The three-time Grammy-nominated Tiempo Libre, a group of seven young musicians who left Cuba for freedom in the United States in order to play their music, will play its original music LIVE onstage every night as part of “Cuba Libre,” a new Broadway-scale musical produced by Artists Repertory Theatre which runs October 3 – November 15, 2015 at Portland’s Center for the Performing Arts’ Winningstad Theatre (Portland, OR).
“Cuba Libre” is a bilingual theatre experience – with the majority of the dialogue in English and the music largely in Spanish – written by Cuban American playwright Carlos Lacámara, and inspired by the collective histories of the members of Tiempo Libre.
Backing the production is Tony-nominated producer Susan Dietz (Fela!, Topdog/Underdog, It’s Only a Play) . Leading the creative team is the multiple award-winning director Dámaso Rodriguez, who is the artistic director at Artists Repertory Theatre, as well as Cuban-American choreographer Maija Garcia (Fela!, ChiRaq film with Spike Lee, 2016), and Cuban American actor, singer, performer Janet Dacal (Drama Desk Award-winner for In the Heights). Scenic design is by Christopher Acebo who is the associate artistic director of Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF). A 21-person ensemble of actors, dancers, singers and musicians perform the multi-ethnic, multi-disciplinary show which centers around a Cuban musician making a new life for himself as an American while he is still haunted by the sacrifices made to pursue his artistic dreams in the U.S.
Due to robust advance ticket sales, Artists Rep added a full week of performances (original show dates were through November 8), as well as additional shows within the originally announced run. The official Opening Night of “Cuba Libre” is on October 10. Previews started Saturday, October 3.
Director Dámaso Rodriguez Cuba Libresaid, “Cuba Libre is a dream many years in the making. When I was invited by Tiempo Libre and producer Susan Dietz to join this project over three years ago, we did not have a script or even a story. Our collective intention, however, was crystal clear: create a bold, bilingual musical theatre experience that would introduce Tiempo Libre’s exhilarating brand of Afro-Caribbean music (known as “timba”) to a wider audience while telling a universally resonant story of modern-day Cuban life and capturing some of the complexity of the immigrant experience. Despite our hopes, we could not have predicted that a team of such inspired collaborators as playwright Carlos Lacámara and choreographer Maija Garcia would join this project, nor could we have predicted that a surprising, still-developing chapter in the history of Cuba’s relation to America would begin before Cuba Libre’s premiere.”
Internationally renowned for their critically acclaimed Latin-fused music which has been described by The New York Times as “dance music of sophistication and abandon,” Tiempo Libre are seven classically-trained musicians who first met as teenagers studying music in Havana. Individually, each member fled Cuba for freedom, and upon reuniting in the Miami got together during their “free time” (“tiempo libre” in Spanish) from recording with other artists to perform the Cuban music that they loved.
Today, the band is celebrated for its sophisticated tropical music featuring an irresistible, exhilarating, dance-inducing mix of jazz harmonies, contemporary sonorities and seductive Latin rhythms. Throughout the past 14 years, the band has performed around the globe and been featured on television shows including The Tonight Show, Live from Lincoln Center and Dancing with the Stars as well as programs on Univision and Telemundo.
It looks like some dreams do come true.