One of Cuba’s patron saints is getting the small screen treatment yet again. After Telemundo’s novela take on Cruz’s story, Celia, now English-speaking audiences can watch a different side of the singer’s life. Kenny Ortega of High School Musical and Dirty Dancing fame will serve as one of the series’ executive producers and directors.
So far, the series will be based largely on Cruz’s own words in her autobiography, Celia: My Life, and through 500 hours of taped interviews she made for the Smithsonian before her death in 2003. It likely won’t be as long as the Telemundo telenovela adaptation of her life story, which covered the majority of Celia’s evolution from humble singer to legendary songstress and one of the most prominent voices of the Cuban-American diaspora. From the sounds of these initial plans, the series will similarly trace Cruz’s journey from Cuba through Mexico before becoming a multi-Grammy winning artists. Count on the return of many sparkly costumes, big blue wigs and her signature catch phrase Azucar! I, for one, am extremely excited for any and all Fania All-Star stories.
“I had the extraordinary honor of working with Celia Cruz many years ago as a burgeoning choreographer on a little movie called Salsa,” Ortega said in the press release for the new show. “While we were working together, Celia and her husband invited me to join them for her concert at the Hollywood Palladium. Celia seated me in a chair on stage and I was there, in the light, watching La Reina de la Salsa, hypnotizing the audience with her voice and performance magic. Over the years, my appreciation of her gift to music has grown and deepened. Celia has been an inspiration for so many and I am honored to participate in this tribute of the incomparable Celia Cruz.” If you’re interested in that Salsa movie Ortega mentioned, it’s available to stream on Hulu. It’s not very good, but it is filled with a number salsa legends like Cruz.
Ortega seems to have a lot of love and respect for La Reina. Joining him behind the camera is Flavio Morales, Executive Vice President of Endemol Shine Latino with another production partner in Major TV. We hope the creative team behind the show will do her proud story justice.