Review

North West End

Chris Hanlon

Barry Manilow’s Copacabana is a real Gem of a show - one that unfortunately hasn’t been seen as often as it should... As the lyric goes ‘Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl’ and so begins songwriter Stephens mind wondering as he plots his course for his next hit! The story follows wannabe singer Lola who has just arrived fresh faced from Toulsa, Oklahoma - desperate to be a star! Tony immediately falls head over heels with Lola and helps her through her failed attempts to carve her way in to show business. They get their chance at the Copacabana lounge in Manhattan. Lola soon finds herself swept away by Rico to a swanky nightclub in Havana where she believes that fame and fortune awaits however things do not go to plan. Lola’s new boss the mysterious Rico, has many plans for his new star resulting in lots drama, jealousy and conflict. What more could an audience ask for!

Splinters Theatre Group, fresh from West Side Story and Rock of Ages (Splinters 25), do an excellent job of hooking the audience and taking them on a journey back to 1947. There was some fine talent on display for all to see, Adam Walker as Stephen/Tony displayed some fine vocals as well as a real ability to move in ‘Dancing Fool’. Rachel Wandsworth as Gladys - the former Copa Girl gave a real strong performance and her mother-like guidance for Lola was pivotal - her character was believable and she worked really hard on stage - even when not part of the action your eyes were drawn to her. Josh Holiday completely transformed his appearance to play Rico and it paid off! Jenifer Horsfield for who I saw play Emma Carew in Jekyll and Hyde a few years ago showed real mental strength as well as a real vulnerability as Conchita! She was excellent throughout and her vocals and movement were incredible! However, the biggest praise has to go to Emily Wilson who was divine as Lola! She was simply stunning as Lola, beautiful voice, great stage presence - she has the lot! I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last we have seen or heard from Emily! Eli Ingles as Sam Silver the night club owner should also get a mention - his comic timing was brilliant and his characterising was great to see - interesting to note in his programme notes that he has written two books with a third on its way!

I also have to mention the strong and youthful ensemble, with highlights including Caramba and El Bravo - there were a few Stand outs for me, Luke Binns was commanding, Finn Greasley was hilarious as the swinging Pirate and Katie Webster I wanted to see more of, as she never came out of Character and had a dazzling smile to boot!

The orchestra were excellent throughout lapping up the wonderful score! And hats off to Musical Director Steve Trotter who really had his cast working hard! I would say however that whilst the ensemble displayed some great harmonies- they could have done with being a bit louder as I was sat on the front row and struggled to hear them at times!

I was intrigued to see that they had gone with an all-white set for this production, and whilst this worked for parts- there was almost too much white - making it difficult to distinguish between the Copacabana and Havana - however Lighting Designer Tom Dyson chose some excellent lighting states which on the balance of things made the whole look work!

All in all this was a strong production and Director Daniel Story managed to ooze out some of the love story’s intricacies. Praise also to choreographer who really got the cast working hard - great to see so many young men dancing on stage!!

The Big Stamp 

Sophie Wilson

‘Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl’ is a line that many of us may know from Barry Manilows’ famous late 70s track, Copacabana. In 1985 the musical with the same name was released and toured the United States.

The story follows wannabe singer Lola after meeting songwriter Tony. Tony is immediately smitten with Lola and assists her through her flailing attempts to break in to show business. They both start finding fame at Manhattens’ Copacabana lounge. Lola finds herself swept away by fate to Havana to work in a splashy nightclub where she is certain that she will find her fame and fortune…however things do not quite work out like that. Lolas’ new boss and mentor, Rico, is quite an unsavoury character, resulting in drama and conflict.

Splinters Theatre Group had quite a task on their hands as this is not the most well known of musicals…however, they do a great job of getting the audience acquainted with the storyline and drawn in to the performance, with some of the charismatic characters on stage.

There is some great Sheffield talent in the cast on stage at The Montgomery. Lead male Adam Walker (Stephen/Tony) has some great moments in the show which allow him to showcase his smooth vocals and great acting skills. Alongside Adam is Emily Wilson playing Lola La mar; Emily needs to take an extra bow at the end of this show as she absolutely steals it with her vocals. Emily has a great range and delivers sweet tones with diction perfect for musical theatre. A real standout moment is the duet between this leading pair during This Can’t Be Real.

Jennifer Horsfield plays Conchita; it is a shame that we don’t get to see much more of this talented actress as she has the best stage presence and really excels during her number Havana. Eli Ingle plays Sam Silver, a comedic role, rousing lots of laughter from the audience with his well executed take on the character… a really talented actor.

The chorus do a great job of delivering energy in the group numbers and this especially shines through during Havana…a fun, colourful number. Enjoyable choreography, especially in the partnered sections during Dancing Fool and Bolero D’Amore.

The band must get a mention with their jazzy, upbeat sounds. The sound is clear and fills the auditorium perfectly. The set is an interesting all white, which at first you may think is a little plain, however, the use of lighting really sets the scenes and creates some much needed ambiance in just the right moments.

Well done Splinters for taking on a challenging piece and making it a success.

Publicity Photos

Rehearsal Shots

Cast

Tony - Adam Russell Walker
Lola - Emily Wilson
Rico - Joshua Holliday
Conchita - Jennifer Horsfield
Sam - Eli Ingle
Gladys - Rachel Wadsworth

Copa Girls:
Jess Child-cavill
Rachel Bricklebank
Isabel Berriman
Jenny Jonson
Megan Romano
Isabelle Newson

Copa Boys:
Joe White
Finn Greasley
Ben Thompson

Maitre-D - Niamh Ingle

Coatcheck Girl - Katie Webster

Willy - Joe White

Voice (Auditions) - Niamh Ingle

Accompanist - Anna Leggett

Mr Brill - Ben Thompson

Publisher - Kyle Hogan

McManus - Jack Attrill

Showgirl 1 - Isabel Berriman

Showgirl 2 - Rachel Bricklebank

Luis - Luke Wheeler
Carlos - Finn Greasley
Pirate Captain - Ben Thompson
Pirate 1 - Katie Webster
Pirate 2 - Elizabeth Jubb
Pirette - Emmie Haswell