The stage version of Oscar Hijuelos' Pulitzer Prize-winning novel made its world premiere at San Francisco's Golden Gate Theatre, opening May 31 to lackluster reviews. The work is slated for a berth at the Broadway Theatre July 20 and opening Aug. 18.
Columnist Michael Riedel described what has been running in the rumor mill of the theatrical community in recent weeks: Mitchell — a recent Tony Award winner for his choreography on La Cage aux Folles who is supposed to make his Broadway directorial debut with the movie-turned-musical, Legally Blonde — is being asked to restage the show with composer Brown (Parade, The Last Five Years) tinkering the show's score and librettist Ives (White Christmas, Wonderful Town) reworking the book.
Production spokespersons did not confirm any change in the creative team. Composer Brown told Playbill.com that he did see the show in San Francisco and met with the creative team, but would not confirm any involvement.
Based on the Hijuelos' "The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love," the musical follows the same story of two Cuban brothers who travel to New York City in 1949 with dreams of becoming recording stars. The Latin siblings — flashy, guitarist Cesar and his shy, trumpet-playing brother Nestor — rise to fame from the dance halls to perform as Desi Arnaz's cousins on "I Love Lucy."
The novel was adapted for the film starring Armand Assante and Antonio Banderas directed by Arne Glimcher. Glimcher now provides book (with Hijuelos) and lyrics for the musical version which features music by Carlos Franzetti — who also scored the film. Sergio Trujillo served as choreographer with Glimcher as director for the California premiere. "NYPD Blue" star Esai Morales and Mexican-born actor-singer Jamie Camil star as the title brothers with "Six Feet Under" actress Justina Machado as Dolores' sister Ana Maria, David Alan Grier (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum) as nightclub impresario Fernando Perez, Grammy Award-winning Cuban music star Albita as singer Evalina Montoya, Dennis Staroselsky (The Rivals - Huntington) as Bernadito, Cote de Pablo ("The Jury") as Nestor's wife Dolores and Jekyll & Hyde's Christiane Noll as Miss Mambo, Vanna Vane.
Other featured players include Natalia Zisa (as Maria Flores), Allen Hidalgo (Luis, Emcee and Desi), Robert Montano (Pablo), Monica Salazar (Blanca) Cathy Trien (Aunt Celia), Natalie Cortez (Chi Chi), Ivan Hernandez (Roberto, Izzy and Mike Wells), Kay Walbye (Mrs. Shannon), Jeffrey Schecter (Manny), Warren Adams (Johnny Cassanova), Raymond Rodriguez (Rico), Liz Ramos (Beauty) and Luis Salgado (Frankie Suarez).
The ensemble also included Joey Dowling, James Harkness, Ruthie Inchaustegui, Michelle Marmolejo, Carlos Sierra Lopez, Marcos Santana with swings Roxane Carrasco, Tony Falcon, Iresol Cardona and Michael Fielder.
Daryl Roth and Jordan Roth produce The Mambo Kings which capitalized at $12 million. The New York daily speculates the cost of the new creative team and a possible delay of start will up the cost to $15 million.