The idea of writing a musical comedy came from Gérard Le Roux. Through his different professions, writer, journalist and financier, he has become a seasoned observer of life with a desire to pass his vision of the world on to others. The story of Cocoa, for which he wrote the libretto, was inspired by an unusual event that occured in Panama at the beginning of the 90’s. The American Army had invaded the country in order to oust its dictator and the manhunt was on. On several occasions, reputable newspapers announced that American forces had found traces of voodoo rituals having been celebrated in the dictator’s hideouts. Noriega finally sought refuge in the Papal Nunciate. Unable to enter this extra-territorial zone, US Marines saw only one solution to this embarrassing situation - - an idea thought up by one of their number who had served in Korea. He remembered being subjected to the ghastly experience of propaganda being bellowed out through loud speakers by the Chinese, in an attempt to wear down the enemy’s nerves. So that was the idea: surround the Vatican Embassy with loud speakers, blasting out hard rock at maximum volume in order to force the dictator to surrender to the pressure of decibels! Fact is, of course, stranger than fiction... The World’s most powerful and most sophisticated army assails the dictator with rock music while the latter tries to defend himself with.... witchcraft!COCOA draws its inspiration not only from this incredibly bizarre situation, but also from the diversity of musical genres offered by the story: ethnic African, liturgical, rock and roll and Latino beat, as well as songs more typical of musical comedy style.With all this in mind, the couple set to work.
COCOA was presented to the producers of Tommy and Guys and Dolls in New York. For six months, they worked on certain modifications. Too demanding financially, the production never saw the light of day. Later, Boda Markovic, Director and Stage Manager of Serbia’s Radio and Television Corporation, adapted COCOA for radio and coordinated a production involving some hundred people. The Radio Belgrade Symphony Orchestra, the Jazz Big Band, a mixed voice choir and childrens’ choir made the recording. Orchestration was undertaken by Srdjan Jasomovic and translation into Serbian of both text and songs, by Irina Markovic. The show has been broadcast many times. In 2000, COCOA was chosen to represent Serbia’s Montenegro Radio and Television corporation at “Prixitalia” in Bologna. Maya and Gérard Le Roux produced the CD (see discography) based on the work and recording done in Belgrade. Voices were recorded in Geneva (in the original English language version) by a group of only four singers. The CD is at present being broadcast by some fifteen national radio stations.
COCOA is the name of a minuscule country. It’s economy is based on one staple product alone: cocoa beans - - essential in the production of any form of chocolate. The fermentation secret of these extraordinary beans is kept by the country’s three most eminent personages: its dictatator: El Libertador; the Apostolic Nuncio, the Padre, and the witchdoctor, Papanouga. Each one of them possesses a section of the formula, which they piece together once a year during a ceremony. The three dignitaries are in a state of ferment concerning the young and very lovely Isabella. She is the pivot around which the whole country revolves. She is linked to each one of the three worthies who none the less are in a state of confusion due to yet another secret. An American congressman (Blunt), whose future career depends on the powerful Washington Chocolate Lobby arrives in Cocoa accompanied by his wife Amelia. His intention is to sever the exclusive commercial ties between Cocoa and Switzerland and to uncover, no matter what it might take to do so, the secret of the mysterious potion. The scene is set for a succession of astounding situations. How does one declare war on a country with no army? Who should one bewitch in self-defence? Truths are unveiled, volleys of dialogue are exchanged, and Amelia undergoes a transformation from downtrodden wife to sexy vamp! The comedy is set against the backdrop of a multi-ethnic population. Although each group is attached to its own traditions, they nevertheless manage to coexist in harmony. The story itself is a paradox, even a chain of paradoxes. It can involuntarily be linked to the present state of confusion born of all the contradictions of our foreign policies. Despite this, with its magic, its drollery, and the varied nature of its music, COCOA remains essentially a comedy.