Inspired by the 2005 novel, Zorro, by Isabelle Allende (itself a prequel to the events of the original Zorro story, the 1919 novella The Curse of Capistrano by Johnston McCulley), Zorro is a musical with music by the Gipsy Kings and John Cameron.
It also contains references to earlier Zorro-inspired work, especially the 1998 film, The Mask of Zorro, which starred Antonio Banderas and Anthony Hopkins. The female lead role, a Latina called Elena, was offered to Shakira (who I write about a lot, sorry) by Steven Spielberg, who turned it down because she was not confident in her acting ability or English-speaking skills (and whilst her English has improved massively, her acting, as seen in both Ugly Betty and The Wizards of Waverly Place, has not).
Another option was Salma Hayek. But in the end, the role went to Catherine Zeta-Jones. Who is excellent. But white. And Welsh. But let’s say no more about that.
Hope Mill, though, have wisely opted for an ethnically diverse cast, which include’s Blue’s Antony Costa as Garcia, reflecting the progressive values at the heart of their theatre. They put on loads of plays tackling topics such as race, class, gender and sexuality throughout the year, and I’m sure their adaptation of Zorro will embrace and celebrate diversity and difference.
The musical opened in Eastbourne in 2008, before transferring to the West End that same year, where it played for 9 months. It has since gone on to play all around the world, including a UK tour in 2011, but this will be its first professional performance in the UK since then.
The show has grossed over $70 million in ticket sales worldwide. It has also earned several awards and nominations, including the Laurence Olivier Awards for Best Actor for the show’s star, Matt Rawle, and for Best Supporting Performance in a Musical for Lesli Margherita.
The plot of the musical follows the masked hero, El Zorro, as he fights for justice and freedom. Set in 1805’s California, a pueblo is under attack from its autocratic leader, and only the titular masked crusader, who appears from nowhere and saves lives, can help them.
This is an immersive and thrilling new production, with passionate, ‘get-on-your-feet’ music by the Gipsy Kings, including international hits, such as ‘Bamoleo’, ‘Baila Me’ and ‘Djobi Djoba’, as well as original musical, to tell a fresh new tale of love, courage and spectacle.
According to Hope Mill:
“The show will see action spreading from the stage through the audience as they become part of the story and witness the thrills and spills of our hero as he battles for everything and everyone he holds dear. Spanish Gypsy pride and fire runs deep throughout the show with great flamenco choreography, Cante jondo singing, magic, music and, of course, sword fights.
The flavour and passion of Spain and 19th Century California comes to Hope Mill and will leave you with racing hearts, dancing on the tables, tasting the tapas and shouting out the name ‘El Zorro’!”
Zorro the Musical plays at Hope Mill Theatre from 14th of March until 18th of April.