On July 17th 2010, Al Tapper's musical Sessions makes international history, becoming the first Off Broadway production ever to play in Guadalajara, Mexico's second largest city. The show, which will be performed in Spanish, will run throughout July and August.
The extraordinary collaboration between the two countries began when Mauricio Cedeno, one of Mexico's leading theatrical directors, came to see Sessions in New York during its fourteen month run at the Algonquin Theater. Cedeno was in New York researching the role of Sigmund Freud and happened upon the musical, which focuses on group therapy. He saw the potential of Sessions playing in Guadalajara, a city of more than five million people. He contacted producer Jason Hewitt and they began a long dialogue over how the show would work under Cedeno's direction and with actors from the city of Guadalajara.
Therapy is rare in Mexico and group therapy almost unheard of, but neither Tapper or Cedeno view that as a problem. "The issues in Sessions are universal," Tapper explained to the press of Guadalajara. "In every culture there is abuse, in every culture there is loneliness, in every culture there are problems between parents and children."
Cedeno agrees. "Guadalajara will embrace Sessions precisely because it is something they find unique and interesting. Peering into another world." Cedeno and Hewitt worked on a translation of the show which was true to the original but also comprehensive to Mexicans.
Certain American phrases and idioms were modified or changed so they could be fully understood by the audience in Guadalajara. Tapper, who wrote the book, music and lyrics to Sessions, was very impressed with how faithful the Mexican version was to the show that ran for more than 350 performances in New York. "It's virtually the same show," he said.
Evidence of how important the musical is to Guadalajara was shown in the swarm of media attention Tapper, Hewitt and co-producer Tony Sportiello received when they visited the city July 2nd and 3rd. Radio interviews, television interviews, online requests and a major press conference resulted in an unprecedented amount of coverage, including front page exposure on Guadalajara's two most important newspapers.
Cedeno hopes the success of Sessions in Guadalajara will lead to future collaborations between Mexico and the United States. "We have been thrilled with the support and friendship shown to us by our American counterparts and we would be very excited to work with them again on another project."
The cast includes Luis Greco, Sarah Nichols, Javier LaCroix, Sara Isabel Quintero, Eduardo Villapando, Lupita Angel, Dariela Vallejo, Rafael Paniagua, Franz Romthanley, Hector Flores and Dolores Sarre. It will be performed at Teatro CEPE.