FOR one week only Selkirk has become the hottest spot north of Havana.

Selkirk Musical Theatre Company’s sensational toe-tapping production of Copacabana is certainly the best thing to have hit the Victoria Hall stage in an awfully long time.

And hopes are high that the magical Barry Manilow musical will begin a bright new chapter for this talented production company.

Music and passion have been in fashion for decades each spring in Selkirk as the town’s leading actors strut their stuff.

But this year Copacabana, with all its sequins, smiles and songs, has taken the annual week-long ‘opera’ run to a whole new level.

This is slick, polished and utterly sensational.

And even the great Manilow himself would surely... ask for more.

Everyone already knows Stuart Mitchell is as highly a talented actor and singer as you’ll find on stages in these parts.

But, as both Tony Forte and struggling songwriter Stephen, he surely produces his finest moments in the spotlight.

He is convincing, charismatic and compelling throughout.

The worry when someone is in such scintillating form is that it will create to a rather lopsided production.

But when you have the multi-talented Lauren Gracie playing the other lead, there’s little danger of the stardom see-saw being stuck to the ground.

It’s fair to say Mr Mitchell has met his match.

Lauren not only plays Lola La Mar and Samantha with the type of authority and presence you’d expect from a seasoned professional, but she also choreographed this entire production – and what choreography it is.

The Copa Girls – Zoe Hood, Donna Dodds, Rachel Inglis, Imogen Hoppe, Kara Roberts and Iona Cuthbert – perform the type of complexities you’d encounter during the final of Strictly.

Yet each and every one of them can high-kick, drop-splits and boogie with the best – and all in perfect timing.

And they can all sing beautifully as well.

Set in 1947 New York when the ‘boys are back from the war and everyone is in love’, Copacabana is an all-singing, all-dancing masterpiece from Manilow.

The narrative is amusing and sweet, the songs are ridiculously good and the costumes are incredible.

It’s imaginative in many ways with behind-curtain shadows and split stages all being used to great effect.

It’s well-paced and above all it allows the talented cast from Selkirk Musical Theatre Company to show just how good they can be.

For around two hours, flamboyance and fun flows from the Victoria Hall stage like the Copa cocktails.

The sets are magnificent, the scene changes are creative and slick, and the score is stunning with the occasional Copacabana refrains leading wonderfully to the finale.

Tracey Mulholland is perfectly cast as matchmaker Gladys, delivering a beautiful rendition of Copa Girl along the way.

And it’s good to see Raymond D’Agrosa return to the stage as the sinister Rico Castelli, alongside the Champagne-swilling Fiona Gallagher as Conchita.

Andrew Everitt, incredibly making his debut, provides plenty of laughs as club-owner Sam. And the supporting cast – Logan Fairbairn, Eilidh Walker, Michelle Donaghy, Rosemary Tarrant, Sandra Oliver, Carys Thomson, Ellen Halliday, Anthea Mennie, Wendy Bennett, Robin Murray, Jodie Millar, Kyle Fairbairn, Alister Borthwick, Lorraine Lynn, Karen D’Agrosa, Yvonne Mitchell and Julie Craig – all help make this a show that will be talked about for years to come.

Producer and musical director Derek Calder should take several bows for helping create this visual and audible treat.

Selkirk Musical Theatre Company’s Copacabana is a show not to be missed.

It runs every evening this week from 7.30pm, with a matinee show also staged on Saturday.

Tickets are still available from the Company’s Pop Up Shop.

Cast Stephen/Tony Forte - Stuart Mitchell

Samantha/ Lola La Mar - Lauren Gracie

Gladys Murphy - Tracey Mulholland

Sam Silver - Andrew Everitt

Rico Castelli - Raymond D’Agrosa

Conchita Alvarez - Fiona Gallagher

Maitre D’/Mr Brill/McManus - Robin Murray

Willie/Music Publisher - Jodie Millar

Skip/Carlos/Luis - Kyle Fairbairn

Pianist/Manuel - Alister Borthwick

Accompanist - Lorraine Lynn

Auditionee - Karen D’Agrosa

Veronica Lake - Yvonne Mitchell

Coat Check Girl - Julie Craig

Copa Girls: Rachel Inglis, Imogen Hoppe, Zoe Hood, Donna Dodds, Iona Cuthbert & Kara Roberts.

Ensemble: Logan Fairbairn, Eilidh Walker, Michelle Donaghy, Rosemary Tarrant, Sandra Oliver, Carys Thomson, Ellen Halliday, Anthea Mennie & Wendy Bennett.

The Copa Band

Derek Calder - Keyboard 1/MD

Cath Cormie - Keyboard 2

Sam Lord - Reeds

Paul Cormie - Reeds

Graeme Kennedy - Trumpet

Richard Howden - Trombone

Kit Petry - Bass

Pamela Toward - Percussion

Graham Borthwick - Drumkit


Derek Brown - Backstage Manager

Grant Brown - Stage Manager

Andrew Hood - Set Builder

Sandy Monks, Graham Coulson, Jimmy Gibb, Caleb Gibb, Jason Fairbairn, Kerry Brown, Alan Wheelans, Ian Clapperton, Peter Henderson and Aiyana Gibb.