Anjou: The Musical Horror Tale has its world premiere of musical highlights on Playbill.com/anjou on Friday, January 29, 2021 at 8pm ET.
It’s free, but donations benefit Broadway Cares, the largest financial supporter of The Actors Fund. New Yorkers know Broadway performers need help right now during the pandemic shutdown. Let’s open our wallets. Support the arts!
Anjou: The Musical Horror Tale
“Anjou” is a modern Mexican opera about how French Queen Mother Catherine de’Medici (1519 – 1589) maintained her own power by setting Catholics and Protestants against each other, most famously in the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of 1572.
There are obvious parallels to recent events in our time, in our own country.
History Repeats Itself
Even the ancients were aware that history repeats itself, but “Anjou” has an unusual history. It’s a modern Mexican opera that is making its way to Broadway by being translated into English.
The usual intersection of Broadway and the Latin world is Broadway hits being translated and performed in Spanish or Portuguese. “Anjou” breaks the mold by going the other way – from Spanish in the Latin world into English for Broadway.
How cool is that? The same journey happened in history when Latin rock developed in Mexico and Argentina before being re-born in the USA as Latin Alternative.
It’s worth noting that Mexico has strong opera traditions. For example, opera legend Plácido Domingo was born in Spain, but raised in Mexico. Younger Mexican opera stars include Rolando Villazón, Javier Camarena and Ailyn Pérez.
The musical was written by Guillermo Mendez M. with lyrics by him and Guadalupe Sandoval. The English adaption by Javier Vilalta is directed by Roberto Araujo. Grammy and Emmy Award winner John McDaniel (Annie Get Your Gun, The Rosie O’Donnell Show) is music director.
In addition to his directing talents, Roberto Araujo is a Broadway media guy. He is the Director of Video Production for Playbill, the magazine of Broadway productions. This is one of the fruits of his long-term effort to bring original Latin productions to Broadway.
We asked Araujo why people should see the show?
“Music lovers are in for an incredible display of talent with some of the biggest Broadway stars. Also, we are proud of being the first Mexican musical translated to English and presented in this format and who knows, maybe the stage in the future. And last but not least, it’s for a great cause. Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is the philanthropic heart of Broadway and works really hard to help those in need, particularly in these challenging times.”
We noted that this is a universal story which could be applied to any culture. Araujo spoke to that.
“One of the things I love about this show is that it’s a Mexican show telling a human story. It’s not about illegal immigrants or drug cartels, those tropes expected from Latinx composers. It’s about intolerance, abuse of power and greed. And we can all tell those stories since we all experience them differently.”
Anjou: The Musical Horror Tale All-Star Cast
“Anjou” is being premiered by an all-star cast of Broadway musical actors. The cast list is one OMG after another of performers that Broadway fans know and love from their favorite shows. In the style of a Broadway concept album, actors will share roles throughout the performance.
Catherine de’ Medici
- Taylor Iman Jones 🇺🇸 (Groundhog Day, American Idiot)
- Bianca Marroquín 🇲🇽 (In the Heights) is also the Narrator
- Julia Murney 🇺🇸 (Wicked)
- Kristie Dale Sanders 🇺🇸 (Oklahoma, Evita)
The Italian noblewoman who became Queen of France was the most powerful woman in Europe during the 1500s. She used her power as Queen Mother to keep the monarchy together at the expense of the people she ruled.
Catherine is famous for bringing ballet, an Italian court dance, to Paris. We always respected her for that, but it turns out Catherine’s ballet was just cover for failed leadership. It’s an early version of “Everything’s Fine.”
Having been raised with a silver spoon in her mouth (como una niña bien), the sovereign was completely out of touch with her own people. See we’re dancing. “Everything’s Fine.”
The king of France.
- Roberto Araujo 🇲🇽 (Playbill)
- Jonathan Burke 🇺🇸 (The Inheritance, New Amsterdam)
- Jay Armstrong Johnson 🇺🇸 (On the Town)
- Jelani Remy 🇹🇹🇧🇧 (Ain’t Too Proud)
- Adam Roberts 🇺🇸 (Pippin, Spider-Man)
Margo de Valoís
A member of the Valois dynasty which ruled France since the 1300s.
- Caroline Bowman 🇺🇸 (Wicked)
- Shereen Pimentel 🇺🇸 (West Side Story)
- Eva Tavares 🇨🇦 (Phantom of the Opera National Tour)
- Javier Muñoz 🇵🇷 (Hamilton)
- Austin Colby 🇺🇸 (Jersey Boys)
- Nathan Cockroft 🇺🇸 (Moulin Rouge)
- Kevin Curtis 🇺🇸 (Moulin Rouge)
- Gabriel Hyman 🇺🇸 (Hamilton National Tour)
- Michael Perrie Jr. 🇺🇸 (Million Dollar Quartet National Tour)
Those Who Cannot Remember the Past Are Condemned to Repeat It
The quote is attributed to Harvard philosopher George Santayana 🇪🇸.
Hmm. This real history of “Anjou” sounds a lot like the U.S. Capitol Insurrection of January 6, 2021, when a failing American “king” incited a mostly Protestant mob to storm the Capitol on Three Kings Day, a treasured Catholic holiday. We didn’t see it this way until we understood the story of “Anjou.”
Anybody who wants a revolution or war has never lived through one. They are long, bloody messes that mostly hurt innocents. When will we ever learn?
And any leader who intentionally sets their own people against each other for political gain, doesn’t deserve to lead. This has nothing to do with Red or Blue.
We are very excited to see Anjou: The Musical Horror Tale and help out Broadway actors who are such an “essential” part of what makes New York, New York.
PS: Thanks to New York’s King of Latin Culture, Fernando Cárdenas at NY1 Noticias for pointing us towards this story.