Reviewed by Rochdale Style Magazine.
Rochdale Amateur Operatic Society put on a spectacular production of Barry Manilow’s Copacabana, with many of the audience commenting that it was the societys best show yet.
‘Her name was Lola’…the unforgettable opening lyric of Barry Manilow’s hit Copacabana, is the inspiration for this exciting musical tale, of love and romance, set at the heart of the swinging nightclub scene of the 1940s. While creating the world’s next big hit, Stephen (Gary Jones), an aspiring songwriter, is carried back to an era when ‘music and passion were always the fashion’ at the world famous and glamorous Copacabana nightclub in New York City. In his dream, Lola La Mar (Laura Hoyle), a hopeful showgirl, is launched on the path to stardom as a Copa Girl with the help of Tony Forte (Gary Jones), a bartender with dreams of his own. Captivated by her performance, the villainous Rico (Steve Harrison) whisks her away to the Tropicana nightclub in Havana. From this exotic, distant new world, a tale of old-fashioned love, jealousy and murder in the entangled lives of Lola, Tony and Rico unfolds.
Laura Hoyle stole the show, putting in an exceptional performance, as Lola. Gary Jones deserves a special mention for not only giving a faultless leading man performance, but also directing and choreographing the production, alongside Assistant Director, Mike McCaw and Assistant Choreographer, Claire Egerton. Dawn Leigh was perfectly suited to the role of latino bombshell Conchita Alvarez and Steve Harrison captured the danger, but charm of his character, Rico Castelli. Tony Stones, as Sam Silver, and Nicky Mead, as Gladys Murphy, gave strong performances and Tom Varey had excellent comic timing as Willy the waiter. The Copa girl dancers had the audience mesmerized, during some brilliantly choreographed numbers; their stunning costumes adding to the effect. The male dancers also showed off their talents, with some very energetic routines.
The 13-piece band, under the direction of Paul Nicholls, remained visible behind the action throughout most of the production, adding greatly to the ambience of the nightclub scenes. The 20+ chorus made for some impressive numbers, even dancing into the audience for the finale. This feel-good musical certainly seemed to prove a hit with the audience and a fitting tribute to the memory of Jack Heaton, the society s dedicated and long-standing President and Chairman.