The Theatre Guild committee were delighted to present Barry Manilow’s Copacabana as our 2008 production. The show is based on the lyrics of Barry Manilow’s famous hit song of the same name! With 14 catchy and atmospheric musical numbers (9 of which featuring chorus and dancers), dance routines from the world famous ‘Copa-Girls’ and a story starring Lola (she was a showgirl!) that is as hot as its tropical Cuban location the committee felt sure that this show would prove to be a worthy successor to our 2007 hit “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”! Our audience agreed as ticket sales hit the high 90s (in percentage terms) and feedback was almost universally positive.
Clyde 1’s Suzie Maguire said “Copacabana is going down a storm”, UK Theatre Network said “Music and passion are most definitely the fashion in this delightfully cheesy, wonderfully upbeat rendition of the Barry Manilow classic” and added that our audience were “singing along with glee and literally dancing out of the aisles”. The production was memorable for being Ian Purves’s first as Artistic Director, Jackie Duncan’s first as Stage Director and leading man, Anthony Kelly’s, first ever show with Theatre Guild. This was the show with confetti cannons, mirror balls, marracas and all those showgirls costumes! We enjoyed David Sturgeon’s numerical repertoire (“a 6-17, a 7-11 and a 5 and dime”), John Woods Tarzan impression and Craig Ledgerwood’s “barking dogs”.
The show opens in with a dreamlike sequence set in an elegant but other-wordly nightclub in 1947.
Stephen is a songwriter suffering writer’s block. He acts as narrator but also becomes part of his imaginary settings and as a character in his forthcoming musical, that of leading man Tony. Stephen’s wife, Samantha, reminds him that their parents are coming for dinner which momentarily takes Stephen away from his imaginary world. He turns to his drum machine as he begins to visualise the way his musical is going to take shape. It will be about a showgirl performing at the famous Copacabana in 1947. We are whisked to Grand Central Station where his heroine is about to arrive. Her name is Lola and she hails from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is not alone, there are other would-be showgirls from St. Paul, or Fargo or Billing. Together they march down glittering, glorious Broadway. Back to the 1990s and Stephen’s musical is beginning to take shape. His leading man will be called Tony – a songwriter by day and at night he works in the famous Copacabana nightclub. Stephen becomes Tony and then, it’s showtime. Tony and the Copa boys lead the entertainment before introducing the fabulous Copa girls. After the show, Tony commiserates with Gladys, a worldly-wise cigarette girl, about the less glamorous side of showbusiness. Lola enters looking for a job and Tony is immediately head-over-heels in love. He and Gladys persuade Sam Silver, the Copa’s hard-headed owner, to give Lola the chance to audition for the show the following afternoon. Tony is desperate to have his songs published and auditions them for music publishers while Lola does the rounds of theatre producers. They both arrive at the Copa tired and exhausted, Lola fully expecting to fail this audition also. People who audition for the Copa are expected to arrive with their own pianist but Tony comes to the rescue and together with Gladys transform Lola – and her song – into star material. Lola gets the job at the Copa and she and Tony obviously hit it off. Tony hadn’t reckoned, however, with the arrival of Rico, the local Godfather, and his goons. He immediately takes a shine to Lola and invites her to his table for champagne. He tells her of his own magnificent nightclub, the Tropicana in Havana – the world’s largest outdoor nightclub. Persuasion by word doesn’t get Lola to come to Rico’s nightclub but a drugged drink means he can kidnap her and transport her to Havana on his ocean clipper and thence to his opulent lair in Cuba.
Realisation dawns that Lola has been kidnapped. Tony vows to rescue her with the aid of Willy, one of the Copa’s waiters. Sam Silver also offers to help but vacillates between his desire to help and his fear of Rico’s machine-guns. Meanwhile, in Havana, Lola is coming round from her drug induced sleep. Conchita, Rico’s moll and the one ousted from favour by Lola, puts Lola firmly in the picture and a plan to help Lola escape begins to take shape. Conchita returns to the Tropicana to rehearse her number for the show that evening and Rico decides that they should revive one of Conchita’s past hits, only this time to star Lola. Conchita is furious and despite her protestations Rico is firm in his decision. More than ever Conchita decides that Lola must escape. Sam and Tony have by this time arrived in disguise and seek Conchita’s help. During the big Tropicana production number, Lola’s escape is engineered and she and Tony finally melt into each other’s arms.
Thus, the fantasy is over and Tony becomes once again, Stephen. Stephen is dejected now that his fantasy has been completed and it is then that he realises that his fictitious Lola is none other than his wife, Samantha. All ends happily.
Song List (in alphabetical order):
Ay Caramba – The Copa Girls
Bolero de Amor – Rico and company
Copacabana – Company
Dancin’ Fool – Tony and company
El Bravo! – Lola and the Pirates
Just Arrived – Lola and Women Hopefuls
Lola / Man Wanted – Tony / Lola
Night on the Town – Lola and the Copa Girls
Sweet Heaven – Tony and the Copa Girls
This Can’t Be Real – Lola, Stephen
Welcome to Havana – Conchita and the Trop Boys
Who Am I Kidding? – Sam, Gladys and Doorman
Who Needs to Dream? – Tony
Finale – Company