Cromer Pier Pavilion Theatre Saturday 23rd ~ Saturday 30th May 2015
Copacabana! Cromer Pier Pavilion Theatre (edp24.co.uk)
Director: Chrissie Robertson
Musical Director: Mark Sharp
Choreographer: Carole Beatty
Music and passion are always in fashion at the Copacabana says Barry Manilow's lyrics. And they always are in the Cromer and Sheringham Operatic Society's annual musical too. So it was an apt, if brave, choice by the group, after a spate of seat-filling standards to tackle this show - which is heavy on dance and light on plot.
It is loosely based on the crooner's pulsating Latin hit - a tale of showgirls, gangsters and love. The story should be sponsored by Kraft; it is so thin and cheesy.
But it is the spectacle of feather-draped showgirls, and choreography as bright as the glittering costumes that are the backbone of this show. There was rumba, samba, tap, even a steamy balletic bolero, in numbers that tested an "am dram" cast.
Choreographer Carole Beatty, leading by example, coached the best out of her troops - some of whom brought their dance skills to the fore, while others were stretched to new levels.
Paul Allum impressed with a fine singing voice in the role of singer -songwriter Tony, with Annabelle Abendroth, as his dream girl Lola, combined a sweet voice with silky dance moves in her first leading musical role.
Praise too for the sparkling supporting roles of Andrea Wilson as the bubbly cigarette girl Gladys and Nick Bird as the brash but comedic night club owner Sam Silver.
Matt Scantlebury extracted panto baddie boos with his performance as rival Rico and Claire Reynolds was excellent as his wife, playing an ageing star in Havana's Tropicana club who is danger of being ousted by young incomer Lola - a part played with venom, humour and compassion in equal measure.
The show, which runs until Saturday, is a bit of a one-song wonder. But, as ever, the CSODS, and director Chrissie Robertson, make it an entertaining and endearing escape.
Who could ask for more?
Copacabana! Pier Pavilion Theatre, Cromer Sat 23 May 2015 NODA Review
The orchestra under Mark Sharp set the tone and the standard for the evening with the first notes of overture, what a great sound from them, could have listened for hours in great pleasure, and how they enjoyed the swinging score and upbeat tuneful music.
Chrissie Robertson and Carole Beatty had pulled out all the stops and rehearsed the cast into the ground to learn all that great dancing (whole cast too!) and what a successful venture and achievement into a kaleidoscope of disciplined and whirling brilliantly costumed cast. This was a real company show with all putting their hearts, souls, and feet into overdrive and you must all feel immense achievement in pulling off such a professional show full of champagne bubbles, glitter, and razzmatazz: perfect for the end of Cromer Pier.
The casting was ideal and could not have been bettered: Paul Allum as Stephen/ Tony had the looks and age, the smooth toned voice and personality, the style and the movement. Opposite him as Samantha/ Lola, Annabelle Abendroth was perfect as the "star to be" with all those auditions into the star of the show, looks and voice and dance all what one would hope for. Incidentally mentioning those auditions, great that live on stage with Andrew Payne tinkling the ivories, good impact.
A welcome return of Andrea Wilson in the role of Gladys, what an excellent casting with that bubbly personality and the voice and dance and acting, so pleased to see her back on stage. And opposite her in yet another great cameo character role, Nick Bird as Sam Silver, always such a good performer. Liked the hapless Willie struggling through circumstances from Robin Taylor, and the New York cop of Richard Delahaye, good characters plus joining in all that movement.
To Havana and a change of scene and characters: great Conchita from Claire Reynolds with vocals and sultry looks perfect for her role, and coping with the villainous Rico ideally cast and acted in style by Matt Scantlebury liking the 'baddy' role (and for a 'play' person, how good the voice), obviously this duo really enjoyed their time on stage and what a sparking relationship.
I dare not think of the frenetic and crowded backstage with all those glittering and fast costume changes, congratulations to the team and to the scenic crew who were well drilled and choreographed into all those changes.
As a company show, I am certain that you are having a great week of the show and enjoying the fun of performance, congratulations to all and you must all have lost weight with all that exercise!
I am so delighted that your Centenary Year went so well with NODA Awards for Norfolk in Best Play and Best Technical, and for the East with Deluxe Programme (a lot of research and work there).
And the icing on the cake on Saturday was my chance to give the James Farr Award for "making a difference" to Pat Chapman prompt 'extraordinaire and special' since 1993, and the feeling of support and delight for her in getting the award from the whole company (as if they had personally won it) was a magic atmosphere.
Su Dupont ~ NODA East District 5