What better place to celebrate The Day Of The Dead (Dia de los Muertos) on Nov.1 & 2 than under the stars at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in the Hollywood Hills?
"Spirits Rising," no longer a one-night-only event due to an enthusiastic demand for tickets, will feature music, dance, poetry and comedy in the style of a "tanda" (Mexican vaudeville from an earlier era). A procession of "calaveras," or skulls and skeletons, and other friendly spirits, will begin the festivities at 7pm both nights.
Presented by the Mark Taper Forum's Latino Theare Initiative, the presentation will feature El Vez, the Mexican Elvis, as master of ceremonies. Poet/writer/TV celebrity Ruben Martinez will appear with comedienne Maria Canals, and East L.A. Taiko, the first-ever all Latino Japanese Drum group, will play. Also appearing will be KABC-TV anchor Laura Diaz, taking part in a comedy sketch by Lalo Lopez of the L.A. Weekly; Luis Alfaro in a comic performance piece; Rosie Flores doing rockabilly music, Tony Munoz offering rope tricks; Latin jazz band Ozomatli; 16-year-old singer Nydia Rojas; and the Roosevelt High School Dance Team.
The Taper's Latino Theatre Initiative is a four-year effort to increase Latino audiences at the theatre. As a holiday, Dia de los Muertos dates back to pre-Columbian times in Mexico and celebrates death, not as an end, but as a new beginning.
Patssi Valdez has designed the set for "Spirits Rising;" costumes are by Candice Cain, lighting by Jose Lopez, sound by Jon Gottlieb. For tickets and information, call (213) 628-2772.
-- By David Lefkowitz