Friday, June 5, 2009

Arsth Center: CELIA: The Life & Music of Celia Cruz (1 review)

CELIA: The Life & Music of Celia Cruz played to sold-out houses at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts last year, before moving on to play several other venues around the world.
Following a sold-out international tour, the super hot musical that had all Miami singing and dancing last summer returns to South Florida with a hit parade of Celia’s greatest songs, including “La vida es un carnaval” y “La negra tiene tumbao.” If you missed it last summer, here’s your chance to discover what everyone was talking about! Or see it again and relive the astonishing life and music of the sensational salsa diva, from her humble beginnings in Cuba to international fame and fortune. It’s an amazing journey, brought to life by a remarkable company of singers, dancers, and musicians, featuring Anissa Gathers as Celia.
Daniel Garcia Chavez directed a production that features choreography by Leo Chavez, and stars Anissa Gathers.

Jordan Levin reviewed for the Miami Herald:
On view in Wednesday night's performance were a new cast (except for Anissa Gathers, who returns as the singing Cruz), new choreography, the work of a new director and a few minor changes. But the changes are mostly for the worse, and the show, no longer riding the excitement that surrounded its initial New York run and then its Miami debut, feels stiffer and clunkier, like it's going through the motions to paint the picture the audience is presumed to want. Even Gathers, who still looks and sounds uncannily like the beloved singer, has lost much of the spark that made her so exciting when we first heard her last year.
The two lead actors, Pedro Telemaco as Pedro Knight, Cruz's husband, and Seidy Carrera, who plays Cruz in the narrative speaking scenes, are cringe-inducingly bad.
Bad enough that Carmen Rivera and Candido Tirado's script has the characters tell us about their emotions and their story, instead of showing us or bringing the drama to life onstage.
New director Daniel Garcia Chavez speeds up the pace, which makes the scene-song-scene-song format feel more mechanical.
...Gathers, whose powerful voice and explosive natural energy made her the soul of the show last year, seems worn down by repetition.

She still packed a punch on songs like Quimbara and Bemba ColorĂ¡, but on others, he, too, just seemed to be going through the motions of representing Cruz's music.

CELIA: The Life & Music of Celia Cruz plays at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts through June 21, 2009.

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