Date 1st March 2014
Society Shenfield Operatic Society
Venue Queens Theatre Hornchurch
Type of Production Musical
Director David Street
Musical Director Rachael Plunkett
Choreographer David Street


Author: Tessa Davies

Copacabana is one of my favourite shows and I was pleased to see it in the very competent hands of Shenfield Operatic Society.  The show is fun to do and this came through from most of the performers on stage.  One or two of the dancers could have smiled a bit more but, in the main, the entire cast showed their enthusiasm and enjoyment of this show.

Jamie Fudge, playing Tony/Stephen opened the show in fine style and the chorus backing him in his first song were very good, with well drilled movement and good singing.  I did find the costumes in this number a bit boring, they were all in white (as befits the ‘dream’ sequence) but I would have like to see a few more ‘characters’ instead of everyone just wearing white, everyday outfits.  I am sure that the script calls for them to be dressed as characters that we will eventually see in the show.

Jess Pether gave a good performance as Lola/Samantha showing her breadth of performing skills.  Maria Coston was excellent as Gladys, although her cigarette sales would have been boosted if her sales calls had been a bit more aggressive, however that is a minor part of the role and she produced a strong and likeable portrayal of the ‘retired’ Copa girl.  Rick McGeoch was also excellent and he and Maria made a really good partnership, only revealing, at the end, their true relationship in the show.

Kerry Cooke (Conchita Alvarez) was totally right for the part, her accent both in dialogue and song was spot on, the only comment I would make is that; beautiful though the red dress was, it was a shame it was red, as the Copa signature colour was also red so there was rather a lot of red on stage in that scene (and in this sentence!) mind you, the dress was stunning!   Rob Morley (Rico Castelli) played the baddy to perfection; you wouldn’t want to cross him!

The supporting actors all played their parts well and the dancers really walked and danced like showgirls.  The Chorus performers were very supportive and helped to bring the story to life.

If I have to make any adverse comments, it was with the lighting, the Copacabana is supposed to be the foremost nightclub in New York but the lighting was unsympathetic and bland.  The showgirl and Tony’s costumes in this scene had LED accents but the lights went down so late in the scene that we didn’t have time to appreciate them, as they were mostly leaving the stage.   For a large part of the show the lighting seemed to be in an ‘all up’ state with no discernable differences in each scene.  El Bravo and Welcome to Havana are set in the Tropicana which is, to quote Rico, “the largest outdoor nightclub in the world,” so why didn’t the lighting reflect this?

The scenery was adequate although the transition from New York to Havana was not very clear. Because I know the show, I knew what was supposed to be happening, but the audience probably didn’t have a clue and the music, written to cover a long scene change and an aeroplane trip, just seemed to drag on and on.  There were still a few scene change glitches which should have been sorted by Saturday evening.

Overall, though, a good show and an entertaining evening, thank you Shenfield Operatic.