The international theater circuit is about to be dusted with a whole lot of azúcar very soon. As Billboard reports, the unforgettable Guarachera de Cuba Celia Cruz is getting her own musical, which tells her story from her poor upbringings up until her last show before her passing in 2003, which will be recreated on stage. Celia: The Musical is premiering on August 18 during the Starlite Festival in Marbella, Spain, after being previewed in Miami late last year.
The Queen of Salsa’s life has already been told onstage in the 2007 Off-Broadway musical Celia: The Life and Music of Celia Cruz, starring Xiomara Laugart. Telemundo’s 2015 novela Celia also immortalized the life of the salsa legend. But the Afro-Latina icon’s former manager and executor of her estate, Omer Pardillo-Cid, was unimpressed with these portrayals, and decided to take on the task of telling her story accurately in Celia: The Musical.
Pardillo-Cid tapped Gonzalo Rodríguez and Jeffry Bautista to direct and write the production, and a live orchestra led by Braily Ramos will play some of the unforgettable pieces from Cruz’s catalog, like “La Vida es un Carnaval” and “La Negra Tiene Tumbao.” The main role is split between Yohanna Valladares and Virna Varona (young and old Celia, respectively,) but it’s the Barcelona-based Cuban artist Lucrecia who leads the cast, which includes over 30 members. In the play, she is expected to have 18 costume and wig changes, based on Cruz’s signature designs.
From her beginnings on Cuban radio to her highs and lows in exile, Celia: The Musical is set to be a mostly unaltered depiction of the singer’s life. “In one of [the musical’s] most emotional scenes, Celia confesses her frustration of having never become a mother,” Pardillo-Cid told El Nuevo Herald back in December. “And in another one, she says goodbye to Pedro [Knight, Celia’s husband], knowing he was in his final minutes.”
Pardillo-Cid is also working on turning a Miami warehouse into a private Celia Cruz museum, which will be filled with clothing, awards, photos, posters, and more original memorabilia, according to Billboard.
After its August 18 premiere in Spain, El Nuevo Herald reports that Celia: The Musical is set to tour a string of Latin American cities later this year.