Yale Summer Cabaret is Full “Swing” – Bonnie Goldberg

Danilo Gambini is part of a triumvirate that includes Jecamiah M. Ybanez and Estefani Castro, the three fearless leaders, the trio of Artistic Directors, who are responsible for this summer’s Yale Cabaret. Titled ”Verano,” which means summer in Spanish, they have fashioned a four part line up of shows where they encourage you, the audience, to laugh, to cry and to fall in love.

Now, at the half way mark in the season, you are invited to join a playground in the park to romp on a swing with the animal characters in Brazilian writer Jorge Amado’s whimsical children’s novel “The Swallow and the Tomcat.”

Danilo Gambini’s association with the charming story dates back years to a fateful bus ride he was taking in his native Brazil, from Rio de Janeiro to San Paulo. Reading the tale of the bird and the cat had such a profound effect on him that he cried for a half hour after finishing it. The book was never meant to be published. It was penned by Amado as a gift to his one year old son.

Years later, the son, now a grown up, found the book and begged his father to publish it. Only after the son had watercolor illustrations added did the father relent. Danilo Gambini found the book “unbalanced, free , careless in a beautiful way” and has searched for a way to honor it by presenting it on the stage.

Gambini had seen two versions which were poorly executed and “dumbed down for the audiences” in an unsatisfying way. Now as a third year student, a Directing M. F. A. candidate at the Yale School of Drama, he has the unique opportunity to direct “The Swallow and the Tomcat” in his own vision in collaboration with Dramaturg/Adapter Emily Sorensen.

Calling it a ”complicated big challenge,” he has translated the tale from Spanish to English, had original tunes composed by Solon Snider, Composer and Music Director, that are beautifully sung and clever costuming without animal fur or feathers designed by Stephanie Bahniuk.

Come by Saturday, July 27 to meet this menagerie that includes Adrienne Wells as the Owl, Morning and Papa Duck, Anula Naviekar as Toad, Daddy Swallow and Nightingale, Dario Ladani Sanchez as Cow, Wind and Vulture, Julian Sanchez as Priest Parrot ,Mommy Swallow, Freud the Mole and Don Juan, Reed Northrup as Tomcat and Mamma Duck and Zoe Mann as Pigeon and Swallow.

Tomcat has a bad rap in the neighborhood. Whatever goes wrong, from crushed flowers to stolen baby birds, he is blamed. But is he the selfish, evil creature the community accuses him of being? Only Swallow has a unique perspective on his personality. Could there be a spark of friendship or even love between them?

The Yale Summer Cabaret team also includes Oakton Reynolds, Managing Director, Martin Montaner V., Director of Production, Laura Cornwall, Box Office Associate, Olivia Louise Tree Plath, Stage Manager, Emily Duncan Wilson, Sound Designer and Music Director, Evan Anderson, Lighting Designer and Elsa Gibsonbraden, Scenic Designer. Each production in the basement of 217 Park Street, New Haven is reconfigured to accommodate the play. One week your waiter may be taking your meal order and the next you might see him on center stage. That is the beauty of the cabaret: its inventiveness and surprises.

Director Danilo Bambini invites you onto the garden path to discover answers for yourself in this family fable. Call 203-432-1567 or go online to summercabaret.org for tickets ($29, Yale faculty $19, student $16, child $8) to performances Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m., Saturday at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. This production has been open for school groups and children’s camps.

Come early (6:30p.m. for 8 p.m. shows) and enjoy tasty offerings by the Queen of Tarts Catering, like Panko Fried Zucchini ($8), Chicken Milanese ($18) and Gluten Free Molten Chocolate Cake ($9). The menu will change for the next production August 8-17 of “Latinos Who Look Like Ricky Martin” by Emilio Rodriguez and directed by Jecamiah M. Ybanez. Performances are Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. and Saturday at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.

This summer one of the focuses of the season is the struggle for Latinx representation. This final offering is a fresh, clever comedy that questions identity and authenticity.

Since 1968, Yale School of Drama students have been using theater as a healing balm, as a dialogue starter, as a challenging stick to grow through art. This season is especially dedicated to the Latinx community on a regional to international level with the goal of connecting through compassion, understanding, conversation and caring.

Come experience this lively troupe of actors as they charm you into this bittersweet tale of love and reconciliation in this beautiful neighborhood. Be sure to return in August for the Ricky Martin look-alike contest.

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