Copacabana is a musical with songs by Barry Manilow, lyrics by Bruce Sussman and Jack Feldman, and a book by all three. The show, which is based on Manilow’s hit of the same name and has successfully run on Broadway and the West End, sounded so cheesy that I just had to book! It was performed at Ealing’s Questors Theatre by HEOS Musical Theatre, an amateur group.
The story concerns a songwriter, Stephen, and his attempt to write a hit musical which happens to be about a girl called Lola who turns up in New York and gets a job at the Copacabana nightclub. The Stephen plot bookends the main show, which is the “hit musical” in action – Stephen’s alter-ego Tony falls in love with Lola, but then she is kidnapped by gangster Rico and taken to Havana. Can Tony rescue her?
The plot was daft, but I actually enjoyed this musical far more than I had expected to. A few of the slower love songs are the kind I expected from the crooner Manilow, but others are much livelier showtunes, and they move the plot along in a highly entertaining fashion. The two leads in particular, Stephen/Tony and Lola, were outstanding and there were good performances from the supporting cast as several memorable characters, including the owner of the Copacabana nightclub and the wicked Rico, as well as Rico’s lover (who gets her own catchy Latin-infused number).
A strong band and a simple but effective set, with impressive costumes for the titular “Copacabana” number, added the finishing touches to this strong production. Copacabana is hardly a groundbreaking or unique musical, but it’s a very decent example of the genre.