We haven't tried to make a stamp on the future of artistic theatre: it's designed to be pure spectacle, with these fantastic costumes and everything. People saying there's no substance to it, well, that's hogwash, and you can't fail to enjoy the show, if you're honest.
We all knew right from day one, that critics in general would not look at what it was designed to do, but try and get deeper into it. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of good comments about the show. The intelligent people reviewed it for what it was - even though they may not have personally liked it, they saw the entertainment value. Other people went in determined not to like it, and to find fault with it, which you can do with any piece. But then look at City of Angels: it got the best reviews imaginable, but it just emptied the house.
At the end of the day, I respect everyone's opinion - it may not be their cup of tea. But we deliberately put Copacabana on a level where it could not be compared to any other musical, which was a bold move: it's a musical which will stand or fall on its own. In Edinburgh, we didn't get one good review, but we did amazing business on the word of mouth, and in the last two weeks we were virtually sold out. Critics in this country can help a show, but they don't break a show like they do in America. The audience in this country are intelligent and make their own minds up, and this show is intended purely for the entertainment of the people. Every night we've had a standing ovation lasting from five to 10 minutes: they're thoroughly enjoying themselves, and they're telling their friends too.
The plot's been called thin - sure, it's based around the title song - but really the audience love to know what's going to happen at the end of the story: that way they can sit back and relax and enjoy the music. Already, about 90 per cent of the Barry Manilow fan club have come to see the show and raved about it; I even know of at least 100 of them who have been to over 50 performances. It's obviously very good news for us if the show becomes a cult classic.
Interview by Steven Poole
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