Paul Simon's first Broadway musical, The Capeman, based on the true story of a tabloid killer who becomes a poet in prison, began Broadway previews Dec. 1.
This, the first musical by the Grammy-winning composer and singer ("Graceland," "Bridge Over Troubled Water," many more), is scheduled to open at the Marquis Theatre Jan. 8, 1998.
Tickets ($50-$75) are on sale via Ticketmaster, (212) 307-4100. A CD, "Songs From The Capeman, was released Nov. 18, with Simon singing alongside Capeman leads Ruben Blades, Marc Anthony and Ednita Nazario.
Salsa singer Blades (of Seis de Solar) plays the protagonist at age 38, while 26-year-old Latino salsa star Anthony will play the Capeman at 16. Blades, an actor (The Milagro Beanfield War), is best known for his work with the musical group Seis de Solar.
Capeman's mother, Esmeralda, is played by Ednita Nazario. Renaly Santiago plays the "umbrella man," who serves as the Capeman's accomplice. Simon has penned 36 songs for the musical, alongside co-writer and co lyricist Derek Walcott, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1994. Song titles include "I Was Born In Puerto Rico," "Satin Summer Nights," "Time Is An Ocean of Endless Tears," and "Esmeralda's Dream." A production spokesman called the musical style a mix of salsa, 'plenas,' and doo-wop.
Mark Morris, who was choreographer for the show's workshop, replaced Eric Simonson as director of the full project. Sets and costumes are by Bob Crowley; lighting by Natasha Katz; sound by Peter J. Fitzgerald. Also on the creative team: Wendall K. Harrington (projections), Stanley Silverman (co-orchestrator/music arranger/vocal arranger/consultant to Simon), Mark Silag (music coordinator), Roy Halee (sound consultant) and Oscar Hernandez (musical director/conductor/co-orchestrator).
Simon has been working for several years on this musical, based on a real life Manhattan murder case. The New York Times reported that practitioners of the Caribbean religion Santeria have been hired to drum and sing genuine Santero prayers in the musical.
"It's a New York Puerto Rican story," Simon told Playbill earlier this year, "based on events that happened in 1959--events that I remembered."
The musical tells the story of real-life Puerto Rican youth Salvador Agron, who wore a cape while committing two murders in 1959 New York, and who went on to become a poet in prison. Producer Dan Klores called him, "one of the finest Puerto Rican poets of his generation." According to the New York Post, Queens resident Agron stabbed two innocent people to death in NYC's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood. He faced the electric chair but was sentenced to life imprisonment. After 21 years, then-Gov. Nelson Rockefeller freed Agron, who died in 1986.
Simon achieved fame in the 1960s as half of the singing team Simon & Garfunkel. He composed songs including "Mrs. Robinson," "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "Kodachrome," "America," "The Sounds of Silence" and "Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover."
Capeman is being produced by Plenaro Productions, Dan Klores and Edgar Dobie, in association with James L. Nederlander.