As previously tipped (See The Goss, 8 Apr 2008), Can't Smile Without You, based on the songs of American singer-songwriter Barry Manilow, will hit the stage this year. The new compilation musical opens on 28 August 2008 at Bromley’s Churchill Theatre, where it continues until 6 September ahead of a three-month regional tour and planned West End transfer next year.

Barry Manilow has sold more than 75 million records worldwide. At the height of his success in the late 1970s, he had five albums on the best-seller charts in the US. His many easy-listening singles include “I Write the Songs”, “Mandy”, “Looks Like We Made It”, “Weekend in New England”, “Ready to Take a Chance Again”, “I Made It Through the Rain”, “Can’t Smile Without You” and “Copacabana”.

The last song was so popular that its story – about showgirl Lola and her jealous lover Tony – was made into a movie musical, which was aired in the US in 1985, starring Manilow himself as Tony. Following a shorter stage rendition in Las Vegas, Copacabana premiered as a full-length stage musical in 1994, running for more than a year at the West End's Prince of Wales Theatre. It was revived for a UK regional tour five years ago (See News, 24 Jul 2003).

Can't Smile Without You has a book by Tim Prager based on an original idea by Bill Kenwright, who also produces the show and co-directs it with Keith Strachan. The story centres around an aspiring young band who, on a visit to New York, come across an opportunity not to be missed - auditions for the latest reality TV show to find the next pop sensation. When the TV company offers lead singer Tony a chance to appear on the show, the other band members give him their blessing. But before Tony can realise his dream, he’s caught up in a tragic sequence of events which leaves him fighting for his life. Left with no memory, his dreams are all but shattered. His only hope lies in the power of the music he loves and his feelings for a girl he once knew called Mandy.

The new musical features more than 30 Manilow songs and is endorsed by Manilow and his music executive Garry Kief. The production is designed by Andy Walmsley with lighting by Ben Cracknel, choreography by Carole Todd and musical direction by John Maher.

Following Bromley, Can't Smile Without You tours to Liverpool, Bristol, Manchester, Hull, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Northampton, Stoke and Newcastle, with further dates to be announced. Casting and London venue and dates have not yet been confirmed.

- by Terri Paddock