'Copacabana' could set Atlantic City trend


ATLANTIC CITY -- Barry Manilow's "Copacabana" was a hit song in the 1970s.

In 1985, the story of a love triangle at the legendary New York nightclub was made into a CBS-TV movie that starred Manilow.

Now, it's about to become a musical at Caesars in Atlantic City. The story is the same: Lola is the aging showgirl looking back; Tony is the star of the Copa, and Rico is trying to break them up.

The show, which opens today, is to be a full, Broadway-style musical with complex sets, lavish costumes and a cast of 20. There are 20-foot-high movie screens surrounding the sets, projectors all over the theater, a huge ramp that surrounds the stage and an intricate light and sound system. Manilow does not star in it, but he is the director.

It's debuting in Atlantic City because Caesars' entertainment executives wanted something different for the hotel. They'll still have headliners and they'll still trot out the standard, 60-minute music revue from time to time, but in "Copacabana" they have their very own Broadway-type musical directed by a star.

The show, with tickets at $17.50, has had a huge advance sale. If it's a hit, some say it could begin a trend in Atlantic City entertainment.

If it does run for a while, it could stir other Atlantic City hotels to try an original musical by a celebrity. Lots of people who visit Atlantic City (the average gambler goes 10 to 12 times a year) complain about seeing the same old headliners

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