By Ernio Hernandez
27 Jun 2005
"We are deeply grateful for the amazing dedication and remarkable spirit of the entire cast, crew and creative team of The Mambo Kings," said Daryl and Jordan Roth. "While we had pursued several incredibly talented people to join the team and help us realize the full potential of the show, it became apparent to us all that the production could not successfully go forward on the current schedule."
The stage version of Oscar Hijuelos' Pulitzer Prize-winning novel made its world premiere at San Francisco's Golden Gate Theatre, opening May 31 to lackluster reviews. The work was next slated for a berth at the Broadway Theatre, starting previews July 20 and opening Aug. 18.
Speculation in the theatrical community in recent weeks had Tommy Tune and Maury Yeston as possible show doctors with names like Jerry Mitchell, Jason Robert Brown and David Ives also being bandied about. Production spokespersons did not confirm any change in the creative team.
Based on the Hijuelos' "The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love," the musical follows the same story of two Cuban brothers who travel to New York City in 1949 with dreams of becoming recording stars. The Latin siblings — flashy, guitarist Cesar and his shy, trumpet-playing brother Nestor — rise to fame from the dance halls to perform as Desi Arnaz's cousins on "I Love Lucy."
Bad luck befell the production two weeks prior to its California debut when previously announced star Billy Dee Williams left the production "due to an aggravated hip condition," a release stated. Williams was to play nightclub impresario Fernando Perez, a role that went to David Alan Grier (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum).
"NYPD Blue" star Esai Morales and Mexican-born actor-singer Jamie Camil star as the title brothers with "Six Feet Under" actress Justina Machado as Dolores' sister Ana Maria, Grammy Award-winning Cuban music star Albita as singer Evalina Montoya, Dennis Staroselsky (The Rivals - Huntington) as Bernadito, Cote de Pablo ("The Jury") as Nestor's wife Dolores and Jekyll & Hyde's Christiane Noll as Miss Mambo, Vanna Vane.
Other featured players include Natalia Zisa (as Maria Flores), Allen Hidalgo (Luis, Emcee and Desi), Robert Montano (Pablo), Monica Salazar (Blanca) Cathy Trien (Aunt Celia), Natalie Cortez (Chi Chi), Ivan Hernandez (Roberto, Izzy and Mike Wells), Kay Walbye (Mrs. Shannon), Jeffrey Schecter (Manny), Warren Adams (Johnny Cassanova), Raymond Rodriguez (Rico), Liz Ramos (Beauty) and Luis Salgado (Frankie Suarez).
The ensemble also included Joey Dowling, James Harkness, Ruthie Inchaustegui, Michelle Marmolejo, Carlos Sierra Lopez, Marcos Santana with swings Roxane Carrasco, Tony Falcon, Iresol Cardona and Michael Fielder.
The design team for The Mambo Kings features Riccardo Hernandez (sets), Ann Roth (costumes), Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer (lighting) and Acme Sound Partners (sound). Musical direction will be handled by Constantine Kitsopoulos.
The songlist includes "Overture," "Theatre of Dreams," "Here to Stay," "Mambo, Rhumba, Cha Cha Cha," "Ran Kan Kan," "El Cumbanchero," "Te Amo," "A New Bolero," "Dreams Come True," "Mambo Caliente," "Can’t Live Without My Love," "Guantanamera," "Can’t Live Without My Love (reprise)," "Entr’acte/ The Quartet," "Beautiful Maria of My Soul," "Fame," "Fame (reprise)," "Out on My Own," "Mambo, Rhumba, Cha Cha Cha (reprise)," "Sign! Sign! Sign!," "I Bring You Books," "Alone in the Dark," "Mambo # 5," "Accidental Mambo," "Lit by Love," "Dreams Come True (reprise)," "Beautiful Maria of My Soul (reprise)" and "Mambo, Mi Gente."
Daryl Roth and Jordan Roth produce The Mambo Kings which capitalized at $12 million. The New York Post speculated that the cost of the new creative team and a possible delay of start would have bumped up the cost to $15 million.
The staging would have marked the first Broadway collaboration between the mother and son producing team of Daryl and Jordan Roth. Daryl Roth is currently represented on Broadway by Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Other credits include Caroline, or Change, Anna in the Tropics and The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? Jordan Roth has produced The Rocky Horror Show on Broadway as well as The Donkey Show Off-Broadway.