Gemma Craven stars in an all-new revival of Barry Manilow's Copacabana, the stage musical based on the singer's 1978 hit single of the same name. The production opens a five-month tour on 10 June 2003 at Birmingham's Alexandra Theatre before continuing, until 1 November, to ten further venues (See The Goss, 14 Nov 2002).

In Copacabana, a young songwriter has got a great tune but no lyrics, so he invents the character of Lola Lamar, a country lass from Tulsa who arrives in the Big Apple to search for fame as a showgirl. Lola is subject to all manner of adventures in the swinging 1940s nightclub scene.

Gemma Craven - who plays club owner Rico's gangster moll, Conchita - is a musical stage veteran whose many West End credits have included Fiddler on the Roof, South Pacific, A Chorus of Disapproval, Godspell, They're Playing Our Song (for which she won the 1980 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical), Beauty and the Beast and, most recently, Boy George's Taboo.

The rest of the 26-strong cast for Copacabana are Louise Freeman (as Lola), Nik Stoter, Christopher Howard, Mark Faith, Aly McInnes, Craig Ryder, Alex Toohey, Matt Stewart, Martyn Andrews, Frances Lunn, Julia Maiden, Zoe Louise Carter, Laura Woods, Dani McCallum, Fiona McIlroy, Libby Newton, Paula Knapman, Lynsey Caroline Hatfield, Michael Laidler, Justin Barley, Dario Mazzoli, Nathan James, Damien Grimas, Luke Goodwin and Gary Skillicorn.

Co-authored by Manilow, Bruce Sussman and Jack Feldman, Copacabana was first seen as a made-for-TV movie musical in the US in 1985, when Manilow himself starred as Lola's lover Tony. Following a shorter stage rendition in Las Vegas, it premiered as a full-length stage musical in 1994, running for more than a year at the West End's Prince of Wales Theatre, preceded and followed by UK regional tours.

The new tour is directed by Anthony Williams, who is also producing it and designed by David Walton. Following Birmingham, the show visits Oxford Apollo (24 - 28 June), Liverpool Empire (1 - 12 July), Bristol Hippodrome (15 - 26 July), Hastings White Rock Theatre (28 July - 2 Aug), Cardiff New Theatre (4 - 9 Aug), Grimsby Auditorium (19 - 23 Aug), Sunderland Empire (2 - 13 Sep), Edinburgh Playhouse (23 Sept - 4 Oct), York Opera House (7 - 18 Oct) and Manchester Opera House (21 Oct - 1 Nov).

- by Hannah Kennedy