Havana After Dark is an exhilarating musical journey through Havana’s history. The show, a celebration of Havana’s 500th birthday, directed by Toby Gough, demonstrates a political message- despite sanctions on the country, Cubans are strong and resilient.
Interwoven with a narration on the history and politics of Cuba, Havana After Dark offers an escape, transporting the audience to downtown Havana. The choreographed numbers seek to capture the aspirations and struggles of Cubans living in Havana. The musical ensemble and dancers offer a wide array of musical genre and dance styles to popular hits such as Camilla Cabello’s “Havana” and Beyoncé “Halo”.
The highlight of the show is the dancers who move from ballet to salsa to street dancing rather flawlessly. The ballet dancers (Barbara Patterson and Daniel Rittoles), in particular, encapsulate the passion embedded in the musical with their long lines and captivating expressions. The dancers hail from renounce dance academies in Cuba, and the level of professionalism is evident as all the dancers move in sync and perform intricate moves.
The music behind Havana After Dark is exceptional, with keyboardist, Rolando Luna Carrillo, and trumpeter, Benilde Aysmel Guzmán Marino, taking centre stage. The surprising jazz number in the middle of the performance adds colour to the otherwise Latin-inspired hits. The singers, Maria Gisela Lepio and Joaquin Garcia Mejias, play an important role in the musical with their narration connecting each choreographed number. The vocal range of the singers is astounding and seek to invoke emotions in the audience through their ballads as if we are experiencing life in Havana. While most of the songs are in Spanish, the cast includes a few English pop hits, which is a pity as it deviates from the message of the musical and sound like mediocre covers.
The main pitfall with the performance was the theatre space in EICC, which did not work for the show’s format. It is challenging to focus on everything going on in the stage if you were not lucky enough to get a good seat. The cast’s efforts to interact with the audience at the end of the show adds a nice personal touch to the show, with many audience members choosing to go up on stage to shimmy with the dancers.
Overall, Havana After Dark is the perfect show to see before you get your night started at a Latin party.
Havana After Dark is on at Pleasance at EICC- Lennox (Venue 150)
Until 20th, 22-25th August
Tickets can be found here:
Image credit: Robin Pedraja
Ballet couple: Daniel Rittoles and Barbara Patterson