Photo Flash: Pittsburgh CLO Presents Barry Manilow's COPACABANA 7/21-8/2 At Benedum Center
"Her name was Lola..." and she's here in Pittsburgh CLO's production of Barry Manilow's Copacabana July 21 through August 2 at the Benedum Center in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh's Cultural District.Travel back in time with Lola, Tony and Rico when "music and passion were always in fashion." Inspired by Barry Manilow's Grammy® Award-winning hit song "Copacabana," this old-fashioned musical weaves a seductive story of love, jealousy and murder as told through the eyes of an aspiring songwriter. Complete with splashy production numbers and an original Latin-inspired score, Barry Manilow's Copacabana features more than a few surprises for even the biggest Barry Manilow fan.Stephen Berger (Sam) returns to Pittsburgh CLO for the first time since 1993 when he starred in Fiorello! and South Pacific. His Broadway credits include The Pajama Game, Into the Woods, The Dinner Party, True West, Wonderful Town, Laughter on the 23rd Floor and Little Me. Mr. Berger also has a recurring role as Judge Berger in TV's "Law & Order." Robert Cuccioli (Rico) made his Broadway debut as Javert in Les Misérables and earned a Tony® nomination for his role in Jekyll and Hyde. His previous Pittsburgh CLO credits include Les Misérables, The Sound of Music, Funny Girl, Guys and Dolls, Bells are Ringing and The Pajama Game. He also directed Jekyll and Hyde for Pittsburgh CLO.Tim Hartman (Brill/McManus) has appeared on Broadway in A Tale of Two Cities, and the Encore production of Finian's Rainbow. Mr. Hartman has performed in numerous Pittsburgh CLO productions, including 17 appearances in A Musical Christmas Carol. He has also appeared in Pittsburgh CLO's Les Misérables, Annie, Camelot and Funny Girl and in the films "The Silence of the Lambs," "The Piano Lesson," and "The Mothman Prophecies."Elise Santora (Conchita) makes her Pittsburgh CLO debut. Her Broadway credits include The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Capeman and Man of La Mancha. She also has been a back-up vocalist for David Bowie and Julio Iglesias. Chandra L. Schwartz (Lola) was last seen as Sharpay in Pittsburgh CLO's production of Disney's High School Musical. She has performed on Broadway alongside Bernadette Peters in Gypsy and in Hairspray.Sally Wilfert (Gladys/Mom) made her Pittsburgh CLO debut in Les Misérables this season. She has appeared on Broadway in Assassins, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and King David. She also performed in James Lapine's National Tour of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and was a back-up singer for Liza Minnelli in Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall.Tony Yazbeck (Tony/Stephen) just completed his run as Tulsa in Gypsy on Broadway (Outer Critics Circle Nom.). Mr. Yazbeck's other Broadway Credits include A Chorus Line, Never Gonna Dance, Oklahoma! and Gypsy. He has appeared on television in "All My Children" and "As the World Turns" and is presently in the feature documentary "Every Little Step." He trained at Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and Point Park University. Charles Repole (Director) has directed numerous productions for Pittsburgh CLO including Annie Get Your Gun, 42nd Street, Annie, Singing in the Rain, My Fair Lady, Carousel and Cinderella. His New York City and Broadway directing credits include the highly acclaimed concert versions of Dubarry was a Lady and Call Me Madam and the revival of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, among others. As an actor, he has appeared on Broadway in Doubles, Whoopee! and Very Good Eddie, which earned him a Tony® nomination and a Theatre World Award.John MacInnis (Choreographer) is thrilled to be returning to Pittsburgh CLO, where he choreographed the 2008 production of Annie Get Your Gun and the 2004 production of Beauty and the Beast. His other credits include the European companies of Beauty and the Beast set in Holland, Germany, Belgium, and Spain. In 2002 he directed and choreographed The Olympic Medals Plaza Ceremonies at the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also directed and choreographed The Radio City Christmas Spectacular from 1999 to 2001. Tom Helm (Music Director) returns for his 14th season with Pittsburgh CLO. On Broadway, he was the musical director of Les Misérables, Me and My Girl and the revival of Brigadoon. Mr. Helm was also the musical director for the First National Tour of Cats and conducted Cats on Broadway early in its run. Mr. Helm is also the resident music director at Paper Mill Playhouse. "Copacabana," the song, was written in 1978 for Barry Manilow's "Even Now" album. It soared up the charts, and Barry Manilow entered the "Guinness Book of World Records" for having four songs in the Top 40 simultaneously. The single quickly went gold, and contributed to the album going triple platinum. The song earned Mr. Manilow his first Grammy® Award.
Several years later, Dick Clark approached "Copacabana's" writers, Barry Manilow, Bruce Sussman and Jack Feldman, about adapting the tune into a musical film for television. It was the first time such a project was attempted since Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Cinderella." Starring Annette O'Toole, Barry Manilow, Estelle Getty and Joseph Bologna, the movie garnered great ratings and wonderful reviews and won an Emmy® Award.
Shortly thereafter, Caesar's Resorts in Atlantic City contacted the creative team about adapting the film for its show room - the caveat being it had to be less than 75 minutes long. Mr. Manilow, Mr. Sussman and Mr. Feldman proceeded to invent a new form: Vegas review meets Broadway show. It was wildly successful and received glowing reviews.
This prompted British producers to inquire about the possibility of expanding the show to a full-length, two-act, West End musical. Discarding much of the Atlantic City production, the creators added several more characters and sub-plots and doubled the size of the score. This production enjoyed a 4-month, pre-London tour, ran two seasons on London's West End and toured for more than a year thereafter.
This dynamic new musical kicked off a 40-week national tour June 15th, 2000, with its American premiere at the Pittsburgh CLO, followed by a run as part of the Dallas Summer Musical season. It then embarked on a tour that left a trail of yellow feathers and sequins through thirty North American cities including Boston, Philadelphia, New Haven, San Jose, Sacramento, Seattle and Denver among others.
The American premiere of Barry Manilow's Copacabana was produced by Pittsburgh CLO, Roger Shiffman, Anita Drobny & The Paradigm Group, Dallas Summer Musicals and American Musical Theatre of San Jose in association with Garry Kief, John Ashby and Stiletto Entertainment. Since then, there have been more than 100 productions of Barry Manilow's Copacabana on stage throughout the United States, the Netherlands, Canada, Europe and India.Barry Manilow (Co-author Book and Music) is the undisputed #1 Adult Contemporary Artist of All Time and has triumphed in every facet of music, including performing, composing, arranging and producing. This Grammy®, Emmy® and Tony® Award winner's discography has yielded an unprecedented 38 Top 40 hits including classics such as "Copacabana," "I Write the Songs," "This One's For You," and "Weekend in New England" and his record sales exceed 58 million. Mr. Manilow's successful theatrical career ranges from his Tony® Award-winning Broadway debut in 1977 to an standing room only eight-week run on Broadway in 1989. The world premiere of his musical, Harmony (book and lyrics by Bruce Sussman), enjoyed a successful run at the La Jolla Playhouse. Since 2005, Mr. Manilow has called Las Vegas his home away from home where he performs to sell-out crowds. Following the huge success of Manilow: Music and Passion, Ultimate Manilow: The Hits opened in September 2008 at the Las Vegas Hilton to rave reviews. Most recently, Mr. Manilow created the Manilow Music Project as part of his Manilow Fund for Health and Hope (www.manilowfund.org) which encourages individuals to get involved in local schools by donating instruments or music. Bruce Sussman (Co-author Book, Music & Lyrics) is the co-author of well over 150 published and recorded songs written for dozens of artists, films, television programs and stage musicals. The majority of these projects were written with his collaborator of more than 25 years, Barry Manilow. His impressive stage credits include authoring the book and/or lyrics for such shows as Harmony, Wendy Wasserstein's Miami, and Ted Tally's Coming Attractions (Obie Award and Pulitzer Prize finalist), and many of his songs have been featured in stage revues. Mr. Sussman's songs have been recorded by an array of artists including Mr. Manilow, Bette Midler and Michael Feinstein and these recordings have earned him a Grammy® Award and multiple Gold and Platinum records.Jack Feldman (Co-author Book, Music & Lyrics) has written music and lyrics for theater, film, television and pop records. His vast number of works includes the lyrics for Disney's "Newsies" (music by Alan Menken), "Thumbelina," "Oliver & Company," "Tribute," "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York" and "The Lion King II: Simba's Pride." He has written dozens of pop songs, including the Grammy® award-winning "Copacabana" and the top 10 hit "I Made It Through the Rain." For the theater, he wrote the score for Ted Tally's Coming Attractions, Wendy Wasserman's Isn't It Romantic and the score for the musical Miami, which he wrote with Mr. Sussman and Ms. Wasserstein.
Tickets for Barry Manilow's Copacabana start at just $18.50 and are available online at pittsburghCLO.org, by calling 412-456-6666 or at the Box Office at Theater Square. Groups of 10 or more may call 412-325-1582.
Photos by Matt Polk
Chandra Lee Schwartz