Zorro – An Atlanta Theater Fans Review

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Greg Lockett (ensemble) and Philip Mills (ensemble and Zorro double). Photo by Greg Mooney

Greg Lockett and Philip Mills. Photo by Greg Mooney

When the swashbuckling, romantic hero, clad in a black cape and mask, swoops in over the seats to save the day, the opening night crowd erupts in cheers. The scene is just one of the many magical moments that stir the crowd throughout the crowd-pleasing musical.

Making its American premiere on the Alliance Stage, Zorro is a one-of-a-kind musical that meshes together traditional Flamenco music with modern Broadway sensibilities. You won’t be disappointed with the spectacle, music, choreography and performances of the show.

Written by Stephen Clark (Book and Lyrics) with music by the Gipsy Kings, the musical has been retooled from its original UK version, which played on London’s West End in 2008-2009. It earned five Laurence Olivier Award nominations, including Best  New Musical, and won one for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical for Lesli Margherita, who played Inez.

Cristian Puig, Natascia Diaz, and Andrea Goss in Zorro. Photo by Greg Mooney

Cristian Puig, Natascia Diaz, and Andrea Goss in Zorro. Photo by Greg Mooney

From the moment the theater fills with gypsies who gather to tell the tale of Zorro, you realize that this production will not be your typical theater experience. It follows Diego (who will become Zorro) from Los Angeles as a child to Spain, where he was to go to school. Bored with school, he meets up and travels with a band of gypsies, learning their skills of showmanship.  When his childhood-love Luisa comes to Spain to tell him of his father’s death, everything changes for this prodigal son who returns home to save his town from the despotic rule of his brother.

Perfectly cast as Diego/Zorro, Adam Jacobs shines. He makes the role his own, and he easily wins over the crowd. His stunning performance in “Hope” and “Senor,” are memorable and powerful. Jacobs easily portrays the bumbling alter ego with impeccable comic timing.

Likewise, Andrea Goss, as Lusia, delights the audience as the feisty love interest for Diego. Gross’ vocals soar throughout the musical, and she provides a strong contrast to Inez, the Gypsy queen. Natascia Diaz makes playing the wise-cracking role of Inez look easy. Her Inez is enchanting, and quickly becomes one of the most memorable characters in the show. Nicholas Carrière excels in the role of the jealous brother, who has a fascination with being adored by the public as a bull fighter.

Musically, the show has the pop leanings of The Gipsy Kings’ Flamenco music, and when coupled with the choreography, the music comes alive and becomes a character all its own, making it mesmerizing. There are several company numbers, mostly with the gypsies (a few with the town’s people) that will captivate the most jaded audience member, such as “Bambeleo” and “One More Beer.”

Diaz, Adam Jacobs, and the cast of the Alliance Theatre’s 2012/13 production of Zorro. Photo by Ross DeLoach

Diaz, Adam Jacobs, and the cast of the Alliance Theatre’s 2012/13 production of Zorro. Photo by Ross DeLoach

While there is much to love about the musical, the show has its faults, most of which are easily ignored. Sure, the narrative is thin and the love story isn’t as gripping as it could be (“A Love We’ll Never Live” is a tender love ballad, but there isn’t an “All I Ask of You” moment). In addition, the campiness of the show becomes a little too much by the end. However, the music, the dancing, the showmanship of the show lift it up above any of these narrative flaws.

Reminiscent of the big blockbuster musical of the 80s and 90s, Zorro provides stunning theatrics and captivating performances, making it one of the must see shows of the season. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Atlanta has a sudden interest in Flamenco music and dancing.

The musical, which plays on the Alliance Stage through May 5, 2013, runs a little over two and a half hours with a 15 minute intermission. For tickets and more information, please visit the theater’s website.

– Kenny Norton