Main Street Theater collaborates with MECA Houston (Multicultural Education and Counseling through the Arts) to present a Mexican Pastorela, La Música del Cielo (Music from Heaven), written and directed by Peter Webster. The production will be presented in Spanish with English surtitles.
The piece is designed for family audiences, ages 3 and up, with ticket prices ranging from $12 - $16 (special discount for MECA members). There will be 3 performances, tonight, December 7 – 9, 2012 at MST – Chelsea Market, 4617 Montrose Blvd. Performances are on Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm, and Sunday at 3pm. Tickets are on sale by phone at 713.524.6706, or online at www.mainstreettheater.com.
Audiences are encouraged to come early for A Taste of a Mexican Christmas before the show, including tamales and hot chocolate! Celebrate with family and friends. 6:45pm on Friday and Saturday; 2:15pm on Sunday.
La Música del Cielo (Music from Heaven) is an interpretation of a Classic Mexican Pastorela (Shepherds Play), a centuries-old popular theater-piece with music and dance, presented around Christmas time. All Pastorelas tell the story of Shepherds on their way to Bethlehem to greet the Christ Child, and how Devils try to stop them.
Pastorelas are traditionally comic, irreverent and politically savvy. Only the Holy Family is sacred. Traditional songs and dances abound. The art form is part pageant, comedy review, Morality play, political commentary, and song and dance spectacle. Pastorelas, like the English Christmas Pantos, present their joyful, profound message of Good over Evil in strong, primary colors.
La Musica del Cielo characters include such archeypes as Luzbel (Lucifer), King of the Devils; his clueless lieutenants, the devils Asmodeo and Belzebú; the 7 Deadly Sins, or Vices, (Lust, Gluttony, Envy, Violence, Sloth, Pride and Avarice); and an infernal ensemble of little devils. Humans traveling to greet the Holy Family include La Gila, a heroic Shepherdess and her simple son, El Bato; La Ermitaña (The Hermitess), a blind seeker of truth; and a flock of brave, dancing little sheep. Heavenly characters include San Miguel (Saint Michael) Heaven’s Warrior; Saint Cecilia, patron Saint of Music; and, of course, The Holy Family. The play will be performed by professional actors from the Main Street company and students, faculty, and alumni from MECA AfterSchool Arts Program, including mariachi musicians and ballet folklórico dancers.
Inspired by the memories of 6th Ward legend Juanita Vásquez, La Música del Cielo was written by and will be directed by theater professional Peter Webster. A longtime resident of Mexico City and Houston, Mr. Webster has directed projects at Main Street Theater (An Ideal Husband) the Alley Theatre (The Duchess of Malfi, Romeo and Juliet – a co-production with MECA), The Ensemble Theatre (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Celeste Bedford-Walker’s Distant Voices – Susan Smith Blackburn prize-winner), Houston Grand Opera (World Premiere of Little Women, also nationally telecast on PBS Great Performances), and at theaters and opera companies in Mexico, New York, California, Utah and Connecticut, where he is currently based. Director, author, producer, opera drama-and-text coach and sometime actor, the multilingual Mr. Webster notes, “I create projects that permit professional arts organizations, educational institutions, and communities to work together. Each component in this collaboration adds its own particular expertise to the project. These components work together, meld, to achieve a directed, united purpose. The result is a unified effort, inclusive, supportive. The end result belongs to everyone.” This is certainly true of this project, and Main Street is excited to be working with MECA for the first time.
Jef Johnson will create the role of El 4-en-Uno (The 4-in-One), a Super-Vice combining Gluttony, Envy, Violence and Sloth all in one. Mr. Johnson has been called a pioneer in the field of Performance Theory and Creative Development. His research, has contributed to a movement toward a more honest and open dialogue in education, business, the arts and even in public policy. As a researcher, his work focuses on human consciousness, creative intuition and perception.
Currently on hiatus, Mr. Johnson is a principal artist in the company of Slava’s Snowshow, (Off Broadway, Broadway and International tours). He has also worked with Cirque du Soleil as clown, special artistic consultant, and workshop director. He is the founding director of La ONDA (Observacion Nueva de los Artes), faculty member of the Nouveau Clown Institute in Barcelona, Spain, and has served as Artistic Coordinator for the International Nonverbal Theatre Initiative, based in St. Petersburg, Russia. He has been commissioned by many universities and companies, including: Cirque du Soleil, Slava’s Snowshow, Camp Broadway, University of Houston, University of Pennsylvania, Colombia University, Weslayan University, NYU, CUNY, SUNY, UNAM, CENART, UDEM, TEC Monterrey, UQROO, BUAP, among others.
At present, he is in Mexico, conducting research into the nature of human consciousness, creative association and social performance. Drawing from Clown, Mask and Butoh, his work has initiated deeper investigation into the primary essence of human experience, character and performance, including the formation of a new performance discipline which he calls Manantial (Wellspring). Mr. Johnson has performed or taught on five continents in more than 20 countries. A native of Houston, he will be familiar to many audiences from his many roles at Main Street Theater, Stages Repertory Theatre, TUTS, Houston Shakespeare Festival and other venues.
Julio López is the Mexican Ballet Folklorico Director for the production. Julio López is an award-winning performer and choreographer with decades of experience. He was formerly the Artistic Director of Ballet Folklórico Umalayapem of the Casa de Cultura in Tampico, Tamaulipas, and is a graduate of the Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas. He continued his artistic studies at Instituto Regional de Bellas Artes de Tampico with Professor Manuel Vargas. His commitment to excellence resulted in his receiving first place awards in various competitions, as well as invitations to participate as a special guest artist in numerous ensembles throughout Mexico. López’ extensive experience and education has provided him with expertise in traditional dances, history and costumes from the different regions of Mexico, and he is a skilled and enthusiastic teacher.