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"Celia", Revisited in Spanish, at New World Stages
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"Celia", Revisited in Spanish, at New World Stages

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Celia Revisited in Spanish:
Henry Cardenas & David Maldonado
“The Life and Music of Celia Cruz”

Book by Carmen Rivera & Candido Tirado
Directed by Jaime Azpilicueta
New World Stages
(Theater Website)

Starring: Xiomara Laugart as Celia Cruz
Featuring: Modesto Lacén, Pedro Capó, Selenis Leyva,
Sunilda Caraballo, Grizel “Chachi” Del Valle, Anissa Gathers,
Sekou McMiller, Wilson Mendieta, Elvis Nolasco

Scenic Design: Narelle Sissons
Lighting Design: Sarah Sidman
Costume Design: Haydée Morales
Production Design: Jan Hartley
Production Stage Manager: Elis C. Arroyo
Sound Design: Bernard Fox
Hair & Makeup Design: Ruth Sanchez
Casting: Orpheus Group Casting
Production Manager: Peter Dean
Associate Producer: Gerry Fojo
Executive Producer: Daddy Yankee
Company Manager: Michael Heitzler
Publicity: O&M
General Manager: Cesa Entertainment, Inc.
Musical Director: Isidro Infante
Choreography/Production Supervision: Maria Torres
Dance Captain: Wilson Mendieta
Piano: Isidro Infante
Bass: Diomedes Matos
Timbal and Percussion: Anderson Quintero
Congas and Percussion: Carlos Padron
Trés and Bongos: Nelson Gonzalez
Trumpet and Keyboards: Nelson Jaime, Raul Agraz

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 10, 2008

(Read the Complete January 15, 2008 Celia Review)
(Read Celia Cruz Bio)

On revisiting this incredibly entertaining and energetic musical drama, about the life of the Salsa queen, Celia Cruz, I chose one of the Spanish language nights, in order to maximize the ambiance. My guest spoke native Spanish and really appreciated hearing the dialogue with all the idiomatic phrasing and nuance. Since I knew the story from my previous visit, and since the songs are always in Spanish, this was a truly enjoyable experience. Xiomara Laugart still sings with gusto and gyration, and her band seems to love its new-found fame, as this musical fast earns iconic status. Modesto Lacén, as Pedro Knight, Celia’s faithful and adoring husband, who narrates much of the story in age-changes over decades, is even more charming and natural in the Spanish version. I could tell there were extra jokes (that I did not understand), but I was thrilled that the audience was so vocally enthused. Of course, to enhance that enthusiasm, Sangria punch is sold in the aisles at every opportunity.

Selenis Leyva, as the dramatic version of Celia Cruz, seemed even more dramatic this time, delivering her dialogue with passion and expression. Pedro Capó, as Pedro Knight’s nurse, was also a singer/dancer, exploding with musicality and rhythm. The ensemble danced Salsa and Broadway styled numbers with Latin infused motion and sexy sensuality. Isidro Infante, Musical Director, is obviously a pro. Carmen Rivera and Candido Tirado, who wrote the book, should keep these plays coming. Celia has such a level of pathos and charm, mixed with hot Latin pulsation, that one could not tire of seeing it in either English or Spanish on visit after visit. Kudos to the playwrights, and kudos to the cast and Jaime Azpilicueta, the Director. Kudos to Celia Cruz.

Xiomara Laugart as Celia Cruz
Courtesy of Erika Rojas

Xiomara Laugart and Modesto Lacén as Pedro Knight
Courtesy of Erika Rojasr

Xiomara Laugart and Pedro Capó
Courtesy of Erika Rojas

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