New York City Theater
"…Gardel, The Musical"
Repertorial Espanol, Manhattan
A musical mounted on a pocket-size stage, with minimal props and sets, with few distractions, can be captivating. It offers the chance for actors, music, choreography, and story to shine.
Thus it is with “…Gardel, The Musical,” now making its first stateside appearance at the Repertorio Espanol (in Spanish with English translation via head-sets). Mounted on a stark stage, with performers etched by Robert Weber Federico’s clean, sharp lighting against the black curtains, the story unfolds dramatically. Lynnette Salas directs imaginatively, using her small ensemble group as effective back-up to the featured players.
Through story, song, and dance, “Gardel” depicts the life of Carlos Gardel—once Argentina’s most famous singer/songwriter. It opens with Gardel’s arrival in Buenos Aires as an infant in his mother’s arms, an immigrant from France. His was a difficult background: a father he never knew, a mother who raised him alone, a stranger in a strange land. All of this came through as heartbreak in Gardel’s songs, tales of darkness and light to which his listeners could passionately relate. His tango songs of the ‘20s would become classics of the genre. At first, singing in the bars, he would go on to star in his own shows, films, tours, recordings.
With Puerto Rican-born Miguel Ramos in the title role, the show captures the very essence of Gardel’s life, as it proceeds from infancy to early success to later excesses and difficulties, to the plane crash which ends his life. Ramos has an easy style and a mellow voice, which wraps around Gardel’s tunes such as “Cuesta abajo” (“Downhill”) and “El dia que me quieras” (“The Day that You Love Me”) and to other songs of the era as well. He gets strong support from Modesto Lacen’s choreography, from tango dancers Ana Padron and Diego Blanco, and from the ensemble as a whole.
-- Irene Backalenick
Sept. 6, 2006