By Cynthia Lawrence
What do you get when you cross the Bizet opera classic with a Hamilton-style makeover, set in 1950’s Cuba? You get the sizzling, sexy and sassy adaptation of Carmen La Cubana.
From the minute you sit down, the opening scenes sets the backdrop for what would be a ‘Havana night’ of salsa, opera, mambo, rumba and cha-cha-cha.
Created by British director Christopher Renshaw, the musical is set during the political turmoil of the Cuban Revolution in 1958 against Batista’s government.
Carmen is the leading lady in red, working as a cigar maker in a factory when a military unit led by Sergeant Moreno, takes up post there. Known for her beauty and sex appeal, she captivates any man she meets which is reflected in the risqué dialogue and sultry performances.
The musical is completely in Spanish, with the aid of subtitles on large screens, but just like watching any foreign production, you soon forget and immerse yourself in the fast-paced narrative.
Sassy Carmen meets soldier Jose, who is engaged to the sweet and virginal Miralu, and he is reluctant to fall for the siren’s charms. When Carmen is arrested for causing disruption, José is ordered to take her but lets her go with the promise of a night of passion – as a result he is arrested by Sergeant Moreno. During a dispute and subsequent fight, Jose kills Sergeant Moreno and the pair flee to Havana. But when Carmen becomes infatuated with a famous Cuban boxer, El Niño, this consequently leads to a tragic end.
The musical takes the audience on an emotional rollercoaster. High from the political tensions, love, music, and humour to the climatic lows of heartbreak and tragedy. The all-Cuban cast deliver a beautiful musical score and effortless dance routines. The rhythmic percussion, folklore and traditional attire, leaves you with a taste of Cuba.
Carmen La Cubana is definitely a must-see!