I have been in a lot of unexpected places since our move to Mexico – atop ruins, in underground caves, and even in Cuba. One place I never, ever thought we’d end up at? A high school musical. Personally I love a good song and dance, at least when someone else is doing all the singing and dancing, I mean I still regularly watch Glee. Jason on the other hand would probably prefer to clean the gutters or reupholster the couch or, well, do just about anything other than attend a Broadway musical. And I’d actually have bet money that he wouldn’t be caught dead at musical theater of any sort unless we were related to someone in the show. But recently there we were, watching and listening to the Elton John and Tim Rice musical Aida. In Spanish no less. And not a single one of our nieces or nephews were on the stage.
So how did we end up there? There is a local school here called Explayarte that is focused on promoting and strengthening the arts in Playa del Carmen. The core belief of Explayarte’s founders is that getting teenagers to perform on stage greatly boosts their confidence and opens their eyes to new experiences. That confidence and experience are instrumental (see what I did there?) in shaping their lives and provide them with opportunities they would not have had otherwise. They are described as a music school but they do so much more than that – they provide education and training in music, theater and dance as well as set building, lighting and audio engineering. Once a year the high school kids who attend the school put on series of performances of a particular show. We wholeheartedly support the mission of this school and arts education in general. I think it’s one of the things that gets cut first, and often, from the budget so I wanted to support a group that is actively working to foster artistic talent in the young ‘uns (I’m pretty sure that just made me sound ancient). Last year Explayarte put on Les Miserables and I had heard nothing but great things about it so Jason’s fear of musical theater aside we went ahead picked up tickets for this year’s performance of Aida.
The great thing about this production is that it wasn’t held in a high school auditorium. No, we’ve learned that going to a show in Mexico is never as common as that. Instead, they performed in an outdoor theater at Xcaret, the local cultural adventure park here in Playa. Which means the set was located at the entrance to a cave. Not your ordinary theater experience and a pretty spectacular way to watch a show.
I was not really familiar with the plot of Aida, although I didn’t make the mistake of someone else in our group who thought we were actually going to see Evita, and after watching the show I’m still not sure I can tell you everything that happened (must keep working on Spanish lessons). But best I could tell it was about an ancient Egyptian love triangle. Think Romeo and Juliet with pyramids, sphinxes and some awfully impressive headdresses.
So no relatives to cheer on, but the setting was nothing short of spectacular, the kids sang, danced and acted their hearts out for us – I think, did I mention it was in Spanish? – we got another interesting experience and contributed to the future of Explayarte. And while Jason still isn’t ready anytime soon to watch Glee with me, I’m guessing he never will be ready for that, I’m pretty sure he ended up having a good time.