Eventful launch for Copacabana at Buxton Opera House
Dancing showgirls in fabulous costumes, pop and soap stars singing their hearts out and a story about chasing a dream - Copacabana is a musical which is high on energy and gloriously camp.
Its creator Barry Manilow may have the Midas touch when it comes to music but that magic was missing on the technical side where the Buxton launch was memorable for all the wrong reasons.
An unexplained delay saw the curtain rise 25 minutes late at the Opera House on Wednesday, an out of kilter sound balance between band and singers buried the leading lady’s first song, Just Arrived, and there were instances of feedback in the first half.
The show was halted a couple of minutes into Act Two for technical reasons, the backstage crew unable to hear what was being said on stage.
Ten minutes later, the performance rewound to the beginning of the act and performer Ricky Johnson (playing Enrico) worked in an ad-lib that problems would be sorted by the next performance.
Hopefully that has done the trick and the rest of the Buxton dates will run like clockwork.
The show latches on to the nation’s love of Strictly Come Dancing with some stunning choreography which dazzles like the sequins on the showgirls’ costumes. The four Copa Boys cartwheel, back-flip and move like a well-oiled machine, a loved-up twosome blaze a smouldering trail across the stage in a sexy Bolero dance and men in frilly-sleeved shirts tied at their waists and cut-off leggings ramp up the camp factor in a rumba.
There’s shades of X Factor as singers audition to impress the Cowell-esque Copacabana nightclub boss Sam Silver (played by Richard Grieve from Neighbours and Home and Away) and the “You’re Hired” catchphrase reminds us that The Apprentice is back on our screens.
Jon Lee, who found fame and fortune in the pop group S Club 7 heads the cast. He gives a commendable performance as the aspiring songwriter who falls for a showgirl in a New York nightclub and revels in his signature song Dancin’ Fool.
His opposite number Jennifer Harding is the true star of this production, giving a fabulous performance as Lola, the small-town girl with a big voice and an even bigger dream of making her name in showbiz.
Sharon Sexton gives it large in the comedy stakes as over-the hill nightclub entertainer Conchita, cheated out of her starring spot by Lola and determined to go out on a high in her swansong where she puts plenty of “boom, chick a boom boom” into her performance.
The stripped-down staging lacks the trappings of glitzy nightclubs in New York and Havana but enables cast members to project their characters, dazzle the audience with song and dance and work those magnificent outfits.
Copacabana runs at Buxton Opera House until Saturday, October 18.