Copacabana at the Buxton Opera House Review


Buxton Opera House

15-18 October 2014

Reviewed by Debbie Tasker

Buxton Opera House is one of the most beautiful theatres I have ever had the pleasure to visit. The foyer and sweeping stairs are magnificent and you receive a warm welcome from the ushers on entering. Well maintained throughout this venue is full of character and charm with gold cherubs looking down on you from above the stage and murals and gold gilding adorning the walls it is well worth visiting even if only for the decor.

I have a small negative regarding the bar last night though. I ordered a lemonade and the lady gave me what I would call the dreggs out of a bottle off the side. I could see it would be flat and was sure she would too, but no she handed it me and when I tasted it there and then passed it back and said could she change it please. She did politely and quickly but yet again my drink came from a half full bottle she got out of a cupboard. I went and sat down but I am afraid to say it was the same as the first. I got my friend to try it her comment ewww was all I needed to know it wasn’t me being picky. I once again went back this time it was a very friendly gentleman who opened a new bottle with a smile and all was well!

Now for the show…. as Craig Revel Horwood would say it was a disaster darling. Things started to go wrong when the usher announced that the show was running late, we had nipped outside for some fresh air and unfortunately couldn’t get back inside the building as it was bursting to the seams with audience members none of whom could take their seats. It was a very wet night so half an hour on when it we were told they were ready we were soaking wet and I bit disgruntled.

We took our seats in the stalls where the view was fine. The show began and a huge blast of smoke came from the stage into the stalls. I am not exaggerating when I say it was choking many of us in the first ten rows. People were putting their scarfs around faces and coughing and spluttering, we saw the funny side and the show begins. The house lights didn’t go down straightaway so the right atmosphere wasn’t set from the very beginning and there seemed a long wait for the cast to enter the stage.

Copacabana is a Barry Manilow musical wrote by himself, Bruce Sussman and Jack Feldman. Lola (Jennifer Harding) arrives in New York dreaming of being the next big performer. Here she meets Tony Starr (S Club 7’s Jon Lee) an aspiring songwriter who helps her on the road to stardom whilst falling in love with her. Rico meanwhile decides he want her to perform in his club drugs her and takes her to Havana much to the disgust of his long suffering wife Conchita. Cue Tony and Sam Silver (Richard Grieve who you might know from Emmerdale, Neighbours and Home and Away) heading off on a mercy mission. The strongest cast members are Richard Grieve and Sharon Sextons (Conchita) and they hold a very poor show together just about with their strong voices.

The first half the show was completely inaudible when more than one actor was singing. Jon Lee could hardly be heard even when singing alone. Awful ear piercing shrieks were coming from the sound system. Bits kept falling off the set which was diabolical. Two moveable staircases in a dull blue and a couple of tables. No lights, pizzazz or colour. Am I wrong in thinking Copacabana is set in two of the biggest cabaret clubs of their time? The stage looked more like the back alley where a stage door would be.

Costumes were ill fitting and a couple of the dancers had ladders in their tights whilst others looked like Nora Batty. When they did flamboyant though, they did fairly it well.

After the interval we felt sure they would have improved things. The second half begins and within minutes a cast member walks off saying in a very loud voice “we can’t hear a thing out there” we were in fits of laughter again and the show came to a halt for around another 15 – 20 minutes.

During the first half quite a few people left and when the second act began there was I am afraid to say lots more empty seats. This delay was the last straw for many who upped and left and when it did start up again it was a very bare auditorium. The second half is a little better than the first and you could hear more clearly. The best part of the evening was the finale as the ensemble perform the well-known song of the title.

This is a very poor production. The theatre staff tried hard to keep everybody’s spirits up and running as smoothly as possible. The cast stumble through what I can only describe as a farce, and at times I did feel sorry for them. It showed in their performance on the whole that they were not happy and comfortable with the staging, lights sound etc…

On the way out we met a couple of lovely ladies and got chatting, they were very disappointed too and said please don’t be put off visiting our super theatre again. We are not and looking forward to a more professional show next time.

Copacabana was more like something from an amateur society than the dazzling dynamic show we were expecting. Hopefully the technical issues will be sorted out for the next performance.

There are plenty of bars/eateries and hotels a couple of minute’s walk from the Buxton Opera House and we parked easily on the street with no charge. The area is very quaint and would make an ideal weekend getaway or a night out.

Rating: 1.5/5

Tickets cost from £22 to £24 (plus £1 booking fee).

Copacabana is at the Buxton Opera House until 18 October 2014. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0845 127 2190.

Buxton Opera House, Water Street, Buxton, Derbyshire, SK17 6XN | 0845 127 2190

1 half Star

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