ALways RemembeR 2022 World Premiere
On Thanksgiving weekend, a new American musical made its World Premiere in Miami, Florida. Always Remember, by Marilyn Morales, brought audiences to their feet. This high energy and impactful musical transports you into the plight of the Santos family, escaping Castro's Communist regime during the 1960s and 1970s.
Always Remember, with its textured Latin rhythms, rich, soaring melodies and authenticity of story, is reminiscent of West Side Story and Evita. Yet, Morales takes musical theatre to another level.
The orchestration, masterfully arranged by Kirk Whipple, underpins emotions from delight to despair. The range of emotion in the songs and libretto evoked visceral responses from audience members around me. Delightful party scenes like Pepe Timba and Clorox That Voodoo Chicken balance tear jerkers like Goodbye and the title song, Always Remember. Highlighting only a few notable songs is criminal as they are all stunning.
The cast of superior singers, beginning with Carlton Cornish and his buttery tenor tones in Christmas in Havana, to Gerardo Ortega's heroic and spine tingling delivery of Anne Frank. Irene Gonzalez brought sizzle to the stage with her portrayal of the wicked Dolores singing Ay Que Dolor, Dolores and The Tangled Tango. Megan Barerra's gut wrenching duets and solos with her gorgeous dramatic soprano voice left us weeping: A Study in Hope, Lullaby, and (with Gerardo Ortega) Good Bye and We're Not Living Alone Ever Again. Charles Sothers also knocked it out of the park singing Measure of a Man and Pepe Timba. Catherine Magariño portrayed the present day Maria Elena Santos exquisitely singing Virgen, Ciudadeña and Always Remember.
The entire cast had notable voices. Javier Castellanos and Sofia Sanabria sang Our (Not So) Secret Love and Never Will I Love Another with passion, Ryan Townsend: Where Do I Belong made the man sitting next to me cry. Michael Angelo Malachi with a gorgeous baritone voice, Sebastian Hernández and Alex Crutcher delivered The Inventory, a haunting rhythmic piece. Character actors Jose Luis Suazo and Craig Wheeler brought charisma to the stage in their portrayal of Fulano and Mengano. Other notables are Lindsey Kristine Mahia, Orianna Gutierrez, and Mary-Margaret Dale. The chorus played by young teens was small yet glorious.
Always Remember is a powerful work, a true story that needs to be heard.
Reviewed byKatie KetchumMusic director for herchurch, San Francisco, CA