Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bringing ‘Rent’ to Cuba

Bringing 'Rent' to Cuba

Havana once had a thriving musical theater tradition, but since the
revolution of 1959, fully staged shows have been rare in Cuba, and
Broadway hits have been entirely absent. But that may be changing.

In June, the British director Christopher Renshaw tested the waters with
a workshop production of "Carmen Jones," Oscar Hammerstein II's 1943
adaptation of Bizet's "Carmen," with a Cuban cast and an updated,
salsa-tinged score.

That experiment helped revive a taste for Broadway musicals in Cuba, and
now Havana is about to have its first full-fledged production in more
than half a century: Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment announced on
Monday that it will stage Jonathan Larson's "Rent" – a work that, like
"Carmen Jones," has its roots in opera (the Puccini classic "La
Bohème"). The production opens on Christmas Eve, and is expected to run
for three months at the Bertolt Brecht Theater.

The staging, a collaboration with the Cuban National Council of
Performing Arts, will be directed by Andy Señor Jr., who made his
professional debut playing Angel in the Broadway production of "Rent,"
and later became the assistant director to Michael Greif, the work's
original director, in an Off Broadway revival of the work. The work will
be performed in Spanish with a cast of 15 Cuban actors.

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