After almost one year in development, the Mexican premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe's Expreso Astral (Starlight Express) will open Dec. 12 (previews began Nov. 29) in Mexico City.
The West-End hit will open at the new Teatro Polanco; a former movie house that has been recently restored as a legitimate theatre. The 1649-seat venue, built in 1955, will be able to handle any kind of production, including big musicals like Expreso Astral. The Teatro Polanco is conveniently located in the Polanco area, which is famous for its fancy boutiques and restaurants.
Fernando Morett and Cali Dominguez, who co-produced the Mexican version of Cats, are producing Starlight Express in association with Producciones Expreso Astral, which is a new Mexican company that will be dedicated to produce shows at the new Teatro Polanco. Producciones Expreso Astral is formed by Cinemex (a major Mexican movie theater corporation), Mexican impresario Marcial Davila (producer of hits like Me & My Girl and A Chorus Line) and Grupo Mundo (a major Mexican communications corporation). Producciones Expreso Astral future projects include the Mexican premiere of Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera in 1999.
Bob Love is directing and choreographing this production of Starlight Express, which based in the long-running London staging, will include the five new songs added to the score in 1993. Heading a cast of 40 roller-skating singers and dancers are Maru Duenas, Enrique del Olmo, Lilia Sixtos and Alejandra Murga, all of them members of the 1992 Mexican company of Cats.
Reproducing John Napier's spectacular set for Starlight Express are Alfonso de la Concha, Carlos Trejo and Jorge Leon, while Silvia Castro will reproduce Napier's imaginative costumes and Rick Belzer (lighting designer of the Mexican Cats) will recreate David Hersey's original lighting designs. Willy Gutierrez, musical director of hits like Yo y Mi Chica (Me & My Girl) and Dulce Caridad (Sweet Charity) will be the musical supervisor and director for this production. Marco Villafan, who translated the lyrics of Cats and Evita, has translated Richard Stilgoe's lyrics into Spanish.
Cali Dominguez, associate producer for Expreso Astral, told Playbill On-Line that the Mexican cast recording of the musical is ready, but it won't be released yet since there are some right issues that are being negotiated with PolyGram, which is the international recording corporation that holds the rights for all the Starlight recordings. Coincidentally, the Mexican revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Evita, starring Rocio Banquells, is set to begin previews Dec. 11 at the Teatro Silvia Pinal.
Mexico's Expreso Astral runs Wed. & Thurs. at 8 PM, Fri. at 6:30 PM & 9 PM, and Sat.& Sun. at 5 PM & 8 PM. Tickets ($200-$90 Mexican Pesos) are available at all Cinemex movie theaters and through the Cinemex Line at (52-5) 257 6969.
--By Claudio Carrera