Miami, .- Pedro Navaja, the “thug corner” of the famous song of Ruben Blades, sings and dances in Miami with more than twenty other characters in a musical that saw the light in Puerto Rico in the 80s and that keeps its appeal and its message intact.
Under the direction of the Puerto Rican Edgar García, the company Prometeo Theater, Miami Dade College, will staging on April 5 at the Koubek Center “The true story of Pedro Navaja”, a work created by the playwright and Puerto Rican director Pablo Cabrera, with music by Pedro Rivera Toledo.
This musical, which became a popular phenomenon in Puerto Rico, passed through Venezuela and other countries and landed on Broadway with great success. It has not been performed for 15 years, says Efe García, who has assembled an international cast. Cuban-Venezuelan actress Beatriz Valdez, starring in films such as “La Bella de la Alhambra” and “Azul y no tan Rosa” (Goya Award).
Valdez incarnates Diana “la maromera”, the prostitute who kills Pedro Navaja with a gunshot wound after he wounded her with a dagger, a character he already represented many years ago in Miami, together with the salsa artist Gilberto Santa Rosa as the “Corner bully”.
The Pedro Navaja of this musical is Manolo Ramos, a Puerto Rican singer-songwriter based in Miami who won the International Voice and Song Festival (formerly OTI) and had never worked as an actor before.
Ramos, author of hits like “Déjame” and “Be your friend”, considers his role as “the biggest challenge” he has had in his professional life, according to Efe before a general rehearsal.
Twenty-four actors, singers and dancers, as well as nine musicians, directed by the tresera, Cuban singer and composer Yusa, participate in this staging of the Teatro Prometeo.
Ramos, like Garcia, emphasizes that, in addition to entertaining and putting the audience to dance and sing, “The real story of Pedro Navaja” reflects on very serious problems ranging from the exploitation and trafficking of people to women’s liberation and the manipulation of social reality.
No wonder Cabrera’s inspiration for this work, for which he borrowed the Panamanian Rubén Blades his song, is the so-called “Beggar’s Opera” by John Gay, premiered in London in 1728, of which also the German Bertolt Brecht drank for his “Opera of the three cents” (1928), says Garcia.
The “Beggar’s Opera” caused great controversy in his time because he told a story from the point of view of an antihero, a marginal, something that Cabrera, from the Teatro de los 60 in Puerto Rico, maintained with the character of “El lynx” of the railing “, the narrator of” The real story of Pedro Navaja “.
García has introduced in his staging as a novelty that “The Lynx”, someone who seeks life in the streets with the sale of alcohol or whatever is at hand, and at the same time is a “misunderstood genius”, is a woman.
Karen Martello, a tropical music singer with an “androgynous” personality and a voice of the same tone (contralto) as Marc Anthony, is “El Lynx”, who lives in Calle Ocho de la Pequeña Habana in this staging from Miami and has written a telenovela with music set in Puerto Rico in the 50s.
This work is “a meta-theatrical fantasy (theater within the theater)” with a component of political and social satire and musical numbers with great force like the mambo “cantao and bailao” “Tibiri tabará”, which is the strong number, explains Edgar García.
Another novelty is that the character of the owner of the employment agency who, in Puerto Rico who had just become an associated free state of the United States, was in charge of transferring labor “pal’norte”, is for the first time Spanish and by more Andalusian signs, instead of Puerto Rican as in the original.
The Spanish actor and dancer Pedro Rodríguez, who arrived in Miami four years ago, is Don Pastor Buenaventura, the man who makes his fortune with the misery of others.
Like Don Pastor, Rodríguez sings and dances the tango “Miseria” and that is that everything is not salsa or tropical music in “The real story of Pedro Navaja”.
Cabrera authorized these “transgressions”, says Edgar García, who is sure that the public will come to the call of a character who has his background in the song “Mike the Knife” of the “Opera of the three cents” of Brecht.
One of the members of the cast is Alina Robert, a young actress, model and television presenter of Cuban origin who shows another facet of her talent as a singer and dancer.
Robert, actress of the film “Make Love Great Again” and part of the theatrical cast “The Time of the Butterflies”, performed in New York in 2018, has a double challenge, as she makes two roles in “The Real Life of Pedro Navaja” : “Doña Rosa”, an old lady who cleans the employment agency, and “Güincha”, a prostitute.
“This year I face a new challenge, a dream come true, a project that I have longed for all my life,” he says.