Mexican family on the border about new musical in Barrington



The southern border of the United States is the setting for “A Crossing,” a new dance musical that examines through movement and song the aspirations, ideals and struggles of a Mexican family seeking entry. The one-act show will premiere on Thursday, September 23, and run for three weeks at the Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

In this last production of the year, BSC presents two of its flagship artists. “A Crossing” was written by playwright and author Mark St. Germain (“Eleanor”, “Dr. Ruth, All the Way”) and is directed by Joshua Bergasse (“Pirates of Penzance”, “On the Town” ).

Another collaborator is new on the scene. Alberto Lopez is a choreographer who runs the Calpulli Mexican Dance Company in Brooklyn. For “A Crossing” he worked as a playwright and history consultant and he shares the same billing with Bergasse for the choreography. Besides his artistic credentials, Lopez brings first-hand knowledge of the subject. His family immigrated when he was 14.

“I know how much people suffer crossing the border,” Lopez says. “It’s never an easy process and always a tough decision to say I’m going to move to another country. They travel with only the essentials, a bottle of water and pocket money, leaving everything behind, including family and parents.

In the new show, the little family meets drug mules, human smugglers known as “coyotes” and armed militias. Although it looks like a dark scene, about 70% of “A Crossing” includes dancing. This is according to Lopez who says the dancing will bring relief and entertainment and is also used to move the story forward. The marches are an athletic mix of ballet, Broadway and traditional Mexican, which Lopez refers to with the Spanish term “folklorico”.

Celebrating the richness of Mexican dance is the mission of Calpulli, the Lopez company co-founded in 2002. The name dates back to Aztec culture and refers to a large number of people united in a common goal or effort, such as a family. or a team.

In addition to performances and educational programs in New York City, Calpulli has toured internationally and appeared at Jacob’s Pillow for three consecutive seasons over the past decade.

The company has contributed to the development of “A Crossing” through the workshop process over the past few years. For the premiere, the 12-member cast is made up of young musical theater artists who auditioned in New York for Lopez and Bergasse. Two of them will serve as narrators and there is a group of six musicians. The original songs are by Zoe Sarnak while the traditional songs and dances are arranged by George Saenz, Music Director of Calpulli.

Most of the production is in English, although there is also a good deal of Spanish, which is only appropriate for a story that takes place on the border between two cultures. Lopez says the shared language of dancing underlies the entire procedure. It was also a common ground for the collaboration process with Bergasse.

“We found it very easy to communicate, sometimes without speaking,” says Lopez. “We listen to everyone’s ideas and keep coming back to the script. We are an amazing team.

When asked if “A Crossing” was for white audiences or if his own family would appreciate it, Lopez was quick to respond, “Every family, regardless of color, will enjoy the show because every family from this country is coming from somewhere, examine your background and ancestors and be ready to celebrate.

Joseph Dalton is a freelance writer based in Troy.

Barrington Stage Company Presents World Premiere of “A Crossing: A Dance Musical”

When: Opening Thursday September 23 and 20 additional performances until October 16.

Or: Boyd-Quinson Stage, 30 Union Street, Pittsfield, Mass.

Tickets: $ 25 to $ 79. Call (413) 236-8888.

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