Stephen Clark and Helen Edmundson's West End musical sensation "Zorro" has earned $70 million since it earned raves from London critics. The hard-to-please theater critic of the Guardian even called it "popular theatre that actually delivers the goods." Since its 2009 close in England, the musical has graced stages in France, China, Brazil and even Bulgaria. But not the United States. Until now.
So let's just call Hale Centre Theatre's U.S. premiere rights to this work one of the biggest, most unexpected theater coups of the year. Bursting at the seems with fiery Latin touches including Flamenco dancing, magic tricks of illusion, romance and Spanish guitar the staff of Hale went so far as to enlist the advice of a Las Vegas illusionists to pull it off with expert flair. Solange Gomes, a specialist in Flamenco choreography, also contributed. Kacey Udy, the theater's technical director, reports in press materials for the upcoming Feb. 16 premiere that so far the production "is pushing everything we are able to do at HCT.
The story revolves around Johnston McCulley's famous fictional character of the Californios, or people of Spanish-era California. Sent to Spain by his father, brash young caballero Don Diego de la Vega returns to his California home after his old friend turned army captain, Ramon, turns tyrannical. He rights wrongs, smites the bad guy, and keeps the embers of beautiful Luisa's heart burning. It's one of the great "mysterious hero" stories. On stage, it's a marvel of fight scenes and great theater fun. Hale Centre Theatre's production is directed and choreographed by David Tinney. Derek Smith and Casey Elliott alternate the title role, with Paul Cartwright and Preston Yates alternating as Ramon and Megan Heaps and Jacquelyn Jones alternating as Luisa.