top of the leader board at the end? My vote counted. Russia came in second but top slot went to my fellow Estonians! Could there be any other winners in Brighton?
LATEST 7 (Brighton) – July 2008
Forgive me for saying this but I have tired of the frenzy of fun that surrounds the Eurovision Song Contest – or at least I thought I had. Then came the invitation to see Eurobeat.
I like the Churchill Theatre in Bromley so I was happy to drive up for the first night and find out what all the fuss is about. Yes fuss, because this show has been getting some rave notices.
If I explain the process first, things might make more sense. Eurobeat is not a play, in any conventional sense – although the cast are all playing parts. It is however a contest, in a real sense, as each night voting takes place and one entry is the winner.
The set is truly tacky, in a very intentional Eurovision way. Just as the word Eurovision draws out the very oddest music, so too it draws out the worst stage design. This set is magnificently awful.
Mel Giedroyc and Les Dennis are equally appalling, in the very best way. Their portrayals of Sarajevo’s hosts had me crying with pleasure. Giedroyc has absorbed the pure essence of a Eastern European show-host and delivers it with an unrelenting smile that occasionally turns into a grimace. Her costumes look like she has been tarred and thrown into a drag artist’s wardrobe. Aware of her as a comedian, I was unsure she would pull it off as an actor but she does – quite brilliantly.
Les Dennis is equally hilarious as her embarrasingly bad co-host, in a gold suit and ill-fitting wig. Since his appearance on Extras, Dennis has attained a new status and in Eurobeat he proves his worth. The real stars of the evening are the songs. Ten entries in all, none from France (hoorah) and all written and executed in a knicker-wettingly fine way; from cheesy ballads to weird electro pop and all points between. The cast dance and sing with conviction, despite their moves being so terrible – terrible in the very best way.
Each member of the audience is allocated a country and at the end of the first half you vote by text. It’s easy and fun. After a few drinks – you will want a few drinks – you return for the ubiquitous entertainment. Giedroyc, this time strutting her stuff in a hysterical dance number, then follows the marking with video links to each participating country.
I wanted Estonia to win and voted for them but in the end Ireland won with an awe-inspiringly awful ballad that moulded Bono with Johnny Logan and Val Doonican, the tears ran down our legs.
If you love Eurovision you will love Eurobeat. If you enjoy a good night out you will love Eurobeat, the only show that I have ever seen that actively encourages you to leave your mobile phone turned on.
EVENING POST (Nottingham) – July 2008
As Mamma Mia has shown on the big screen, the great British public under the cosh of a credit crunch want a bit of escapism when they venture out at night. Something that’s accessible, recognisable and able to banish the woes of the world for a couple of hours.
I’m pleased to report that the Royal Concert Hall is serving up just such a feast this week with the visit of Eurobeat.
Once through the doors don’t forget to pick up your badge (which denotes what country you’ll be supporting for the night), and banish all thoughts that you’re in Nottingham. This superb parody takes us to Sarajevo in the heart of Bosnia Herzegovina as they stage the finals of the Eurovision song contest.
National celebrities Sergei (Les Dennis) and Boyka (Sally Lindsay) welcome us to the delights of their homeland and introduce songs from ten European countries.
You don’t have to worry about keeping quiet in this production either, because everyone is urged to support their country as loud as they want. You can even keep your mobile phones switched on as it will come into its own when it’s time to vote for the winner.
Noisy, brash, loud, colourful and that’s just the audience Eurobeat sneaks up and grabs your funny bone when you least expect it.
The songs are written and performed in an instantly recognisable way – this really is the Eurovision song contest. We know how the acts perform because we’ve sat and listened to Terry Wogan over countless years, and look, he likes this show so much he even appears on the big screen to introduce it!
Best of all it doesn’t take itself seriously.
Eurobeat is likely the closest we’re going to get to enjoying Eurovision the way we used to – before the tactical voting ruined the competition.
A cast iron hit for all concerned. And if you don’t leave the Concert Hall with Ireland’s entry engraved on your brain, there’s no saving you.
I give it douze points
EVENING CHRONICLE (Newcastle) – July 2008
As soon as you enter the Theatre Royal you cannot help but feel the buzz of flamboyant electric excitement that runs through the air.
Fans cheer, wave their flags, clap their clappers and honk more horns than gridlocked drivers on the M4. Yes, the campest musical extravaganza since an Elton John gig has hit Newcastle and has brought a whole host of glitter, lycra, music and laughs with it in the form of Eurobeat.
Terry Wogan introduces the contest via personal video message and as usual has the audience in stitches with his now legendary commentary on Eurovision, declaring ‘this is my pension’.
As the crowd whips up a frenzy of excitement our hosts for the evening Boyka (Mel Giedroyc) and Sergei (Les Dennis) take to the stage to rapturous applause and anticipation. They say all that glitters isn’t gold, but due to Mel and Les’s brilliant comic chemistry on stage, these two hosts are certainly giving a glittering performance in their matching gold outfits.
Italy kicks off the night’s proceedings setting us in good stead for an array of performances so crazy and over the top, it’s just what we’ve all come to expect from Eurovision.
Highlights are Estonia with their businessmen come boyband who are camper than a Steps reunion gig at a Butlins holiday camp, and Germany’s answer to an adult version of the Teletubbies performing an abstract electronic dance number.
Russia’s entry, a boyband of models straight out of the movie Zoolander in more lycra than the whole of the Tour de France cyclists, also prove a smash with the audience.
Surprisingly the second half of the show in which the results are announced proves to be the most entertaining. The whole theatre is in stitches as we are played clips of guest presenters from each country’s capital city announcing their results.
Mel’s comedy background really shines through as host Boyka and shows just how talented she really is.
Les again plays his part brilliantly with poor ‘Eurovision host’ jokes that have the audience laughing at his character Sergei rather than with him. This partnership makes the comedy musical a must-see. But don’t take my word for it, go along and boogie while making your mind up!
NORFOLK EASTERN DAILY PRESS (Norwich) – June 2008
Nonsensical lyrics? Check. Off-key warbling? Check. And a huge pinch of camp? You bet.
Last night must have been one of the noisiest – and definitely the most kitsch – in the history of the Norwich Theatre Royal.
Air horns were blaring even before our hosts for the evening, former pole-vaulter Boyka and children’s TV host Sergei, had taken to the stage to introduce the countries competing in the hilarious Eurovision Song Contest spoof Eurobeat.
The show, penned by Craig Christie and Andrew Patterson, which was a huge hit at the Edinburgh Festival, is en route to the West End – and even Mr Eurovision himself, Terry Wogan, was there in spirit, intro-ducing the show via a big screen.
No country escapes unscathed – the script is cheeky, packed with witty one-liners and double entendres – and the show’s leading players, Les Dennis (complete with unruly hairpiece and spangly suit) and former Coronation Street actress Sally Lindsay (who shows off her hitherto unknown talent for doing the splits) give great comic turns.
Audience participation and flag waving is mandatory – on arrival you’re allocated a country, and once you’ve laughed and winced your way through all 10 (scarily spot-on) entries, it’s time to vote, via text, for your favourite – a great chance to put things right if you’re still smarting from Royaume Uni’s poor perform-ance in this year’s real competition.
Last night Estonia won with Together Again – memorable for the band members’ Borat-style man-kinis as much as the song itself. The votes of the EDP jury are in – Eurobeat, douze points.
NORWICH EVENING NEWS (Norwich) – June 2008
Nonsense, complete and utter nonsense – but it was brilliant nonsense at its very best.
Eurobeat: Almost Eurovision was a celebration of all things Eurovision – but even if you hate the contest you are sure to love this show.
Ten countries from across Europe try to wow the audience with their songs which range from bad to awful in costumes from the sublime to the ridiculous.
While in between the musical acts Les Dennis, doing his very best Borat impersonation, and former Coronation Street actress Sally Lindsay provided the laughs as politically incorrect show hosts Sergei and Boyka.
It was like a camp carnival inside the Theatre Royal.
Italy, Estonia, Iceland, UK, Hungary, Russia, Ireland, Greece, Germany, and Sweden all went head to head for the chance of becoming Eurobeat winners.
The audience cheered, booed, clapped their clappers, blasted their horns, and waved their flags in support of their favourite nation which was determined by a badge given to them in the theatre’s reception as they walked through the doors.
It was Estonia who emerged as eventual winners with their camp entry Together Again which, as Sergei might say, beat off stiff opposition from Russia.
Other notable acts included the UK’s Love to Love to Love which amazingly did not end up with nil points, Hungary’s bird loving Molnar Sisters, and the post post-modern entry by Nepotism from Germany which had no singing at all.
Dennis and Lindsay proved to be the perfect comedy double act with their brilliant send-up as Eurobeat hosts.
In fact it was the attention to detail which was one of the most enjoyable parts of the evening – from the TV cameo from Terry Wogan at the start of the evening to the political voting from the rest of the European nations judges it was all there.
At the end of the show Jeremy Hooke, the city’s Lord Mayor and self-confessed Eurovision fan took to the stage to thank the cast and crew for a wonderful night. It sure was.
This is a show which is not to be missed – its camp, its kitsch, and it’s a comic classic.
STIRRER (Birmingham) – June 2008
Ten years on from Birmingham hosting the 1998 ‘Comedy Show’ masquerading under the title of The Eurovision Song Contest, it’s back in the city… Well almost!.
There are a few subtle changes. The venue has moved from the cavernous National Indoor Arena to the more homely confines of the Birmingham Hippodrome.
The competing Nations have been whittled down to 10. and replacing Hosts Terry Wogan and Ulrika Johnson we have Les Dennis and Sally Lindsay.
The audience are suitably encouraged to play their part in the proceedings. They wave National Flags, click ‘Clackers’, applaud any songs deemed worthy and text their votes to choose the eventual winning song as the curtain comes down to end the first half.
What a spoof. A laugh a minute show that lampoons what has become a contest so ridiculous that no one apart from the contestants can possibly take it seriously, and even they must have their doubts?.
The scene is set. Via a big screen Mr Eurovision himself, Terry Wogan, welcomes the audience with his usual combination of witty perceptive outlook on the coming proceedings.
Reminding them to ensure their Mobile phones are switched on so they can vote for favourite song and stressing they cannot vote for their own Country. (.In this case the Lapel Pin Badge bearing one of the Countries names, chosen as they’d entered the Theatre).
This year the host nation is Bosnia Herzegovina . The City awarded the ‘honour’ of presenting the contest being Sarajevo .
Sally Lindsay and Les Dennis wickedly ‘send up’ everything and anyone connected with an annual contest that down the years has become the butt of Eurovision critics everywhere. She is Boyka, an Olympic Pole Vaulter who vainly tries to hold the ridiculous contest together with the help of her male counterpart Sergi.
The songs come thick and fast, each in turn composed as a vehicle to underline some of the most ‘camp’ performances imaginable.
The Iceland entry are five girls, one making her entrance resembling a Silver clad Dalek. The Estonian participants are three dancing guys carrying .brief cases who finish their routine with an imitation of ‘Buck’ Fizz’ as they whip off their pants amid whooping applause.
The Germans? Ah yes the Germans the methodical Nation who pride themselves on attention to detail whatever the competition.
Sadly this time their multi clad trio of singers had been left with the impossible test of attempting to win a song contest with a music only entry!
My favourite, and I can’t remember them all in detail, was Ireland ’s. A male entrant singing a typical ballad that on numerous occasions has been adjudged the winners of the ‘genuine’ Eurovision. Song contest.
Laughs aloud as the stage is slowly filled with a heavy mist leaving him completely immersed and having to switch on a Miners headlight to find his way back to the front of stage. Truly hilarious.
On to the voting itself and a subtle dig as Sergi announces “This is a genuine vote, not like the National Comedy Awards” Ouch!
BIRMINGHAM MAIL (Birmingham) – June 2008
This is the ultimate in audience participation!
Clackers, horns and national flags were swung, blown and waved constantly throughout this spoof Eurovision show.
And the winning act is chosen each night by the audience’s text votes.
This is so cheesy, and tongue-in-cheek, that it is positively entertaining, taking the worst of Eurovision and making it funny.
An energetic cast sings and dances well throughout, from ‘Russian’ entry KG Boyz to Abba-inspired ‘Swedish’ outfit Avla.
But the real stars of the show are undoubtedly Les Dennis and ex-Corrie actress Sally Lindsay as over-the-top Sarajevo hosts Sergei and Boyka.
BIRMINGHAM POST (Birmingham) – June 2008
There are some things, surely, which are beyond parody – and until seeing this show I would have felt pretty confident in saying the Eurovision Song Contest was one of them.
But having started in a sceptical, not to say bemused, state of mind, I quickly found myself being won over by Craig Christie and Andrew Patterson’s brilliant spoof.
It has two powerful things going for it. One is that Christie and Patterson have managed to hit an extremely difficult target, finding just the right satirical touch where too little would have made it pointless and too much would have made it laboured. The other is the talent and enthusiasm of the performers.
Les Dennis, in shiny yellow suit, and former Coronation Street star Sally Lindsay do a good job as the Bosnian hosts with a linking script littered with corny double entendres, both intentional and not. But the ensemble of singers and dancers are the real stars as they whizz through beautifully crafted specimens of Euro-trash.
Bjork gets a cuff round the ear with the atonal robotics of Iceland’s entry, Love Ballad No 3a by Greta Grollmersdetter, unassuming Irish charm is consigned to the Celtic mists in La La La by Ronan Corr, and new-wave Russian machismo threatens to burst its lycra in Ice Queen by muscly boyband KGBoyz.
And this is a real competition. Audience members are allocated countries on arrival, and can vote by mobile phone, so the votes read out by reporters standing in front of the Kremlin or Big Ben in the second half are actually those cast in the house.
Monday’s winner was Estonia with the extremely catchy, superbly choreographed and outrageously camp Together Again, by Toomas Jerker and the Stone Hard Boys. But who knows who else might triumph during the week? For once, don’t forget to take your mobile to the theatre.
ONE4REVIEW (Edinburgh) – June 2008
Ok I know the world is going a little crazy, but when life imitates art (or is it art imitating life?), it gets a little too much even for me.
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a bit of a saddo where music is concerned. Yes I actually watch “The Eurovision Song Contest” and the two qualifying rounds, pen and pencil in hand giving each performance marks, but when watching the superb “Eurobeat – Almost Eurovision” did the final results have to be quite so similar??? Russia winning, with my beloved Greece in third place (I demand a recount!!!)
We are welcomed to Sarajevo in the heartland of Bosnia Herzegovina by Boyka – ex-Olympian turned TV presenter – and her co-host Sergei. Sergei’s claim to fame is that he presents the countries only chil-ren’s TV show daily – this is his first opportunity to show his adult side?! Between the two of them they present the top songs from 10 Eurovision Countries, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Russia, Sweden and the UK. Not that there weren’t others who entered, but they were not fit for audience consumption. The song presented by each of the above countries display remnants of what are the best and worst efforts from past contests. Without being told what country each specific performance originates it is easily guessed by looking at the costumes, listening to the tune and the lyrics who is who. This is a brilliantly observed and presented premise with little comedic additions surreptitiously included in each segment. In my opinion all bar one of these offerings could win the traditional original contest.
The cast of performers on stage are some of the brightest and best we have seen together for some time, this basic core of 14 who perform all the songs from the ten different countries along with the technical team and stage management are joined by various front men (and women) giving the show completely different flavours throughout.
During Edinburgh, and previously in Glasgow the stunning, vivacious Sally Lindsay as Boyka is joined by the debonair and, dare I actually say it, sexy Craig Hill. Kiltless for once, Mr Hill is gorgeous in his white suit rivalling some of the sexy lycra and spandex clad dancers he introduces. In this combination we have a well respected actress who proves she can do comedy with the best and a Scottish comedy genius getting to display his acting ability.
Eurobeat has been a resounding success in Australia where it was created by Craig Christie and Andrew Patterson. It also scored a cult following during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2007 and has now started a UK tour prior to assaulting London’s West End, where I think it should do great business. As for the cult following thing, well, Geoff and I were not the only people in the audience wearing costumes referring to the nation we were following. You are encouraged to purchase flags, clappers, horns, badges and make as much noise in encouragement as possible. We also get to keep our mobiles on to vote for our chosen winner. It is theoretically possible to have a different winner each night.
Eurobeat does not take itself seriously (most of the time) and is a complete mickey-take of an institution which is sadly losing popularity. If anything “Eurobeat – Almost Eurovision” has much more of the original spirit of the event than its almost outmoded inspiration.
With a well-written lib, which produces several songs you just can’t get out of your head, superb choreography, a mix of both kitsch camp costumes and some superb haute-couture, this is an ideal night out for a great time whether you actually like the original or not.
TELEGRAPH & ARGUS (Bradford) – May 2008
We suffered bitter humiliation in Belgrade on Saturday but tonight, when Eurovision came to Bradford, the UK got sweet revenge – by coming a close second to Estonia. It’s a big douze points for Eurobeat, a hilariously affectionate spoof of the song contest we hate to love, and way more entertaining than the real thing.
It’s the first-ever interactive musical and for the audience there was a lovely sense of ownership as, armed with flags and clackers, we cheered on our adopted countries and texted our votes. “I haven’t laughed so much in ages!” cried a woman near me, dutifully waving her Sweden flag.
Billy Pearce, as you’ve never seen him before, was a gem as Bosnian presenter Sergei. And Mel Giedroyc was fabulous as co-host Boyka, former pole-vaulting champion turned lifestyle presenter. Her facial expressions alone had us in stitches. This was a hugely feelgood show, featuring gloriously Eurotrashy acts. There was Italy’s Vesuvia Versace, featuring rapper 50 Lire, seamlessly blending opera, hip-hop and the Twist’; Russian boyband KG Boyz in skin-tight white Lycra; Ireland’s lesser-known Corr brother urging us to wave our flags for world peace’ and a barking-mad child/woman from Iceland. The UK’s entry was chavtastic duo Reyne and Sheiner, with harmonies as dodgy as their stone-washed denim.
When the scoring got underway we were well ahead along with, er, Russia. We lost out to an eye-wateringly camp quartet but, hey, that’s Eurovision.
WHAT’S ON STAGE . COM (Salford) – May 2008
Thank heavens for Terry Wogan… now you can also thank Craig Christie and Andrew Patterson, the writers of the hilarious new spoof musical, Eurobeat, for capturing the sheer lunacy of this crazy competition.
As soon as you see Wogan on video introducing the show, you are in, ready to wave your flag, cheer on your assigned country and wallow in the zany spectacle that awaits you.
What about the controversial neighbourly voting? Well, you get the chance to vote for your favorites, but as any Eurovision fan knows, you cannot vote for your own country. Before the votes are counted, you also get to see what musical artistry Sarajevo has to offer in the form of Boyka, dressed as a turnip, surrounded by camp dancers!
As you can probably tell, this show is a complete blast. It helps if you are an Eurovision addict, but there is much to enjoy here even if you haven’t sat through the delights of the oddest show on the box.
The hard working cast play a multitude of roles, changing costumes, wigs and accents at the speed of light, getting it right each and every time.
It’s worth seeing for the glorious Giedroyc alone. As for the so bad they are really good songs; 12 points! (4 stars)
MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS (Salford) – May 2008
…the crowd, armed with clappers, klaxons and every other sort of noise-making device known to women of a certain age and gay men, are raucously determined to put on their own show anyway, despite Terry Wogan’s filmed threat of ‘genital cuffs’.
The songs and their presentation tend to be witty and smutty in equal measure, although some of them might be a bit too clever and accurate for their own good!
It’s presented, allegedly, from Sarajevo (hence lots of goat gags, surely the international language of comedy!) by the gorgeous former athlete Boyka and Bosnian childrens’ TV presenter Sergei, it boasts a succession of preposterous songs but colourfully terrible turns, and it’s all loud, fast and thoroughly foolish – what’s not to like? (4 stars)
GLITZ MAGAZINE (Stoke) – May 2008
It’s bad enough sitting through it every year on TV – so why would anyone want to pay good money to see a spoofed-up stage version of the Eurovision Song Contest?
That’s what I wondered as I made my way into the lavish Regent Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent, amid excited Eurovision fans, many of them clutching national flags in support of their favoured country.
However, after a few minutes, I started to see the appeal of this show, Eurobeat, and was soon caught up in its passion, silliness and sheer bonhomie.
Yes, it’s camp and corny but it is also hugely enjoyable.
It’s just like a shortened version of the real thing and even has a video message from Mr Eurovision himself, Terry Wogan, urging us to sit back and wallow in the nonsense of it all.
The star of this joyous musical is Mel Giedroyc, of Mel and Sue fame. She is brilliant as Bosnian co-host Boyka, whose job it is with East European children’s’ presenter Sergei (Gareth Hale) to introduce the acts from ten competing countries, her fractured English providing some of the best lines of the evening.
The acts themselves are deliberately dire, but performed perfectly by the talented company. Among the comic highlights are the Irish entry getting lost in the dry-ice and a Nana Mouskouri look-alike, representing Greece, suddenly losing her innocence…and her drab clothes!
We are treated to the traditional interval cabaret and then have the `excitement’ of the voting, complete with gushing representatives from around Europe congratulating Boyka and Sergei on doing such a marvellous job.
Nothing can ever be quite as funny or as bad as the real Eurovision but Eurobeat, which began life at the Edinburgh Festival, is a worthy Euro-winner. Catch it ahead of its move to the West End.
THE SENTINEL (Stoke) – May 2008
EVEN more cheesy than the real thing (yes, it is possible) Eurobeat, which opened at the Regent Theatre last night, takes good taste to new depths in this hilarious send up of the Eurovision song contest.
The audience are treated as spectators at Sarajevo Eurovision. Flag flying, cheering and whistle blowing is expected – and proves a great way to build the atmosphere as the show begins. Following a televised contribution from Terry Wogan, hosts for the evening Sergie and Boyka, pictured, (famous faces from TV Gareth Hale and Mel Giedroyc), introduce 10 musical acts, each promoting their homeland and competing for the coveted Eurovision cup.
There was certainly no shortage of glitter, white teeth and battling egos as we enjoyed the performances of an Italian operatic rapper, the KGBoyz from Russia, Ronan Carr – an Irish ballad singer who gets lost in his own dry ice, a Swedish foursome called Alva and a scary Icelandic diva who screeched a lot (who might that remind you of…) to name just a few.
In the second half, tension grew as the voting started, using television footage from around the world and “behind the scenes” looks at the reactions of the various artistes.
The set was as one might expect for such a prestigious event, with impressive lighting, and special effects such as bubbles and golden rain. The wardrobe department clearly had a ball with a no holds barred opportunity to produce deliciously over the top costumes.
It was great fun as a member of the audience to actually vote – but what a tough decision with so much talent. In the end I chose Estonia’s’ muscle bound Toomas Jerker and the Stone Hard Boys. I was really impressed by their quality song and not influenced by their fluorescent extra tight shorts, at all.
Hosts (Hale and Giedroyc) were true stars, gluing the evening together with gags, gaffs and innuendo – the subtlety of which could be easily missed. Eurobeat is a musical with a difference and a great night out.
WESTERN MAIL (Cardiff) – April 2008
Walking into the Donald Gordon Theatre at the Wales Millennium Centre, it seemed like Eurovision really had come to Cardiff. Air horns hooting, hands clapping and a sea of European flags waving. Welsh National Opera was never this raucous. The opening night of Eurobeat was a riot of glittering, camp tackiness – just what you’d expect from a pastiche of Europe’s most tasteless music contest. Aussies Craig Christie and Andrew Patterson’s idea to send up Eurovision, with its stereotypical acts, is so inspired, you wonder why no-one has ever thought of it before. I guess it’s because the real thing has cornered the market in kitsch. Being the world’s first interactive musical, every member of the audience is handed a badge and a flag of the country they’re supporting. Tonight we’re flying the flag for Estonia. We’re also asked to switch our mobile phones on, ready to vote for our favourite acts. Welcome to Sarajevo, the host city for tonight’s riotous ceremony. And it wouldn’t be Eurovision without an appearance by the king of kitsch commentary Sir Terry Wogan, who appears, albeit on screen, to introduce the “glorious homage”. Hosts for the night are the portly Sergei (Gareth Hale), a recently-discovered children’s television star with an excruciatingly embarrassing line in bad puns, and Boyka “the face of modern Bosnia Herzegovina”. In her voluminous gold dress, former Coronation Street star Sally Lindsay was suitably-stilted as the former Olympic pole vaulter turned lifestyle TV presenter. Then it’s onto the contest. The 10 countries competing are all so predictable they should be real. An Italian disco diva Vesuvius Versace and her rappers; an Estonian former political activist and his muscle Mary dancers; a Bjork-alike for Iceland; for Russia a boy band in skin-tight jumpsuits, The KGBoyz; for Hungary a group of traditional sisters singing about gutting chickens; for Ireland Ronan Carr sings la, la la; for Greece a Nana Mouskouri look-alike who rips off her long dress to reveal a skimpy outfit in typical Eurovision style; a foursome of Swedish swingers called Avla; a German techno trio called Nepotism and, representing the UK, an out of sync, out of tune boy/girl duo called Rayne and Sheiner. When it came to the voting, thankfully it wasn’t nearly as drawn out as the real thing, with Estonia clinching the Welsh vote. Eurobeat is one of those shows that has the potential to be a cult classic. If only the real Eurovision was as much fun.