A Broadway musical opens in Havana for the first time in 50 years

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Aaron Schachter: “Seasons of Love” from the Broadway hit musical, Rent. The Tony Award-winning show had a 12-year run on Broadway and it was one of the most successful musicals ever. Rent has been performed in theaters all over the globe except Cuba. But that’s changing. Tonight, Rent opens in Havana. It’s been a long time since a Broadway show hit the stage in Cuba. Try over 50 years. That’s because of the US embargo. We don’t know for sure what the last Broadway hit in Havana was, but in 1960--


Carol Rosenberg: The musical Broadway hits were the Sound of Music, about a family using music to flee the Nazis, and Gypsy, about a stripper.


Schachter: That’s Miami Herald reporter Carol Rosenberg. Now, the idea of staging Rent in Cuba has been in the works for at least a couple of months, well before President Obama’s surprise announcement last week on US-Cuba relations.


Rosenberg: I think it was more like fortuitous timing. This thing was fully licensed and in production before President Obama announced the normalization of relations. I think it’s part of a larger softening in the mood on both sides of the Florida Straits.


Schachter: And, as Carol Rosenberg says, this production is really a collaborative effort.


Rosenberg: So, the director comes from Miami, he’s Cuban-American, and he actually starred in Rent on Broadway and went down there a couple of months ago and hired an all-Cuban 15-member cast. He said musical theater was a lost art there, so he found some great singers who he had to teach to dance, and he found some dancers who could sing.


Schachter: And the price of a ticket? Ten Cuban pesos, or about fifty cents. Not bad considering the seats at a Broadway musical go for about $125 and up. You can watch the Cuban cast of Rent rehearsing this song at PRI.ORG.