Help us to make a demo recording of CUBAMOR, and produce the latest draft as a reading in New York on September 10th, 2012 at New York Live Arts, with an amazingly talented cast!
CUBAMOR was written as a graduate thesis project at the NYU-Tisch Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program, and had its first 29-hour Actor’s Equity reading there in May of 2011. The summer before, in 2010, we were fortunate to receive support for the project from the Frank H. and Eva B. Buck Foundation and the NYU Office of Globalization, which allowed us to travel to Havana for ten days of firsthand research.
The “Elevator Pitch”:
Set in present day Havana, CUBAMOR is the story of two couples who fall in love despite differences in culture, socio-political ideology, and belief.
Lazaro, a brash young drummer and rapper, and Zoe, a practical political science major, are both American graduate students who travel to Cuba on a summer goodwill tour for their university. They meet and befriend Maria, an ex-dancer for Ballet Nacional de Cuba, and Renato, a street musician who dreams of escaping to Miami but has to hustle on the side to make ends meet.
Lazaro is instantly taken with Maria, but the boisterous American can’t seem to get through her defenses. Zoe is intrigued by street-savvy Renato, but is scared of where things might lead. All four find themselves at a crossroads in their lives.
They are guided by the spiritual forces of the island, including Oshun, the Orisha (Goddess) of Love, and Elegua, the Keeper of the Crossroads. The four lovers ultimately have to confront their fears, and face the truth about their real feelings about what the future might hold.
Why "just" a reading?
Developing a new musical takes an incredible amount of time and resources. Before we try and send CUBAMOR out into the world, we really need to make sure that it’s the best that it can be. A reading like this gives us the chance to hone the script and music, with some of the industry’s top professionals here in New York.
It really does take getting everyone in the same room together so you can hear the story that's on the page, before it goes to the stage. So a reading is just the first step of many in developing a new show.
By getting involved at this early stage, you can be a part of the CUBAMOR family from the very beginning – and we welcome your involvement, passion and feedback along the way!
So, what's a "demo recording" for, anyway?
A demo recording is used to give people an idea of the music of the show. It's not usually a fully produced album, but it's enough to help us be able to pitch the show to interested producers, theaters and potential investors. Once our actors from the reading know the show, it makes sense to get them into a studio to record it. And the more we have recorded of the show, the better a pitch we can make.
More about making a demo:
Based on the independent film Cubamor by the talented filmmaker Joshua Bee Alafia, several significant changes from the movie have been made, including focusing primarily on the two American/Cuban couples.
As a composer, Vince strove to utilize the various musical languages of Cuba including Son (like in Buena Vista Social Club), Rhumba, and Salsa as a starting point for the score. We then incorporated Hip-Hop, R&B and pop/musical theater in an effort to blend contemporary American and Cuban musical idioms to best tell our story.
Since the story at its heart is about challenging the stereotypes that Americans and Cubans have of each other, we felt it was only appropriate to use these musical languages to support the journey each character undertakes.
As a writer, James rooted the story in today’s Cuba – not the stereotyped and idealized Cuba of the 1950’s, Carmen Miranda or Guys and Dolls, but rather the post-Mariel, third generation of Cuba that has lived under the embargo, and is on the brink of massive change.
For both of us, this crossroads of change and the two love stories at the center of CUBAMOR serve as a greater metaphor about our two cultures.
"This Is Not A Love Song" - Renato's song to Zoe - featuring Nik Walker:
We have also been influenced by native Cuban authors such as Leonardo Padura, whose novels including 'Havana Fever' and 'Havana Black' are highly stylized but unequivocal descriptions of inner-city urban life in Havana. All these factors have had a profound influence on how we wish to portray contemporary Cuba.
This is also reflected by the structure of the piece itself, which mirrors a traditional Lukumi or Santeria ceremony where an initiate is brought deeper into their own internal realm in order for spiritual growth to occur. This is also similar to Joseph Campbell’s "Hero’s Journey", and of course inspired by such great dramatic works as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Into the Woods and even South Pacific.
We strongly feel that the interplay of music and dance is a huge part of this story, and of life in Cuba. In other words – this is a dance show. And it eventually will have lots (and we mean lots) of dancing. But for now, we need to make sure the other two sides of the triangle that make a musical - words and music - are solid before we bring in a brilliant choreographer to take it all to the next level.
It's not our intention to soapbox for a political agenda with this piece – we wish to explore genuine human journeys and emotions that happen to be in a unique geo-political time and place.
Our sincere hope is that folks seeing (and hearing about) this reading will be interested in helping support CUBAMOR in an eventual full incarnation.
Muchas gracias, and we look forward to you being a part of the journey of CUBAMOR!
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For more info, pictures and behind the scenes video about CUBAMOR visit: www.cubamorthemusical.com
And special thanks to everyone who has helped and been a part of the journey so far!
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