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Luis Bravo's "Forever Tango" Returns to Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre
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Luis Bravo's "Forever Tango" Returns to Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre

- Backstage with the Playwrights: Classical and Cultural Connections

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Luis Bravo Productions and Jujamcyn Theaters
Presents:
Luis Bravo’s
Forever Tango
(Show Website)

At the
Walter Kerr Theatre
219 West 48th Street
NY, NY
212.239.6200

(Performances until September 15, 2013)

Special Guest Stars:
Gilberto Santa Rosa
And
Karina Smirnoff & Maksim Chmerkovskiy

Orchestra Director: Víctor Lavallén
Arrangements & Orchestrations: Lisandro Adrover

Dancers:
Victoria Galoto & Juan Pablo Horvath
Marcela Duran & Gaspar Godoy
Belén Bartólomé & “Zumo Leguizamón
Florencia Blanco & Hernán Lazart
Natalia Turelli & Ariel Manzanares
Aldana Silveyra & Diego Ortega
Mariana Bojanich & Sebastián Ripoll
Soledad Buss & César Peral

Orchestra: Bandoneóns:
Víctor Lavallén, Carlos Niesi, Jorge Trivisonno, Eduardo Miceli
Violins: Leonardo Ferreyra, José Luis Marina,
Viola: Washington Williman, Cello: Luis Bravo
Bass: Héctor Pineda, Keyboard: Maurizio Najt, Piano: Jorge Vernieri
Created and Directed by Luis Bravo
Choreography by The Dancers

Costume Design: Argemira Affonso
Sound Design: Rolando Obregón
Make-Up Design: Jean Luc Don Vito
Assistant Director: Marcela Duran
Technical Supervision: Hudson Theatrical Associates & Neil Mazzella
Production Manager: Carlos Díaz
Advertising & Marketing: Serino/Coyne
Hispanic Marketing & Press Consultant: Publi-City
Press Representative: O&M Co.
Associate Producer: Christine L. Barcley/CBA
Gen. Management: Frankel Green Theatrical Management/Joe Watson
Executive Producer: Red Awning

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 13, 2013 Matinee


One of the most rapturous and exciting music and dance shows to return to Broadway is Luis Bravo’s Forever Tango. This Argentine tango extravaganza showcases talent that illustrates the crème de la crème of this most sensual and emotional dance. The music is at once hypnotically transcending, and the Orchestra today was infused with four bandoneóns, with each of the bandoneónists a master of the genre. The bandoneón is the heart and soul of the music, and these masters filled the theater with spellbinding magic. The orchestra was highlighted in numerous instrumental tangos, with no vocals or dance onstage. I wish more shows could be so celebratory of the orchestra. Literal spotlights shone on the bandoneón, cello, or piano. The sumptuous tangos were also enhanced by violins, viola, bass, and keyboard. The Director of the Orchestra was Victor Lavallén, bandoneónist, who sometimes raised his knee, with a cloth covering, to rest his bandoneón and create the quintessential melodies. It was clear that these eleven aficionados are seasoned accompanists to tango milongas (social dance), as well as to tango performances. In fact, Maurizio Najt, the show’s keyboard artist, is a practiced piano accompanist in the New York tango scene.

As a former tanguera (female tango dancer), who used to dance tango several times each week for several years, I experienced the showcased exhibition style of tango that was on view tonight. When visiting tango stars or master teachers are in town, they are invited to perform at milongas. Tangueros dance in various styles of slow, fast (milonga), or waltz-like (vals), but exhibition tango is wild, wanton, erotic, athletic, propulsive, and dramatic, and that’s mainly what was presented tonight, although the Argentine couples dancing more mainstream tango kept their feet mostly on the floor, men in black suits and women in black dresses. The genre of tango began in the brothels, and “El Suburbio” introduced six of the Company’s eight couples, with an homage to tango in the brothels. There was the usual male fight of pride, two tightly wound tangueros, dancing in circles, holding the other’s shoulders. There was the head of the establishment breaking it up, here Sebastián Ripoll. Men wore fedoras and suits. Women wore wigs and garters. There were many “ganchos” (leg hooks), and heated hauteur. But, more importantly, the audience was introduced to the magnificent Argentine talent that Luis Bravo has assembled.

Gilberto Santa Rosa, known as “The Gentleman of Salsa”, sang periodic solos, during the non-dance, non-all-instrumental interludes, and my favorite was his rendition of “El Día Que Me Quieras”, made famous by Carlos Gardel, the song’s composer. Mr. Santa Rosa sings with a deep whisper or powerful clarity, always in command of his adoring fans. Although he’s a Salsa specialist, he sang the tangos with the requisite nuance of yearning and longing. Each song was emblematic of romanticism. By bringing in a renowned Salsa vocalist, the Producers are ensured of a wide audience throughout the run.

In addition to Mr. Santa Rosa (and Luis Enrique, the star vocalist, who will join the cast when Mr. Santa Rosa leaves), the dazzling Karina Smirnoff and Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who were previously reviewed on this column in Burn the Floor (2009), danced several exciting duos, especially exciting for the audience, as these veterans from television’s “Dancing with the Stars” have had a very public, on-again, off-again, real-life romance. Their heated dancing today was vocally moving for their fans in the crowd. It should be noted that today’s matinee preview seemed sold-out, with the show opening tomorrow night. Although the Chmerkovskiy and Smirnoff tango duos were mostly steamy, Maksim had a habit of occasionally trivializing the moment by grabbing attention with extra wiggling, flicking his shoulder, sending flirting gestures to the women in the crowd, and so on. I found this more than distracting. Karina, on the other hand, was all attitude, never out of character. Maksim’s hamming it up, so to speak, doesn’t belong on any tango floor, on or off-stage. The Tango is an aesthetic genre, with inherent angst and malaise, unless it’s a happy, frivolous tune, danced as a “milonga”. Their finest moment was in “Romance entre el Dolor y mi Alma”, with both performers creating memorable imagery, like Ms. Smirnoff encircling Mr. Chmerkovskiy’s neck, torso, and legs, in snakelike motion, then being tossed about.

Diego Ortega and Aldana Silveyra performed to the music of one of the most gorgeous tangos ever composed, “Prepárense”, by Astor Piazzolla. One major fault of the Forever Tango written program was the missing credits for composers and lyricists. Music credit should always be noted for each song, even if just for the homage. The dancing for this piece, as for each tango, was momentous and mesmerizing. “La Mariposa”, by Pedro Maffia, danced by Sebastián Ripoll and Mariana Bojanich, drew the audience in with its slow, impassioned aura. Natalia Turelli and Ariel Manzanares were the true comics in the cast, dancing in camp, vaudevillian motifs. “Zumo” Leguizamón and Belén Bartolomé danced “Derecho Viejo”, by Francini-Pontier. This piece, with sumptuous strings and steady bandoneón, is captivating, and the duo magnified its theatrics. Soledad Buss and Cesar Peral performed “Soledad” (no composer credit found). Ms. Buss wore a transparent costume, a black lace unitard, and Mr. Peral appeared mid-dance in casual black This piece was a stunning display of virtuosic skill, although not tango. But, still, it exuded the dynamism of scintillating, tango exhibition dance.

“La Beba”, by Osvaldo Pugliese, was danced by Hernán Lazart and Florencia Blanco, with searing gusto. Victoria Galoto and Juan Paulo Horvath danced “Romance del Bandoneón y La Noche” (no composer credit), with their incredibly talented feet and bravura technique. Marcela Durán and Gaspar Godoy danced “A Mis Viejos”, by Osvaldo Berlingieri, with so much chemistry that they could have led this show without the stars. Mr. Godoy pulls Ms. Duran, so that her entire body extends, strapped heels way behind her. They kiss, she leans back against his torso, he pursues her, she shudders, she looks away, he looks down, they rush together, all in the moment of musical magic. This was truly a highlight of the afternoon, and I did not want it to end. The finale was a mix of tango, salsa, vocals, and orchestra. Kudos to Luis Bravo for his newest incarnation of this Broadway favorite. Rush to the Walter Kerr Theatre for your tickets now, as the show will end September 15.



Gilberto Santa Rosa and
the cast of "Forever Tango"
Courtesy of Walter McBride



Juan Paulo Horvath and Victoria Galoto
in "Forever Tango"
Courtesy of "Forever Tango"



Karina Smirnoff and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
and the cast of "Forever Tango"
Courtesy of Walter McBride



Karina Smirnoff and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
in "Forever Tango"
Courtesy of "Forever Tango"


For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net