Review of The Grayshott Stagers' production of Barry
WHO SHOT WHO AT STAGERS' SIZZLING COPA?
"Her name was
Lola. She was a showgirl". The opening lines from one of the most famous and
popular disco songs ever produced, and with the same words The Grayshott
Stagers' ambitious musical for 2004 - "Copacabana" - exploded to life on stage
last week. Barry Manilow’s award-winning song of the same title is the
inspiration for an evening of romance, of excitement and passion set mainly in
the heart of a 1940s New York nightclub. Originally a television movie and then
a Las Vegas spectacle starring Manilow himself, the show was expanded into a
two-and-a-half hour musical comedy for the West End ten years ago with Gary
The story starts contemporarily, with geeky, aspiring songwriter
Stephen as he struggles to match the right lyrics to a catchy tune that he has
concocted. Then with a little inspiration from his wife Samantha on the eve of
their fifth anniversary, his imagination transports him (and us) to the 1940s,
to the time of big band swing and Latin rhythms. Maybe he'll find his
inspiration here? Maybe!
In his dreams,
Stephen (played by Nick Creaser) is bartender Tony at the Copacabana club where
he meets hopeful starlet Lola La Mar (Alisa Creaser) and tries to help launch
her on the path to stardom. So boy has met girl.
After convincing his boss to
take her on as a girl in the chorus, boy falls in love with girl. As Manilow's
song says: "at the Copa, they fell in love".
But just as they do fall in love,
rival nightclub owner and gangster Rico Castelli (Wayne Richardson) and his
brooding Latin lover Conchita (strongly acted by Stager's newcomer Julia
Harris) show up. Rico, hypnotised by Lola's talent and beauty, plies her with
drink and whisks her away to his nightclub in Havana. You guessed it, boy loses
Tony sets off to get Lola back with the help of cheeky cigarette girl
Gladys and nightclub boss, Sam. Worthy of note here is the superb comic timing
of Teresa Marsh and Tony Harris, both of whom shine in the song "Who am I
kidding" which nearly steals the show. But love, jealousy and murder ensue in
the story before Tony can win back his Lola, and before Stephen can complete
not to imagine parallels between the show's crooning creator Manilow, and
songwriter Stephen, but that is not important. What is important is that the
Stagers have again pulled a stonker of a show out the bag under the imaginative
direction of Tony Creasey and musical maestro Edward Roberts.
As the romantic
leads, Nick and Alisa Creaser excel in their characterisations and in a duet
where they are parted and each dreaming of the other, their voices blend
beautifully. Nick shining in his soaring solos, and Alisa striking in her first
entrance - a steamy shower scene at the start of the show!
As in any
fashionable nightclub where music and passion rule the day, the dancing and
apparel of those doing the dancing must be sensational. In both departments,
the Stagers have drawn trump cards. The choreography by Megan Farrington and
Kevin Bourne was inventive, fun and looked dazzling - from boleros to scantily
clad tap dancing, to the rousing Latin jiving of the shows title song. Wardrobe
mistress, Lynn Patton, is probably jointly responsible for the successful look
of the show, as she co-ordinated the making and finding of an array of
eye-grabbing costumes that fill the stage with colour and glamour.
Having lived in
the area for over fifteen years, I think I can say that Haslemere hasn't seen
many musicals so vibrant, embracing both the modern and good old-fashioned on
its stage before. "Copacabana" continues its run at the Haslemere Hall on
Bridge Street, on Thursday 6th, Friday 7th and Saturday 8th
May - this week! - at 7.30 p.m. I recommend that you call the box office NOW on
01428 642161, as this is definitely one not to be missed.
J R Legat
Web pages on this site are written with
Copyright © 2004 J R Legat.
2nd May 2004