While composer Barry Manilow is one of those whose work you either love or loathe, there's no denying his legacy of catchy and much-covered tunes, from "Could It Be Magic?" to "I Write The Songs", "Weekend in New England" to "One Voice".
So if there's one main gripe about Copacabana the show, it's that with the exception of the title number - which is only heard in full after the curtain call - and "Who Needs To Dream?", it's that the songs just aren't that memorable.
Of course, the stage show is not much more than a two-hour plus version of the story in the song. Showgirl Lola meets barman Tony and they fall in love. Enter bad guy Rico, who makes a move on Lola. To use the song's succinct description: "There was blood and a single gunshot, but just who shot who?"
This latest touring production is an entertaining enough effort but it never really hits the mark. A show so flimsy on plot has to rely on spectacular performances and these are certainly nothing special.
Designer David Walton's costumes are sumptuous, with feathers a go-go and fabulous head-dresses, and what the sets lack in substance they certainly make up for in sparkle. The 10-piece band, under John Morton, plays well although the sound levels aren't exactly at knock-your-socks-off volume, leaving many numbers decidedly lacking in oomph factor.
It is lack of variety in the choreography which really lets the piece down. Anthony Williams, as director, choreographer and producer, seems to have taken on too much and it's a shame, because with a cast of 12, plus 14 dancers, each number could have been so much, much more.
As for the principals, Nik Stoter has a nice voice for singing Manilow's numbers as Tony/Stephen, although lack of volume lets him down at times, while Louise Freeman's Lola sings and dances up a storm. Star billing Gemma Craven makes the most the relatively small role of Conchita, oozing the professionalism which has kept her in work all these years.
As a summer tour of a lively feel good musical this production will
undoubtedly do well at the box office, but for this Copacabana "the hottest spot north of Havana" is pushing it.