The Placer Performance Calendar


Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title Barry Manilow's Copacabana, the Musical
Organization Stand Out Talent
Date(s) of show April 4 - 19, 2014
Reviewer Dick Frantzreb
Review There’s a lot to like about Stand Out Talent's production of Copacabana, so let’s get started. First of all, the settings are two night clubs: the Copacabana in New York and the Tropicana in Havana. The stage show is a big part of the action in both venues, and I thought these musical numbers were dazzling. Part of it was the impressive costumes (I lost count of the number of changes the dancers had to go through). But the choreography was creative and simply exhilarating. Even more than the choreography, though, it was the energy – and life – that the dancers put into their performances that made them really memorable.

The first big dance number featured Tyler Leung (Tony) out front, and I was struck with the charisma he brought to that number. It was characteristic of his acting throughout the show, and I found him a confident and yet intense leading man. That’s remarkable because I later learned that he took on that role a mere 2-1/2 weeks before opening night.

Olivia Lawrence also was very credible as ingénue-turned-showgirl, Lola. She has as strong, listenable voice, and adding her dancing, she seemed to be to be perfect in that leading role. Amber Hollingsworth, as Gladys Murphy, gave a break-out performance (in her first leading role) as the confidante with a heart of gold, and she wowed the opening night audience with her big solo number. These two singers, plus the singing of the ensemble, provided some of the musical highlights of the evening.

Michael Coleman delivered an entertaining comic performance as nightclub owner, Sam Silver. And then there was Kevin Kirtlan as the villain, Rico Castelli. From the moment Kirtlan entered the stage, he projected a persona that was simply magnetic. It was arresting and beautifully sinister.

Kelly Andrews as Conchita Alvarez had me guessing from the moment she spoke. “Is she Hispanic – Cuban even?” Her singing and dancing were excellent, but it was the accent – and the way she carried herself that really made her character believable. When I spoke to her after the show, I was amazed to hear her speak without an accent. You can add to that amazement another fact I learned later: Andrews, like Leung, assumed her role only 2-1/2 weeks before opening night.

You can imagine from those last-minute changes that the drama on stage was not the only drama that characterized this production. This was a "Community Series" show for Stand Out Talent, which means that roles are not pre-cast, and the director pretty much works with what she gets when auditions come around.  And director Jennifer Bortz is among the best in teaching the full range of musical theater skills.  This time, though, it worked out that two leading roles, those of Leung and Kirtlan, had to be filled by excellent actors who are just not singers, and their songs demonstrated that fact. But they get lots of credit for taking up the challenge, and to my mind, the commitment and talent that they and the rest of the cast brought to this production explain why I left the show smiling and humming that last number to myself.

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