There's music and passion, sequins and feathers galore in Burnley Light Opera Society's latest production.
Barry Manilow's musical Copacabana has a pretty simple plot; struggling songwriter Stephen lives in a dream world at his imaginary New York nightclub the Copacabana, much to the frustration of his wife Samantha.
As he fights with the lyrics we follow him into the fantasy world – where bar man Tony, also a struggling writer, looks startlingly like Stephen, and aspiring Copa Girl Lola bears an uncanny resemblance to Samantha.
Bad guy Rico, from Havana's legendary Tropicana club, muscles in and kidnaps the new girl to make her the star of his show, replacing ageing performer Conchita. And, of course, the good guys win out.
The lack of depth in the story allows you to simply sit back and enjoy the truly spectacular dance routines and quite stunning voices on show.
James Cockerill and Sophie Lord as Tony and Lola are both excellent singers. And with Sophie's ease of movement in the dance numbers, it's no wonder Rico picks her out from the Copa line-up. I'd have liked more passion between them – after all, 'it's always in fashion at the Copa'. I was waiting for a big smooch on Lola's rescue, but all we got were tender hugs instead.
There was, in their own way, more passion between comedy characters Gladys and Sam, played by Tori Green and David Norris. Tori's solo was a big belting number which was really well done – although take care not to turn your back on the audience when singing to Lola. David gave a great physical portrayal of the wig-wearing club boss, playing up to the audience for laughs.
Ann Mason fronted Caramba with absolute ease, but I some of the lyrics were lost under the punchy rhythms of the band – such a shame given how much work she was obviously putting in. And Geoff Baron played a mean Rico, craftily drugging Lola although he could have been more menacing at times. Bolero D'Amore was a beautiful number, the dancers really captured the mood.
The set and staging was simple, but with striking proscenium arches setting the club scenes and some large costumes, there was enough happening to keep the stage from feeling bare.
The real passion definitely came from the Copa Girls and Boys in every single one of their brilliant routines – choreographed by director Anthony Williams. It felt like they were seldom off the stage, with some dramatic quick changes into fabulous costumes – after last year's La Cage Aux Folles, BLOS are certainly doing their bit for the sequin industry.
While the three Copa Boys were fantastic, learning some complex routines in just a small number of rehearsals, it's a shame that a society such as BLOS needs to employ professionals to boost the company.
Any local would-be performers – get down and join this excellent society, as you will have a wonderful time!
- Copacabana is performed by Burnley Light Opera Society at Burnley Mechanics, until Saturday.