REVIEW Vamos Cuba! at Birmingham Hippodrome

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From the team that brought you smash-hit Havana Rakatan, Vamos Cuba! brings an exotic taste of Latin culture to the Birmingham Hippodrome, with its vibrant mix of traditional and contemporary music and dance.

Set in the chaotic Havana airport, the scene opens with a flamboyant display of colour and bustling energy as the cast are introduced through playful dance sequences. From a duty-bound doctor, to an actress and her assistant; each performer enters the stage with a routine tailored to their character’s personality.

Seductive and sassy meets busy and brooding, as everyone gathers around the departure screen waiting to board the flight to Miami. Sashaying side to side, the contemporary rhythm builds an excited atmosphere as the passengers gleefully dance their way around the stage, exchanging humorous glances and cheeky interactions until the news of delay hits.

Stranded with no set time for take-off, the group decide to share stories, memories, hopes and regrets- which are all played out through song, dance and projected images. Touching on the history of both passenger and country, scenes flash back to lost youth cabaret acts and the Cuban revolution; lending an emotional touch to the generally upbeat production.

Bringing an authentic edge to musicals, the show is created entirely in Spanish (apart from the odd announcement of flight updates), which unfortunately makes the plot extremely difficult to follow. With no context, the performance seems to take some unexpected turns and leaves its English speaking audience wondering about the story’s direction.

Thanks to Nilda Guerra’s choreography, there was a good variety of impressive manoeuvres  and dance styles, ranging from salsa, mambo and rumba, to cha-cha-cha and reggaeton, but what really stole the show was the exceptional vocals from singers Geidy Chapman and Maikel Ante.

Transporting theatregoers into the exuberant world of Latin and Caribbean music, Vamos Cuba is filled with a lively display of patriotism and traditional dance. For those favouring light-hearted entertainment over plot-heavy productions, its raw and energised spirit is sure to delight.

Vamos Cuba! runs at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday November 5. Show times: Tue – Sat Eves 7.30pm, Wed Mat 2pm, Sat Mat 2.30pm.

Words: Emma Walsh

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