After performing a play by the recently deceased Stephen Sondheim for months, Antonio Banderas changes of master of the musical and joins forces with Andrew Lloyd Webber to promote and take musical theater in Spanish throughout the world. Both have set up a company whose name is a nod to Barcelona 92, Amigos para siempre, and also the title of the song they commissioned from the British composer for the Olympic Games in Spain and which became a hit sung by Los Manolos.
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The friends here are him and Banderas, who have known each other for decades. The actor played Che in the film version of Evita, one of his musicals; and he even sang a theme from The Phantom of the Opera, one of Webber's most popular creations, at the legendary concert organized for his 50th anniversary in 1999. It was a matter of time before his paths would cross again. It was the composer who recently met him in London and told him about this project that he wants to take advantage of the entire Spanish-speaking public in Latin America and the US, where "in New York alone there are approximately 2.8 million Spanish-speakers", in addition to Spain, and offer first-rate shows that compete head-to-head with the West End or Broadway, as Banderas underlined in the project's presentation to the press.
It is a project that has just started, and that has not yet materialized into a specific first musical. What they are clear about is that it will be, initially, a repertory theater centered on the work of Andrew Lloyd Webber, which they will adapt again to Spanish, taking into account the specificities of each country, because in Banderas' opinion, one of the mistakes What is always committed is to bring the same adaptation either to Spain or to Argentina, without taking into account the expressions, idioms and accents.
In the list of projects that Webber has made available for this new adventure are: The Phantom of the Opera, Sunset Boulevard, Starlight Express, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cinderella, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and School of Rock, although they are moving forward that there will also be new creations by authors in Spanish. “We seek excellence”, the actor has said that he does not rule out directing some of the adaptations or even interpreting them. "Although for Che de Evita I'm already a little older", he has joked.
An excellence that “does not guarantee success, and that is one of the great things and the bad things about this profession”. “Doing it under these conditions is of particular interest to me, at a time when, in the face of all the great technologies, in the face of cinema, which I will always defend, theater is revived as an unchangeable fact. Whatever happens in the future, the theatrical fact is revalued. It's the purity of a group of people telling or singing a story, and that's a wonderful thing. Already when I decided to return to the theater, which were my beginnings, I questioned this, that saturation of audiovisual spaces. And in that context Andrew has arrived and of course I have accepted the possibility of playing”.
Webber was "impressed by the quality" of Company's version in Malaga and there he thought that they could create "productions for a worldwide audience in Spanish." An adventure that he has described as "exciting" since he has recognized that the public in Spanish has not always been taken care of and this is the way to deliver that "excellence" that both artists have underlined. He has also opined that “the theater has changed” and that people don't want to “go see an old theatre”, but are looking for “a complete experience”. He has seen it in the theater on Drury Lane, which he has recently restored and where people go both to the restaurant or to have a drink and to see the plays. Although yes, “the most important thing is that there is something good on stage”.
Faced with the cinema, which I will always defend, the theater revives as an unchangeable fact. Whatever happens in the future, the theatrical event is revalued
Antonio Banderas — Actor and theater director
Banderas even considers that he became an actor because of "the enormous influence and strong impression" he experienced when he saw Andrew Lloyd Webber's musicals. "Having the opportunity to work again with one of the most respected and admired composers of all time, offering his magnificent works to an audience in Spanish, is one of the most outstanding achievements of my career in the entertainment world", has added and has asked to "remove that rancid flavor from the theater".
The one that is not currently on the list of projects to be developed is Cats, one of Webber's most successful works that experienced a disastrous musical adaptation for which the author has not had very good words. “I hate her”, he said bluntly and told a story to finish: “There is an American airline where you can take a dog if you have a justified reason, such as for some therapy because you get nervous or for whatever, but you need a letter from a doctor. I made the request, and where I put the reason to bring the dog I put: 'The Cats movie'. The airline's response was that I didn't even need a doctor's justification."