A night of fun at the Copa without Barry

Musical: Chesapeake Music Hall presents its version of Manilow's hit `Copacabana.'

July 05, 2002|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Singer-songwriter Barry Manilow won't be coming to the Chesapeake Music Hall next week, but a take on his show Copacabana, featuring more than a dozen of his songs, will arrive tomorrow at the only dinner theater in Annapolis.

"I've been in love with Copacabana since I was in college," said producer-director Sherry Kay Anderson. "In fact, I'm using one of the costumes in this show that I originally made for the University of Kansas production 25 years ago. It's really a dream come true for me to be able to produce and direct this fantastic musical. And this show has never been done before in this area."

Anderson is pleased with her cast, now in the final stage of rehearsals. It is headlined by versatile regular Alan Hoffman, who will be "sporting a great accent" as Rico; actress Lynne Garrelson, who plays Conchita; Chesapeake Music Hall newcomer Heather Sheeler, who plays Lola; and Brad Hodgson, who plays Tony. Anderson said she is "really glad to have wonderful Chesapeake Music Hall veterans Jerry Vess and Mary Armour-Kaiser on board for this show."

Anderson's 15-year-old daughter Nicole will share the stage as one of the Copa girls.

Anderson said she is "delighted with how great the music is sounding under the direction of Jason Brown," who served as pianist for this spring's Chesapeake Music Hall production of Hello, Dolly! Although Brown has directed a number of local musicals for Merely Players and other theater companies, this will be the first time he has served as musical director at Chesapeake Music Hall.

Brown said the music is awesome.

"It's dance heavy - requiring the cast to do a lot of singing while dancing, which is hard to do, but this is a wonderful cast who can do both," Brown said.

Describing the score, Brown singled out Lola's song "Who Needs to Dream?" and Tony's "Sweet Heaven" as outstanding romantic tunes. He also enjoys the variety, which has several songs with a Latin beat incorporated into the score for the scenes in Havana.

Brown added that several songs are as catchy as Manilow's hit "Copacabana." Manilow wrote the song in 1978 for his album Even Now. "Copacabana" was later released as a single, earning Manilow his first Grammy. Years later, Dick Clark approached Manilow and writers Bruce Sussman and Jack Feldman about adapting the song for a television musical film. The trio obliged, and it became a one-hour Las Vegas show, then a two-act musical in London.

Lola is the inspiration for this musical, which captures the romance of the 1940s at the world-famous Copacabana nightclub in New York City.

Lola is a Copa showgirl who dreams of becoming a star with the help of bartender Tony, who has dreams of becoming a successful songwriter and doing a musical. Gangster Rico enters the scene and soon whisks Lola away to his nightclub in Havana. Now there is a Tony-Lola-Rico triangle with plenty of passion, jealousy and some unexpected fireworks.

You can see how it comes out at Chesapeake Music Hall on any weekend starting Saturday and continuing Friday and Saturday evenings, with matinees Sunday and Wednesday, through Aug. 31. Prices for dinner and the show are $33.50 for Friday and Saturday evenings and $30.50 for matinees. Discounts are available for groups of 20 or more. Chesapeake Music Hall is at 339 Busch's Frontage Road off Route 50 in Annapolis.

Call 410-626-7515 or 800- 406-0306 for reservations.

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