You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Copacabana

When a show contains lines like, "I knew Rodgers and Hammerstein before they were married," and "Are you from Brooklyn, New York?" and the response is, "No, Brooklyn, France," you know there's trouble. "Copacabana," Barry Manilow's musical comedy centered around his 1978 hit song, is a manufactured, plastic enterprise that tries to make up with sheer energy what it lacks in wit.

With:
Stephen/Tony - Franc D'Ambrosio Lola - Darcie Roberts Maitre D' - Adam Pelty Willy/Mr. Brill/ Pirate Captain - Thom Christopher Warren Veronica Lake - Carolyn Doherty Gladys Murphy - Beth McVey Sam Silver - Dale Radunz Skip - Ted Banfalvi Rico Castelli - Philip Hernandez Conchita Alvarez - Terry Burrell Luis - Dennis Stowe St. McManus - Adam Pelty

When a show contains lines like, “I knew Rodgers and Hammerstein before they were married,” and “Are you from Brooklyn, New York?” and the response is, “No, Brooklyn, France,” you know there’s trouble. “Copacabana,” Barry Manilow’s musical comedy centered around his 1978 hit song, is a manufactured, plastic enterprise that tries to make up with sheer energy what it lacks in wit.

The slender story revolves around Stephen (Franc D’Ambrosio), a songwriter struggling to finish the title tune. These frantic efforts catapult him into another world where he becomes Tony, a pianist-composer working at the Copacabana. Lola (Darcie Roberts), a hick from Tulsa, shows up looking for a job as dancer, and Tony immediately spots her talent and charisma, an incredible feat given her abrasively silly, empty-headed character. Conflict surfaces when gangster Rico Castelli (Philip Hernandez), owner of the Tropicana in Havana, succumbs to Lola’s charms, kidnaps her and makes her a headliner in his club. His girlfriend Conchita (Terry Burrell) resents Lola’s ascent, and loyal, loving Tony shows up to rescue his sweetheart.

The story sounds better in outline than it plays. As written by Manilow, Jack Feldman and Bruce Sussman, there isn’t an ounce of tension. We don’t care whether Lola succeeds, whether she’s in danger or whether she gets together with Tony at the end. Lola never grows beyond the babbling, mindless girl seen in the second scene.

Playing Stephen/Tony, D’Ambrosio lacks the sexual electricity to carry off his modern “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue” type role. He’s likable, animated and a skilled singer, but his role allows no room for believable, magnetic heroism.

Beth McVey fares better as a former Copa girl who shows Lola the ropes. The part is written too broadly, but she slams her way past the cliched dialogue with gutsy good humor and steals the show from the stars. Dale Radunz is an entertaining caricature as the Copa’s boss, and Terry Burrell adds needed sizzle as Rico Castelli’s jealous mistress.

Manilow’s music, with lyrics by Bruce Sussman and Feldman, is tuneful but so generically pop that it fails to further the action or shed light on the characters and their motivations. Songs like “Dancin’ Fool,” “When You’re a Copa Girl” and “Welcome to Havana” are excitingly staged by Wayne Cilento. Less effective is the show’s big ballad, “Sweet Heaven,” which states the obvious and has no genuine emotion to justify its expansive treatment. The show echoes old musicals, yet in “Sweet Heaven,” Tony is on a huge staircase a la “An American in Paris” and just stands there, rather than dramatically descending the steps.

Manilow’s score is expertly orchestrated, David C. Woolard’s costumes have an opulent flair and David Warren’s direction keeps the production moving at a fast clip. In the end, though, “Copacabana” never suggests the grittiness, tensions born of ambition and the colorful, competitive history of the Copa, or what made it a showbiz legend.

Copacabana

Pasadena Civic Auditorium; 2,900 seats; $66 top

Production: A Pasadena Civic Auditorium Foundation presentation of a musical in two acts with book by Barry Manilow, Jack Feldman and Bruce Sussman, and music by Barry Manilow with lyrics by Bruce Sussman and Jack Feldman.

Creative: Producer, Pittsburgh CLO and Dallas Summer Musicals in association with Garry Kief, John Ashby and Stiletto Entertainment. Music director, Andy Rumble; choreography, Wayne Cilento; sets, Derek McLane; lighting, Donald Holder; sound, Michael Cusick; costumes, David C. Woolard. Opened, reviewed Feb. 20, 2001; closes Feb. 25, 2001. Running time: 2 HOURS 15 MIN.

Cast: Stephen/Tony - Franc D'Ambrosio Lola - Darcie Roberts Maitre D' - Adam Pelty Willy/Mr. Brill/ Pirate Captain - Thom Christopher Warren Veronica Lake - Carolyn Doherty Gladys Murphy - Beth McVey Sam Silver - Dale Radunz Skip - Ted Banfalvi Rico Castelli - Philip Hernandez Conchita Alvarez - Terry Burrell Luis - Dennis Stowe St. McManus - Adam PeltyAlso: Joni Michelle, Denton Tarver, David Koch, Vicky Lambert, Lisa Mandel, Barrett Martin, Karyn Overstreet, Adam Pelty, Judine Richard, Vikki Schnurr, Dennis Stowe, Ron J. Todorowski, Brooke Wendle.

More Legit

  • Kenya Barris and Pharrell Williams

    Kenya Barris, Pharrell Williams to Collaborate on Juneteenth Stage Musical

    When a show contains lines like, “I knew Rodgers and Hammerstein before they were married,” and “Are you from Brooklyn, New York?” and the response is, “No, Brooklyn, France,” you know there’s trouble. “Copacabana,” Barry Manilow’s musical comedy centered around his 1978 hit song, is a manufactured, plastic enterprise that tries to make up with […]

  • BD Wong

    Stagecraft Podcast: BD Wong Talks Basketball in Beijing, Dinosaurs and Batman

    When a show contains lines like, “I knew Rodgers and Hammerstein before they were married,” and “Are you from Brooklyn, New York?” and the response is, “No, Brooklyn, France,” you know there’s trouble. “Copacabana,” Barry Manilow’s musical comedy centered around his 1978 hit song, is a manufactured, plastic enterprise that tries to make up with […]

  • Michael Jackson Musical Coming to Broadway

    Michael Jackson Musical Coming to Broadway in 2020

    When a show contains lines like, “I knew Rodgers and Hammerstein before they were married,” and “Are you from Brooklyn, New York?” and the response is, “No, Brooklyn, France,” you know there’s trouble. “Copacabana,” Barry Manilow’s musical comedy centered around his 1978 hit song, is a manufactured, plastic enterprise that tries to make up with […]

  • Watch Tom Hanks Vamp on Stage

    Watch Tom Hanks Vamp on Stage to Calm His 'Henry IV' Audience

    When a show contains lines like, “I knew Rodgers and Hammerstein before they were married,” and “Are you from Brooklyn, New York?” and the response is, “No, Brooklyn, France,” you know there’s trouble. “Copacabana,” Barry Manilow’s musical comedy centered around his 1978 hit song, is a manufactured, plastic enterprise that tries to make up with […]

  • Donald Trump, Robert De Niro

    Trump Punches Back at Robert De Niro: 'A Very Low IQ Individual'

    When a show contains lines like, “I knew Rodgers and Hammerstein before they were married,” and “Are you from Brooklyn, New York?” and the response is, “No, Brooklyn, France,” you know there’s trouble. “Copacabana,” Barry Manilow’s musical comedy centered around his 1978 hit song, is a manufactured, plastic enterprise that tries to make up with […]

  • Matt Bomer Andrew Rannells

    Stagecraft Podcast: Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells on Broadway's 'Boys in the Band'

    When a show contains lines like, “I knew Rodgers and Hammerstein before they were married,” and “Are you from Brooklyn, New York?” and the response is, “No, Brooklyn, France,” you know there’s trouble. “Copacabana,” Barry Manilow’s musical comedy centered around his 1978 hit song, is a manufactured, plastic enterprise that tries to make up with […]

  • Bruce Springsteen72nd Annual Tony Awards, Show,

    Tony Awards: Everything You Didn't See on TV

    When a show contains lines like, “I knew Rodgers and Hammerstein before they were married,” and “Are you from Brooklyn, New York?” and the response is, “No, Brooklyn, France,” you know there’s trouble. “Copacabana,” Barry Manilow’s musical comedy centered around his 1978 hit song, is a manufactured, plastic enterprise that tries to make up with […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content