Argentina's thrilling tango show explodes onto the Toronto stage
Presented by BASE Entertainment
Directed and co-choreography by Sergio Trujillo
Book by John Weidman
If you think you know tango, think again.
The stage at Toronto’s Panasonic Theatre has been transformed into a tango bar featuring both seasoned tango dancers and audience members learning new steps. This is the interactive pre-show before the curtain is raised for Arrabal, a new political dance musical now playing at the Panasonic Thetare. Based on a true story, Arrabal is sexy and dramatic, reinventing tango for a new generation.
The production opens with a bang to the music of Gustavo Santaolalla’s band Bajofondo, who transport the audience back to the dark days of Argentina’s Dirty War, which took place between 1976 and 1983 and saw the arrest and disappearance of thousands of dissidents. The use of multimedia, specifically video clips and photos, on the back wall of the stage is extremely effective in providing a short synopsis to an audience who may not know the events that transpired.
The year is 1979, and a young man with passion in his eyes (Julio Zurita) leaves his baby and his mother (Marianella) behind to join a group of like-minded youth, who are later discovered by the police. The man’s luck has run out and he is punished in an emotionally charged scene that leaves the audience wondering what happened to the family he left behind. This opening scene is gripping and tragic and sets the production on an electrifying track.
Since no words are spoken in Arrabal, the entire story is told through mesmerizing tango dancing and gritty, pulsating Argentinian music played by the band. Arrabal herself (played beautifully by Micaela Spina) is the daughter of the passionate young man from the production’s opening scene, which is clear by the picture of him she keeps next to her bed. Young Arrabal spends time in the tango clubs of Buenos Aires and ends up becoming part of the underground world, a dangerous one which she is not at all prepared for. In this world, she meets El Puma (Carlos Rivarola) and Berta (Veronica Alvarenga) who knew her father and eventually tell her how his arrest and murder transpired years earlier.
The story’s heroine is the centerpiece of the production, but the supporting cast is truly amazing to watch. The love story that blossoms between Arrabal and Juan (Juan Cupini) is rich in chemistry and passion, and they express their feelings through a type of tango dancing that is not like anything the audience will have seen before.
Arrabal is a highly political, unique dance musical featuring beautiful dance sequences and unforgettable music. Audiences will be mesmerized by the choreography while also learning about Argentina’s dark history. Don’t miss this production, on stage until April 20 at the Panasonic Theatre. Visit mirvish.com for more information and to buy tickets.