Barry Manilow s unforgettable hit song is brought to life onstage in this entertaining nightclub spectacle.
Show Essentials
+ Ensemble

Full Synopsis

Act One

As the lights come up ("Overture"), we enter a dreamlike scene of an elegant nightclub, circa 1940's. Showgirls, busboys, G.I.'s, waitresses and entire company are revealed in a frozen stage picture. In the center (back to audience) is Stephen, a young songwriter (and our guide for the evening). We are in the Copacabana of his imagination, populated by characters of his invention. As his studio takes shape before him, the cast unfreezes and begins to dance and sing full out to a song that is waiting to be born ("Copacabana").

Just at the number's climax, a swank Manhattan apartment set rolls out and it is present day. Stephen's wife, Samantha, is heard and it snaps him back to reality. She reminds him that her parents will be arriving soon and he needs to get ready. Stephen turns back to his keyboard and drum machine while Samantha bemoans that he looks more longingly at his machines than at her.

Stephen's song begins to take shape as he decides it will be about a showgirl at the Copa—the glamorous nightclub of 1947—just after World War II. Her name is Lola La Mar from Tulsa, OK, and she has "Just Arrived" at Grand Central Station, suitcases in hand and a dream in her heart—along with many other young women from across the U.S. Stephen is pleased with his creation so far and as he dashes into the wings, a driving big band drum beat is heard and the glamorous Copacabana takes shape. Copa Boys begin entering the stage and we hear Stephen's voice introduce Tony--a songwriter by day, and at night he works in the world famous Copacabana. Led by Tony, the Copa Boys sing and dance their way through "Dancin' Fool."

Just then, Lola enters the club, trying unsuccessfully to blend into her surroundings. She asks to see the manager, and with the help of Tony and Gladys, the worldly-wise cigarette girl, secures an audition with Sam Silver, the Copa's no-nonsense manager, for the next afternoon. As Tony watches Lola leave, he senses he's smitten and sings "Sweet Heaven" with the Copa Boys and Girls.

The next day, Tony and Lola go on several rounds of separate auditions, none successful for either. Outside the Copa later that afternoon, Lola commiserates with Gladys about her awful audition experiences and Gladys tries to offer her advice ("Copa Girl"). Inside a rehearsal is going on and tables are being set for the evening. Lola asks Sam Silver about her audition for him and since she does not have an accompanist, Tony offers to play for her. Sam sits and Tony goes to the piano with Lola's music, her original song and arrangement from back home. She begins as she has done so for all the other (unsuccessful) auditions. When Sam stops her, Tony interrupts and asks for a chance to do it again—a bit differently this time. He quickly coaches Lola on what to do and she timidly begins "Man Wanted," but becomes bolder as it progresses—even dancing during the number. Sam gives her the job and being impressed with Tony as well, tells him he's back in the show.

Lola and Tony are both thrilled and Lola flirts with Tony asking him to show her how he writes a song. Tony takes the bait and begins composing a song ("Who Needs To Dream"), becoming more earnest and serious as he sings to Lola. The song culminates in the two passionately embracing.

Stephen's voice is heard again as he introduces new characters to the story. Rico Castelli, a diamond wearing, smooth gangster-type enters the club with Conchita, his Latina bombshell girlfriend and a couple of his 'goons.' They sit down front and watch the Copa Girls perform "I Gotta Be Bad," starring Lola. Rico cannot take his eyes off of her and invites her to join him for a drink after the show. She proceeds to get drunk on champagne while Rico tries to convince her that she should come with him to star in his club, The Tropicana, in Havana, Cuba. During a performance of dancing Bolero couples, Rico sings "Bolero D'Amore" and drugs Lola, carrying her away as the scene changes from New York to Havana--and Rico's bedroom. Stephen appears and gazes at Rico, but is powerless to stop the scene that is taking place.

Act Two

Though we hear Samantha's voice calling to Stephen, his evolving story continues, taking us inside The Tropicana Night Club, Havana. Looking extravagantly sexy, Conchita enters and welcomes everyone with "Havana/Caramba," backed up by The Tropicana Boys. Rico tells Conchita that he wants to revive the number that made her famous, El Bravo, but he wants to make Lola the star this time. This crushing news more than angers Conchita, and her jealousy pushes her to "talk" to Lola.

Back at the Copacabana in New York, Gladys is tending to Willy, who is battered and bruised from Rico's goons. A cop is talking to them about what happened when Sam enters, hears the story and joins in. When Tony enters and hears the same, he knows he must save Lola and rushes off. Sam and the others now realize the danger both Tony and Lola are in ("Who Am I Kidding") and Sam decides to go to Havana, too.

In Havana, Conchita is able to get rid of the body guard and enter Lola's room. As Lola slowly and groggily awakens, Conchita realizes Lola truly has no idea what has happened and has no designs on Rico whatsoever. In fact, when Rico comes into the room she pulls away from his advances, making him think Conchita has been "telling her stinking lies again." Rico angrily sends Conchita out and before leaving himself, he grabs Lola to tell her in no uncertain terms that she will learn to like her situation with him. Lola trembles on the bed ("This Can't Be Real") and soon we see and hear Stephen in his studio getting caught up in the scene—joining with Lola in a kind of passionate dream ballet.

Conchita is preparing to rehearse El Bravo when Tony gets her attention from behind a curtain. She knows it means trouble for her, but she helps him devise a plan to rescue Lola without Lola's knowledge. Several nights later, the performance of "El Bravo" begins with Lola and the chorus of Pirates onstage at The Tropicana. At the appropriate moment, Tony swings onstage as El Bravo and total chaos ensues: Rico leaps onstage, Sam directs Tony and Lola to follow him, Rico grabs Lola, points his gun at her head then turns the gun on Tony. A single shot rings out, but it is Rico who falls to the ground. Conchita enters with a gun in her hand and kneels over Rico's body.

Tony and Lola revive Sam, who tripped and knocked himself out in the ruckus, and convince him he was the hero who saved them. As they all leave for New York, Tony and Lola realize they are truly in love ("Sweet Heaven"). During the song we are transported back to the Copacabana, as the Copa Boys and Girls join Tony and Lola for a grand performance.

Stephen's studio rolls on with the drum machine playing again. As he switches the machine off, he pulls out Lola's feather from his pocket and hears a montage of voices from his creation. As Samantha enters in a dress that is the modern equivalent to one of Lola's, we see her face clearly for the first time--she is a dead ringer for Lola. This vision jars Stephen back to reality, but before he can act on it Samantha's parents arrive, looking and talking exactly like Gladys and Sam from Stephen's creation. All this makes him realize that everything he wants and needs is right in front of him—most of all, the girl of his dreams, Samantha ("Finale Act Two"). Though now firmly in the present day, Stephen will always remember the music and passion of the Copa ("Copacabana Finale").



Cast Size: Flexible Cast Size
Cast Type: Ensemble Cast
Dance Requirements: Standard

Character Breakdown

A handsome, young songwriter in present day. He is a charming workaholic who realizes how much he loves his wife after writing a new love story. Actor doubles as Tony.
Gender: male
Age: 30 to 40
Vocal range top: F5
Vocal range bottom: F3
Stephen's wife, who appears as Lola La Mar in the story later on. Loves her husband, but realizes that she plays second fiddle to his work.
Gender: female
Age: 25 to 35
Young, good-looking, and talented. A struggling songwriter by day, worker at the Copacabana by night. Charming, confident, and brave. He truly loves Lola. Actor doubles as Stephen.
Gender: male
Age: 30 to 40
Vocal range top: G5
Vocal range bottom: E3
A young, pretty, Southern girl with misguided ambitions to become a Broadway star. Actor doubles as Samantha.
Gender: female
Age: 20 to 30
Vocal range top: E5
Vocal range bottom: F3
Gladys Murphy
A cheeky, warm-hearted cigarette girl at the Copacabana. Shows Lola the ropes of the club. Protective, persuasive, and glamorous.
Gender: female
Age: 30 to 40
Vocal range top: E5
Vocal range bottom: G3
Sam Silver
The gruff manager of the Copacabana. Puts on a tough front, but is really a jovial father figure. Conscientious about his age and baldness.
Gender: male
Age: 55 to 65
Vocal range top: G5
Vocal range bottom: F3
Rico Castelli
An elegant but dangerous Gangster who manages The Tropicana in Havana. A suave, abusive, controlling brute.
Gender: male
Age: 40 to 50
Vocal range top: E5
Vocal range bottom: F3
Conchita Alvarez
An aging Latina bombshell of the first order and Rico's long-suffering partner. Loves being a star and loves Rico for who he once was. Tough and jaded, but kind.
Gender: female
Age: 40 to 45
Vocal range top: E5
Vocal range bottom: G3
A New York cop of Irish descent and friend of Sam's. Believes everything should be left up to the cops.
Gender: male
Age: 40 to 50
Vocal range top: G5
Vocal range bottom: F3
A no-nonsense waiter at the Copacabana. Doesn't take to Lola at first, but is harmed trying to save her in the end.
Gender: male
Age: 25 to 45
Vocal range top: E5
Vocal range bottom: F3
Show Girls; Show Boys; Copa Girls; Copa Boys; Tropicana Girls; Tropicana Boys; Pirates; Cops; Waiters; Busboys; Sailors
Full Song List
Copacabana: Caramba
Copacabana: Overture
Copacabana: Copa Opening
Copacabana: Just Arrived
Copacabana: Dancin Fool
Copacabana: Sweet Heaven
Copacabana: Lola Audition 1
Copacabana: Who Needs To Dream?
Copacabana: Bolero D'Amor
Copacabana: Havana/Caramba
Copacabana: Who Am I Kidding?
Copacabana: This Can t Be Real
Copacabana: El Bravo
Copacabana: Finale
Copacabana: Copacabana Finale

Show History


Copacabana is inspired by Jack Feldman, Bruce Sussman and Barry Manilow s 1978 hit song "Copcabana". After the success, and Grammy nomination of the song, the team expanded on the song to make TV movie musical in 1985. Following the TV movie musical, Manilow conceived of an Atlantic City nightclub show in the early 1990s. Copacabana the stage musical followed in 1994.


Copacabana premiered on March 21, 1994 at Theatre Royal in Plymouth,

Critical Reaction

"As vibrant, playful and tropically colored as a Bahama Mama topped with a magenta paper parasol!" -Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

"The kind of score that you actually find yourself humming" -Pittsburgh Post-Gazette




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