Benidorm Palace is set to reopen this week with its fabulous Aqua Show. Spain Life Exclusive explained in this feature that the venue was unable to stage its planned new season show, but would be staging a new version of the successful Aqua Show. Show director David Moore told us that it wouldn’t be possible to work with all the attraction acts and dancers and singers from the previous show, as some of them had other commitments. Also, at that time, they had no idea when they could open, or what government restrictions may insist on as a condition of opening.
We recently caught up with David and a couple of cast members, as well as choreographer Lisa Marie, for an update. Lisa Marie believes she may be the first choreographer in Europe to be back working, while David told us that no theatres are open in Spain, France or the UK, so he’s pretty sure that Benidorm Palace is the first venue of its size to be putting on any kind of production with audiences in Europe.
Of course, the venue and its owners, the Climent Family, are no strangers to headlines and ground-breaking initiatives. The costumiers have been making PPE equipment for front line workers in the health service and the public sector, and Business Manager Joanna Climent was approached by the company who manage the beaches in Benidorm, to help co-ordinate the Benidorm Beach Safety Initiative.
In Benidorm as a whole, and at Benidorm Palace in particular, the mood is optimistic and very much ‘We can do this!’ David Moore told us:
It’s business as usual, but with some modification. For example, we can’t allow the usual audience participation that is a key feature of our shows, and some of the routines have had to be modified to maintain safety and security for our performers and our audiences. However, we have spent a month now, getting everything ready to go, and Benidorm Palace couldn’t have done anything more, or anything better, to ensure that the venue is safe for everyone.
When the State of Alarm was announced in Spain in mid March, everyone at Benidorm Palace went into isolation in safe places, and there have been no cases of Covid-19 among the show’s cast and production crew, or any other members of staff. Everyone is healthy, and their continuing health is monitored with regular Covid testing, as well as temperature checks each time they come to rehearsals. It’s a cautious approach, but it’s working well, and everyone is motivated and keen to be back at work.
David has regulated rehearsals by bringing in people gradually, which helps the new dancers and attractions to get up to speed with their roles in the show, and also ensures the risks of infection are kept to a minimum. Some of the dance numbers have had to be modified to maintain safe social distancing, but the choreography is very similar, although there are a few surprises in there. David’s lips were sealed on those, though:
Come and see the show, and see what treats we have in store for you. And if you’ve seen it before, there are a number of new surprises, so come along for a good night out with us. You deserve it!
One big difference returning audience members will notice is the spectacular new technology which has been installed during lockdown, and which will add a whole new dimension to the Aqua Experience. While these changes have been planned for some time, they would have taken much longer to implement alongside working on rehearsals and presenting shows with the venue operating as normal. However, the Climent Family decided to use lockdown positively by getting all the work done in one fell swoop.
It’s something positive that’s come out of a challenging situation, and it’s an attitude that is shared by everyone associated with Benidorm Palace. This is so much more than a spectacular entertainment venue – it’s a key element of the community effort to take care of everyone and get through Covid-19 safely. This positive attitude has served everyone well through the last four months, and they can’t wait to get back to doing what they love most – entertaining their audiences.
Ami is Aqua’s Production Singer, and she takes part in the main show, as well as singing with the orchestra during the interval so the audience can get up and dance. Dancing is probably off the menu for a while, but she will keep you entertained through the break with her extensive repertoire of songs, built up over a lifetime in music. She told us:
I always wanted to sing, from when I was about five years old. At 15, I was told to ‘get a proper job,’ but this is all I ever want to do. I really don’t know what else I’m made for.
During lockdown, Ami developed a new-found interest in cooking, besides doing PE online with Joe Wickes to keep fit, like millions of others around the world. She also went swimming and for walks with her Spanish partner, who is now an enthusiastic convert to Cottage Pie and Sunday Roasts!
Despite the constrictions of lockdown, they’ve managed to maintain a happy environment, and Ami is really enjoying being back at rehearsals. She has a long association with Benidorm Palace, spending five years as a singer with them, before taking time out to work the cruises. Then health issues kept her off the stage for a while, before she came back to what she calls her ‘Home Stage’ at Benidorm Palace three years ago.
Working at Benidorm Palace is completly different to working the cruise liners, where Ami typically had to perform five main shows and four smaller ones on a two week cruise cycle. She said:
Aqua is a completely different concept, because the show is more focused on a theme. It’s different to anything else I’ve ever done, but absolutely great, and I can’t wait to be back on stage.
Dancer Becky has never been unemployed since her first job, straight from the Millennium Performing Arts College in London. Aged just 17, she interrupted her studies for a 2 month contract in Portugal, before completing her diploma and going directly from college to cruise ships.
Becky’s time BBP (Before Benidorm Palace) included an appearance at the London Palladium in Fame as a 12-year-old, and she’s also made some Bollywood movies in India. She’s had a lot of variety in her career, that’s for sure, having worked in Portugal, India and Macao.
Recently, she’s spent time in Saudi Arabia, where she worked as assistant to David Climent, Benidorm Palace’s resident magician, on the Illusionists international tour. When David was looking for an assistant during Becky’s second season, he asked her if she was interested. It’s something very different to dancing and you have to think more about what you are doing. While there is a potential for things to go wrong, it doesn’t happen very often, and that slim chance serves to add to the adrenalin rush before and during the performance. However, Becky says:
It’s really good fun once you get used to it, and I love it. But dancing is my day job, and it’s great to be able to get back on stage again.
Since her first contract in Portugal, lockdown is the longest time Becky has been away from work, not knowing when she would return, because as one contract ended, she had another lined up, after a well-earned break to catch up with family and friends. She lives alone, so she decided to do a daily Zoom workout class for her family and friends, to keep in touch, and to keep in shape.
During Aqua, she has 10 – 12 costume changes, but luckily most of them are not quick changes. Her favourite costume is Miss Aqua, the spectacular finale costume, and she loves the playful opening number. She’s full of praise for the efficiency of the backstage staff, who have all worked so hard together to create a safe but happy enjoyable performing environment for the cast, and she can’t wait to be centre stage again as Miss Aqua.
Here at Spain Life Exclusive, we wish everyone at Benidorm Palace the best of good fortune as they reopen their doors and get back to entertaining us. We can’t wait to see what David Moore and his production crew have achieved under challenging circumstances. Maybe we’ll see you there! Booking is even more important than usual for the show, as social distancing rules mean the venue must operate at reduced capacity. Contact details are listed below.
13 Dr. Severo Ochoa Avenue, Benidorm (Alicante).
965 851 660