Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl…So begins the saga of Lola and Tony. Their tale of love and romance on the way to stardom had captivated millions, and now is a full-scale, Broadway-style musical fantasy. Original songs created by Barry Manilow, dazzling costumes, spectacular sets and sensational choreography all add up to an evening of entertainment that will leave you breathless.
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.
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 realise 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“).