THEATRE SPOTLIGHT: LA BAMBA REVIEW AT CURVE, LEICESTER
Think hugely popular tracks, impeccably choreographed dance routines and Latin vibes galore as the brand new musical, La Bamba brings a splash of summer with its world premier at Curve, Leicester.
Production Photography Courtesy: Pamela Raith (unless otherwise stated)
Disclosure: Be-lavie received a press invite to experience ‘La Bamba’. All opinions, and views are our own along with non-production photography and therefore remain a copyright of be-lavie. For further information, refer to our disclosure policy
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La Bamba: The New Musical
La Bamba charts the story of Sofia, a Latina 17 year-old girl from Pacoima, a neighbourhood in Los Angeles. Sofia has a penchant and talent for music, inherited through her parents careers. Ever since she was handed a guitar by her late father (Pasha Kovalev, Strictly Come Dancing), she was smitten with music and strived to fulfil her big dream of being a superstar.
The performance is largely narrated by Sofia through flashbacks featuring her younger self and flitting back to her 17 year old as she the navigates the stardom of a musical career by blending the music of her roots with the music she has bursting inside her.
La Bamba has been choreographed by Graziani Di Prima, one of Strictly Come Dancings professionals and Italian Latin Champion, and as expected the dance elements do not disappoint. Much of the music is inspired by Rock ’n’ Roll star, Ritchie Valens, who tragically passed away age 17 in a plane crash, referred to as ‘day of the dead’ or ‘the day music died’.
This colourful and what can be described as vibrant production, in the most part combines popular hits such as Ricky Martin‘s Livin’ La Vida Loca, Shakira‘s Hips Don’t Lie, Marc Anthony‘s Vivir Mi Vida, Becky G‘s Fulanito, Camila Cabello‘s Havana to mention a few. They’re bold numbers however the musicals strength is in the dance and noteworthy live band performance. The mix of R&B, contemporary and even Latin folk-style music is commendably fused representing those of the Pacoima communities and is made current with the events of the recent pandemic plus the present political unrest.
The musical is written by Paul Morrissey, however the choreography tells the story and takes centre stage, to excuse the pun. The dance routines hold the performance together with a few technical issues where on occasions, it was difficult to hear the annunciation of words. This in turn affected the engagement from an audience perspective. On occasions the story was hard to follow due to the Spanish dialogue which could have been enhanced by reiteration in English or projected stage subtitles.
La Bamba: Notable Performances
It was evident that cast members did a sterling job in projecting their energy and enthusiasm into this show. The level of energy, strength and character in dance work is commendable to say the least. The leading lady, Inês Fernandez, making her stage debut, plays the part of Sofia wonderfully and has an outstanding vocal range. Her Spanish vocals in particular are fantastic and will transport you emotionally.
Support roles include, Siva Kaneswaran (The Wanted) as Mateo (Sofia’s friend and song-writer) and Stefani Ariza as Elena (Sofia’s mother), however it has to be said some of Siva’s character was tougher to get across and resonate with, due to some of the technical problems with range of sound.
Performances from the ‘younger Sofias’ (Lia Alqadhi, Ariana Clima and Lara Friend) are poignantly portrayed, especially the articulation of vocals with music.
Bursting with fast-paced dance, exceptionally choreographed by Graziano de Prima and Erica da Silva their is no denying Strictly Come Dancing fans will be in their element. Think lots of hip action, shimmies and perfectly executed lifts. They did not miss a beat! The dance ensemble is made up of eight talented artists who swarm the length and breath of the stage, including, Tristan Ghostkeeper, Brendan Graham, Luke Jarvis, Gabriella-Rose Marchant, Nicolle Matheu, Bethan Mitchell, Julia Ruiz Fernandez and Alex Sturman.
La Bamba: Staging
When it comes to stage design, one of the most striking backdrops and lighting comes on the scene depicting ‘The Day of the Dead’ or ‘Día de Muertos’ The low light, flickering candle luminosity and costume makes this quite the dramatic scene.
La Bamba: Closing Words
La Bamba provides some electric dancing, which is much anticipated with its Strictly Come Dancing background and tells the story more through the dance than narration or acting. The music spans a range of genres, collated and arranged by award winning musician maestro, Alfonso Casado-Trigo. La Bamba does bring the heat of summer but requires a little work in trying to seamlessly fuse the storyline with dancing and finally to iron out the technicalities with pitching and sound display.
La Bamba Opened at Curve in Leicester and runs until 5th August before heading to London’s Peacock Theatre, Sadler’s Wells West End theatre, for a short season on Tuesday 22 August 2023 until Saturday 2nd September 2023.
La Bamba UK tour continues at locations throughout the UK until the end of 2023. Click for further information of tickets and destinations
- Address: The Curve. Alexandra House, 60 Rutland St, Leicester LE1 1SB
- Box Office: 0116 242 3595
- Box Office Email: email@example.com
- Website: Curve Theatre.
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