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Review: Mojito

Adelaide Fringe

Mojito is a joyous celebration of Spanish, Latino and Cuban music styles performed by a stellar cast of singers and musicians under the guidance of producer/pianist Brendan Fitzgerald. ★★★★

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Welcomed by the young Ernest Hemingway – a suitably tongue-in-cheek performance from Ben Gatehouse – we are introduced to the Mojito (cocktail) as well as the Grupo Mojito (band) in his favourite Cuban bar, as friends gather for the evening. Hemingway is the glue that guides the story through this stunning musical feast of cool grooves and passionate vocals.

Adelaide chanteuse Charmaine Jones-Devasagayam and Spanish singer Nancy Ruth alternate lead vocal duties, before charismatic café owner Pepe (Christian Cifuentes) takes to the stage. “I own the place but they always want me to sing!” he explains.

It soon becomes apparent that there might be a little jealousy issue between the two senoritas and Pepe might have a tricky girl/boy/girl situation to deal with. Meanwhile, Hemingway is trying his luck with the long-suffering waitress Rosa (Diana Scalzi), who is more interested in the guitarist. Passions run high as the drama unfolds…

As well as the star turns from the vocal leads, there are stunning solo breaks from the musicians – trumpeter Lazaro Numa (Cuba), pianist Fitzgerald, guitarist Alain Vālodze and bassist Juan Soto (Spain). Also providing backing vocals, Scalzi manages to squeeze in a sultry solo dance sequence as well as a clever pas de deux, fending off the annoying Hemingway.

But the show belongs to Jones-Devasagayam and Ruth, power and passion in English and Spanish being the hallmarks of their performances. Classic songs such as “Oye Como Va”, “Quizas, Quizas, Quizas”, “Bésame Mucho” and even Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love” had the audience totally involved.

The storyline seems to peter out, largely unresolved, at the end, but as a musical and visual treat, Mojito is highly recommended.

Four stars

Mojito has its final performance tonight (Monday) in the Magic Mirror Spiegeltent at the Garden of Unearthly Delights.

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