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Celia: The Life and Music of Celia Cruz

February 15, 2010 10:04:20 AM PST
From her humble beginnings in Cuba to her formidable 60-year career, Celia Cruz is indisputably one of Latin music's most unforgettable artists. Now the seven-time Grammy Award-winner and legendary Queen of Salsa has been introduced to another generation of Latin music fans through the musical Celia: The Life and Music of Celia Cruz. http://www.celiacruzthemusical.com The off-Broadway show opens in Chicago next month for one week at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, Chicago. The show runs from Thursday, March 18 through Sunday, March 21.

"We're delighted to work with the International Latino Cultural Center to showcase 'Celia' in Chicago," said Henry Cardenas, the show's executive producer. "Since embarking on this tour, we've been constantly reminded of how much the world loved and admired Celia. She was an incredibly gifted artist whose legacy will live on forever. We hope Chicago audiences will also enjoy this tribute to the great 'Queen of Salsa.'"

Chicago audiences will be taken on a 60-year journey through the life and music of Cruz, from her early life in Cuba to her international superstardom. Told through the eyes of her beloved husband Pedro Knight, Celia http://www.celiacruzthemusical.com features an ensemble of 16 singers, dancers and musicians in a live performance that highlights the global music icon's greatest hits. Song lyrics and dialog are in Spanish for all performances, except for one bilingual show with English dialog and Spanish music at 7 pm on March 21.

Anissa Gathers sings and acts in the lead role of Celia. Music director Isidro Infante ? who performed with the real Cruz ? leads a seven-piece band that accompanies Gathers and the cast in faithful live renditions of the Queen of Salsa's repertoire, including "Guantanamera", "Químbara," "Bemba Colora," "Cucala," "La Vida Es Un Carnaval" and dozens more that became universal hits. Anissa has starred in Celia since the hit musical's Off-Broadway run in 2007 and throughout the show's current world tour,

Raised in Puerto Rico, Anissa returned to her native New York as a 17-year-old to pursue her artistic career. During her tenure with the dance institution Meztizo Company, her musical repertoire often included the music of the legendary Celia Cruz. Critics were quick to compare her voice to that of the legendary salsa superstar Celia Cruz. It would be no surprise to her followers in the New York tropical music scene that her Off-Broadway debut was in the musical christened after the undisputed "Queen of Salsa." Last year, Anissa starred in the musical, The Magic of Salsa Kingdom, created especially for the 2009 edition of the United Kingdom's biggest Latin dance and music festival, which takes place in Manchester, England.

Since opening to rave reviews Off-Broadway in August 2007, Celia has gone on to see continued success in Miami, Tenerife, Spain and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The show launched its international tour in June 2008 in Miami, drawing more than 20,000 attendees including artists Gloria and Emilio Estefan, David Caruso and Jon Secada. Pop queen Madonna also took in the musical during its nine-month engagement in New York.

"The International Latino Cultural Center recognized Celia in 1999 with the Gloria Lifetime Achievement Award ?for her artistic excellence and contribution to the development of Latino cultures worldwide," said ILCC Executive Director Pepe Vargas. "It gives us great pleasure to collaborate with CMN and be a part of this extraordinary musical rendition."

Celia was written by the husband and wife team of Carmen Rivera and Candido Tirado and produced by Henry Cardenas, producer of the hit musical, Who Killed Hector Lavoe? The director is Jaime Azpilicueta, one of Spain's most prominent theatrical directors.

Tickets for Chicago performances of Celia are now on sale at Ticketmaster by calling 1-800-745-3000 or online at www.ticketmaster.com. For more information, call 312.492-6424 or visit http://www.athenaeumtheatre.com and http://www.celiacruzthemusical.com

About Celia Cruz

From her humble beginnings in Cuba to her formidable 60-year career, seven-time Grammy Award-winner Celia Cruz is indisputably one of Latin music's most unforgettable artists. It was in radio's heyday that Celia's voice became a regular fixture on 1940's Cuban airwaves. Along the way, she met many influential artists and music producers and, in 1950, was invited to join La Sonora Matancera, revered as the Latin equivalent of the Duke Ellington Orchestra. She remained with that iconic group for 15 years.

In July 1962, Celia married the band's trumpet player, Pedro Knight ? it was a relationship that would last a lifetime. Their journey together began in Mexico, where the orchestra set up base after Fidel Castro assumed control of Cuba. Celia had vowed never to return to the island and, in 1965, she launched her solo career, relocating to New York City and teaming with the singular Tito Puente, with whom she shared a lifelong association. Celia found international fame collaborating with star flautist and composer Johnny Pacheco, co-founder of Fania Records. Their huge hits included "Quimbara," "Toro Mata," and "Canto a la Habana." These songs and others are nothing less than the soundtrack of 1970's New York City.

Celia Cruz has also been captured in film with cameos in such motion pictures as The Mambo Kings and The Perez Family. She recorded with some of the biggest names from all genres of music: David Byrne, Willie Colón, Dionne Warwick, Patti Labelle, Gloria Estefan, Vicente Fernandez, Oscar D'Leon, and Marc Anthony, among many others. Celia continued to record and perform until sidelined by a brain tumor in 2002. While recovering from surgery she managed to make it in to the studio in early 2003 to record her last album, "Regalo del Alma." She died on July 16, 2003.

"CELIA: THE LIFE AND MUSIC OF CELIA CRUZ"

March 18 through March 21
Athenaeum Theatre
2936 N. Southport, Chicago
312.492-6424
http://www.athenaeumtheatre.com


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