Blue and blonde wigs, vibrant purple and hot pink sequined dresses, lashes long enough to caress the clouds, and a powerful voice that has moved audiences all over the world…all just snippets of the life of Cuban musical sensation Celia Cruz.
The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County launched the late international music star back into the hearts of her fans with the hit musical Celia: The Life & Music of Celia Cruz.
The 60-year journey began with black and white photos revealing Celia Cruz as a child, a teenager, a musician and a loving wife.
A love story like no other, the events of Cruz’s life were recreated through the eyes of her beloved grief-stricken husband, Pedro Knight, who in ailing health took the audience on a magnificent timetable of tribulations, successes, fears, passions and, above all, love.
Not only are we taken inside the heart of Celia Cruz, but also the love she had for her country. The depiction of Cruz’s disregard for Fidel Castro prompted much applause from the audience. The conditions of the nation compelled Cruz and her husband to vow to never return to their homeland.
The couple soon took refuge in the lights and glamour of New York City.
The rollercoaster ride of emotions included explosive performances from New York, Mexico, England and even Zaire, Africa. Each memory came to life as the audience witnessed Cruz’s musical growth and relished in some of her major hits.
The performances of Quimbara, Guantanamera and La Vida es un Carnival lit up the room more than the hundreds of light bulbs surrounding the James L. Knight Concert Hall.
The bright flaring gowns along with the Latin-infused choreography transformed the room into a dance hall. By the end of the showcase, everyone was on their feet.
New York native Anissa Gathers, who played Celia, couldn’t have been more prepared for the role.
“I was initially playing the part of Celia’s mother, but there was a sudden cast change and I was asked to step into the role of Celia. I was more than ready,” Gathers told the South Florida Times.
Celia: The Life & Music of Celia Cruz runs through July 6. Select performances contain dialogue in both English and Spanish, while others are spoken exclusively in Spanish. All songs are sung in Spanish at every performance.
Photo courtesy of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County. Anissa Gathers as Celia Cruz
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Musical – Celia: The Life & Music of Celia Cruz
WHERE: Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County; John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall, 400 SE Second Ave. Miami.
WHEN: Monday, June 18 through Thursday, July 6.
COST: $50 and up.
CONTACT: Visit www.arshtcenter.org or 305-949-6722.