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Home Culture Antonio Banderas rescues the romantic comedy in his new musical | Culture

Antonio Banderas rescues the romantic comedy in his new musical | Culture

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A ‘Playing our song’ moment.Javier Salas

Antonio Banderas’ goal is to remain an international star to get money and invest it doing theater. His third musical, Playing our song, premiered on Thursday night at his Soho Caixabank theater in Malaga, it has established him as a producer and director. He has achieved it with Playing our song, a show inspired by that glorious moment that the American romantic comedy lived in the 70s, tender, funny, witty and full of simplicity. For now he continues to focus on New York classics, but among his fairly immediate projects are opera, zarzuela, some Spanish baroque classics…

Playing our song is a show with a book by Neil Simon, music by Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager. Simple, tender, ironic, funny, fresh, “we have to revisit these comedies, we live in a world so complicated and violent that theater is very beautiful and makes us recognize ourselves as human beings capable of love,” says Banderas. “Life is very hard, people have to go out and go to bed to love each other,” says the director of this piece with eight characters, an orchestra of ten teachers and a story that revolves around a couple (who perform in state of grace the actors and singers María Adamuz and Miquel Fernández). A pair of stage beasts that moved and excited the audience that packed the Soho theater on opening night. In fact, Banderas goes beyond admiration for Fernández, without forgetting that he acquired this romantic comedy to make it himself, but along the way he crossed paths Gypsy, his next project, which he will begin rehearsing shortly, and he had to “give” his character to the Catalan actor: “It’s amazing to have discovered Miquel. He makes me so, so envious, that I think he should hit him; He couldn’t be more good and have that voice with which he envelops an entire audience.”

On this occasion, in Alejandro Andújar’s scenography he has resorted to a type of wooden monoliths that he calls totems, on which he generates spectacular and beautiful different spaces, lights (by Juan Gómez-Cornejo and Carlos Torrijos), new realities, all as a comic, or as a children’s construction game: “We would like them to be the mills of the Quixote“I try not to let technology dominate, in fact I try to dominate it and in the next show it will be even more marked,” says Banderas, to which the fact of never stopping and sleeping three or four hours a day is added to the know how to never say no. “A great American creator already told me: the most important word is no. And he added: yes makes you cheaper. But I still don’t know how to say no.”

In 1985, at the age of 23, Banderas participated in his first musical in the brilliant and hilarious film Pharaoh’s court, by José Luis García Sánchez, based on the zarzuela by Vicente Lleó. The role of the beardless and shy chaste José suited him better than with his face as a naive good-natured boy and, of course, a virgin. That was his first intervention in a musical. Furthermore, he is one of those who think, like many connoisseurs of the lyrical world, that the zarzuela genre is the birth of musical theater as we understand it today, regardless of its evolution and characteristics.

“In the zarzuela there are the prolegomena of our musical theater, but it is mistakenly associated with a conservative, shabby Spain. What a mistake!” says Banderas. “I would love to do Bohemians and I have considered doing zarzuela, but we have to find the vehicle to put it together today, it needs a large orchestra and we have to play with several elements to not lose the trick.”

Fernández, Banderas and Adamuz, in a promotional image.
Fernández, Banderas and Adamuz, in a promotional image.GUILLE ALONE

From his experience with the zarzuelera he remembers in a special way the actors he worked with: “I have never met such a complete cast again… having worked with that lineage meant a lot to me. “I have met great international actors, but none has impressed me as much as Fernando Fernán Gómez.” He maintains a few seconds of silence and begins to mention his other companions and gestures as if he were talking about saints to whom he has devotion: “Ana Belén, Agustín González, José Luis López Vázquez, Mary Carmen Ramírez, Juan Diego, María Luisa Ponte, Luis Ciges, Antonio Gamero, Guillermo Marín, Josema Yuste, Millán Salcedo… When has something like this been seen!” he exclaims.

Over time he intervened, although little, in different musical projects, but the seed that was inoculated in his blood after seeing, as a teenager, Jesus Christ Superstar y Hair, He has grown to the point that he does not hide, nor does he want to, that his thing with musicals is an addiction. “More than with musicals, with music, and always. I am an opera lover, and I have not accepted proposals out of fear (Daniel Baremboim proposed Don Carlo y Carmen), but maybe I’ll just go for it.” Since he doesn’t have enough of everything, now he is crazy about starting a jazz club, another old dream.

After a heart attack suffered in 2017, he reflected on what it means to live and why. She concluded that three things were important and everything else mattered little. “My daughter, my friends and the theater, and I haven’t moved from there.” At the end of that year she had already bought a theater, the Soho Caixabank, in Malaga, a city without any tradition of musical theater. And linked to that theater he will be beyond life: “I am clear that when I die I am going to become the ghost of the theater and I will wander around Soho to screw up and scare the staff,” he laughs. Many people told him that he was going to crash after going bankrupt – or the other way around – but he launched himself, defying the risk, the vertigo, the fear, the funk. And now he has released his third production.

Another moment from the musical.
Another moment from the musical.JAVIER SALAS

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