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Forever Tango

by Jennifer Wesnousky
July 21, 2004
Shubert Theatre
225 West 44th Street
New York, NY 10036
212.239.6200

FOREVER TANGO

Sam S. Shubert Theatre
225 West 44th Street (between Broadway & 8th)
New York, NY
July 20-August 29, 2004

The performance schedule is as follows: Tuesday - Saturday at 8:00 p.m., with matinees on Wednesday and Saturday at 2:00 p.m. and Sunday at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are $85 - $45 and are available at the Shubert Theatre Box Office or by telephoning Telecharge at (212) 239-6200 or by visiting www.telecharge.com.

Jennifer E. Wesnousky
July 21, 2004

I have spoken with many a tanguero (Argentine tango dancer) who confessed to having been so inspired by the first Broadway rendition of Forever Tango (which played for nearly a year at the Walter Kerr Theatre in 1997 before moving for four months to the Marquis) that, after paying the exorbitant Broadway ticket price multiple times, actually begun to take tango lessons him or herself. Like the show upon its close in July 1998, many of these people became history themselves in the sense of becoming, well, tango addicts. Years later, they are spotted multiple times per week at New York's nightly milongas (tango dances), may confess to having lost touch with the majority of their non-tango acquaintances and, have even been known to make multiple pilgrimages to the promised land (Buenos Aires, of course) in an effort to hone their tango skills with some of the very performers from Forever Tango's original, all-Argentine cast. Having reopened on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre on July 20, 2004, this version of the show will undoubtedly create a similar phenomenon.

When I went to the theatre on July 21st, I could not help but chuckle upon witnessing the exchange of enthusiastic waves from across the room as well as besos and abrazos (hugs and kisses) between members of the New York tango community of which I must confess to being a part. A significant percent of the audience appeared to be familiar, if not friendly with one another. Also spied in the audience was Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the (in?)famous TV talk show doc known in the 1980s for her program about sex. Perhaps she came to delve further into the sensual realms which Argentine tango so often explores.

One of Forever Tango's opening scenes, El Suburbio, after all, involved a bevy of wigged, scantily clad tangueras (female dancers) who portrayed a mixture of reluctance and flirtation as, in an upbeat milonga (quicker, more cheerful cousin of the tango) they were steered about the room by their overbearing male leads. Here was "the bordello scene" which has become a cliché in tango shows because of tango's roots in the late nineteenth century brothels of Buenos Aires. Although veteran milonguero, Carlos Gavito, was certainly missed in his role as the cigarette-smoking pimp whose shoes are eagerly shined by the prostitutes who attend to him, the winsome Jorge Torres brought his own charm and charisma to the role.

The two additional scenes in which Mr. Torres was featured were among the highlights of the evening. Romance entre el Bandoneón y mi Alma was a ballet-infused pas de deux in which each lift and line was more stunning than the next. Here, Torres was partnered by the exquisite Guillermina Quiroga, who, wrapped in beautiful, body-hugging lace (in contrast to the more traditional costumes worn by the dancers in the other pieces), was captivating to behold. Later, Torres performed A Evaristo Carrìego, with Gavito's former partner, Marcela Duran. This segment, and indeed Duran herself, exuded the kind of insatiable quest for romantic and/or sexual fulfillment so frequently embodied by the dance.

Other numbers, such as Claudio Gonzalez and Melina Brufman's Tanguera, could be more aptly described as athletic as the dancers moved at mystifying paces, executing striking and technically challenging jumps and leaps at the least awaited moment. It is this very showy quality which is probably the reason why Forever Tango is one of those topics which might insight a heated flurry of combative e-mails in such as the Yahoo tango forum. Some would undoubtedly argue fervently that the intricate- and might I add flawlessly executed- jazz and ballet-inspired kicks, jumps, leaps and dramatic poses were obviously "not truly Tango". However, to the non-trained eye, the subtleties of the close embrace, milonguero-style tango danced socially first in the halls of Buenos Aires and now throughout the world, while deemed more authentic by many, would most certainly get lost in their translation onto the stage. Forever Tango, then, fulfilled its theatrical responsibility by employing dancers (who could most certainly hold their own at any milonga) to convey the range of styles and steps of traditional tango while making them big enough to both reach the back row of the theatre and appeal to the portion of the audience who knew nothing about tango per se.

Someone non-familiar with the format of a tango show might furthermore find it unusual that seven pieces of Forever Tango were performed by the orchestra alone, with no other action onstage. And yet, the excellently selected soundtrack, performed passionately by an orchestra of eleven artistic and highly skilled musicians, soon took on a life of its own. The same could be said about the songs performed by the show's sole singer, Miguel Velázquez, who crooned tango standards Los Mareados and El Día que me Quieras with flare. While subtle in comparison to the powerhouse belting of Carlos Morel, the singer in the original Broadway cast, Velázquez held the audience's attention with an always interesting cross between introspection and animation.

Sometimes, because of the extent to which what happens within the tango's embrace may not translate visually to the outside world, I have felt reluctant to accommodate my non-tango friends' pleas to expose them to what has come to be an integral (and, dare I say imperative?) part of my life. However, I would gladly implore them to see Forever Tango, which successfully bridged the gap between tango's many fanatics and those who have never attempted a boleo or any other tango move, by treating viewers to a potpourri of the emotions one may experience within the dance: from Carlos Vera and Laura Marcarie's aloof dignity, to Marcela Duran's unquenchable yearning to Marcelo Bernadaz and Verónica Gardella's comedic, playful mood. However, I would caution anyone who might feel moved by Forever Tango to take a lesson or two to beware of the potentially life-altering, highly addictive nature of the dance.


Gabriel Ortega and Sandra Bootz in Forever Tango
Photo courtesy of Joan Marcus



Jorge Torres, Marcela Duran in Forever Tango
Photo courtesy of Joan Marcus



Jorge Torres, Guillermina Quiroga in Forever Tango
Photo courtesy of Joan Marcus


Orchestra Director: Victor Levallén

Dancers: Jorge Torres, Marcela Durán & Guillermina Quiroga, Gabriel Ortega & Sandra Bootz, Carlos Vera & Laura Macarie, Francisco Forquera & Natalia Hills, Marcelo Bernadaz & Veronica Gardella, Claudio Gonzalez & Melina Brufman, Alejandra Gutty & Juan Pablo Horvath.

Singer: Miguel Velasquez

Musicians: Victor Levallén, Santos Maggi, Jorge Tivisonno and Carlos Niesi (Bandoneons), Rodion Boshoer and Abraham Becker (violins), Alexander Sechkin (viola), Patricio Villarejo (cello), Pablo Motta (bass), Jorge Vernieri (piano), Gustavo Casenave (keyboard).

Lighting Design: Luis Bravo
Costume Design: Argemira Affonso
Sound Design: Mike Miller
Hair and Make-up Design: Jean Luc Don Vito
General Manager: Mary-Evelyn Card
Press Representative: Richard Kornberg & Associates, Rick Moramontez
Marketing: Renee Miller Mutchnik
Production Manager: Carlos Diaz
Stage Manager: Jorge Gonzalez

Choreography by: The Dancers.

Created and Directed by: Luis Bravo

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