Reviews · Theatre Reviews

Theatre Review: La Cancion Represents Latin Culture At Harlem Stage

SYNOPSIS: “La Cancion The Musical,” is a humorous and refreshing Spanish-language musical that follows a young man from The Bronx with a passion for music. In this new musical, Rafa tells his story through an amalgam of musical genres from Rap to tropical tunes like Salsa, Merengue and Bachata.

FINALLY!!!!!!! A musical with Latin Music! While I adore In The Heights hearing some merenguito and salsa in spanish is always a delight. Candido Tirado’s La Canción is unabashedly about and for latin culture: no fusions . Instead, La Canción thrives on being a welcome to life as a Latino in the U.S. For a night, El Repertorio Español and Harlem Stage united to bring people into another world: our world. 

I am prouda Latina, and I think our people are funny, warm, and unbelievably creative, of which La Canción displays proudly. Toly Rod as Rafa is the epicenter of the show, and will give you echoes of a young Lin Manuel Miranda. His excitement to be on the stage makes you giddy every time he is on it. He gives Rafa a brightness and sweet nobility that makes this, otherwise, young man appear like a knight watching over his kingdom: The Bronx. In that, Zulema Clares is The Queen as Abuela.

Every Latin family home is run by its elders, particularly, grandmothers. Clares’ Abuela is strong, loving, and helps you understand her protectiveness over Rafa. He is a good kid eager to embrace life, but, like every elder, she knows life does not always embrace you back. Any scene between her and Rafa will leave everyone deeply moved as both actors truly convey a grandmother and grandson relationship. Yet, humor splashes across characters like, Mario Mattei’s Poco Loco, who makes you eagerly await his re-entrance for some hilarious, philosophical rant. Also Diana Pou’s Angie, Rafa’s girlfriend, does not hold back in showing how strong Latinas are in wit and compassion. She, too, balances our culture’s lines of unlimitedly supporting our loved ones, but also checking their delusions.

Directed by Edward Torres and Nelson Jaime, La Canción is one of the most heartwarming and fun musicals, I have seen recently. It is fresh and infectiously rhythmic; keeping you dancing in your seat, at all times. Carlos Neto has choreographed a show that makes you want to take Latin Dance classes (lol!). While my mother is a Latin Dancer, i walked out of the musical feeling like I needed to join a dance troupe, immediately. The splashes of Reggaeton, Salsa, and even Bachata make you appreciate that Latinos are a people moved body and soul. Moreover, Vico C’s music is phenomenal. He truly captured the urban nature of modern Latin Music, but throws homage to its classic roots, particularly, through the role of Francis Mateo’s Rafael.

Mateo’s Rafael, next to Rafa, is the character that most grows from beginning to the end of La Canción. In one hour and forty minutes, he transforms from cold and distant to as warm and loving as Rafa, which makes sense once you see the show. This is a non-spoiler review. Yet, I do hope you give yourself the chance to see La Canción. Beyond being a positive and loving homage to Latin Culture, it is also a show about believing in yourself, even when your family or the world cannot see your vision.

Dreaming is an intimate, private experience, but the journey to make it reality is shared. Thus, as you watch Rafa share his dreams into fruition, you admire and learn from his capacity to always say yes to himself even when the world says no; something the Latin community understands very well. For More Information on La Canción And Repertorio Español Click Here. 

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