Canto al Perú Negro… Celebrating Afro Peru!

GALA Hispanic Theatre
Canto al Perú Negro
…Celebrating Afro Peru!
An evening of music, poetry, dance, and sketches
Text by Gabriel García
Musical Direction by Yuri Juárez
Directed by Hugo Medrano
Translation by Heather McKay

Washington, D.C. – In recognition of the International Year of Peoples of African Descent, GALA concludes its 35th Anniversary Season with Canto al Perú Negro…Celebrating Afro Peru! Canto al Perú is directed by Hugo Medrano, GALA’s Founder and Producing Artistic Director, with text by Gabriel García, musical direction by Yuri Juárez and choreography by Aramis Pazos and Danilo Rivera. The production features Vicky Leyva and members of her family from Washington, DC and will run June 8 through June 26, 2011, at GALA Theatre, 3333 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20010. Parking is available at a discounted rate in the Giant garage on Park Road, NW. Additional parking is available at the Target garage also on Park Road, between 14th and 16th Streets.

Weaving together the music, poetry, history and contemporary experiences of Afro-Peruvians, Canto al Perú Negro revels in the rich cultural traditions and stories brought from Africa to Peru to the streets of DC. Featured in the cast are family members Vicky Leyva, Susan Duston, and Vanessa Díaz. Originally from Lima, Ms. Leyva was an early member of the world renowned group Perú Negro. Since moving to Washington in 1999, she has developed a significant career as a singer and advocate for the local Afro Peruvian community.

Performances are in Spanish with English surtitles on Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 pm, and Sundays at 3 pm. The Noche de GALA and Press Night is Saturday, June 11, 2011 at 8 pm. A reception with the artists hosted by the Embassy of Peru and M&T Bank will follow.

For this production, GALA is introducing special Wednesday performances on June 8, 15 and 25 at 8 pm. Community Day is Wednesday, June 8 with special $10 tickets made possible by Target.

The production is made possible with support from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, M&T Bank, and PEPCO. The Museo Afroperuano de Zaña-Chiclayo in Lima, Peru has donated a chacombo, a traditional musical instrument created from large gourds by Africans slaves brought to Peru, for the production.

GALA’s production of Canto al Perú Negro is presented in conjunction with the United Nations’ commemoration of 2011 as the International Year of Peoples of African Descent in efforts to eradicate racism worldwide against people of African descent and to promote greater respect for their diverse cultural heritage.


Gabriel García is an Argentine director, producer and writer for theater and film. His plays include The Sentence and La noche diaria, which received a staged reading at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He also wrote the book for Agustín Lara~ Boleros & Blues, which premiered at GALA in 2007. At GALA, he directed Las paredes, El ángel de la culpa, Así que pasen cinco años, Noche de los asesinos, and Los hermanos queridos. He has produced several documentaries in Central and South America for BBC, Telemundo, Univisión, CNN, Channel 13/Buenos Aires, WCVB(AB)/Boston and the American Red Cross. He received an Emmy for his documentary “The Promised Land,” and “Timeless,” a film about the Hispanic contribution to the independence of the United States, was presented at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004.


Featured in the cast is Vicky Leyva, who began her professional career in her native Peru as a dancer for the prestigious folkloric group, Perú Negro. Her singing career took off when she won the First Festival de la canción de la vendimia de Ica in 1980 and was recognized as the “Creole Discovery of the Year.” Musical recordings, television appearances, and international tours followed and she quickly became known as the “The Mulatta Flower of Peru, a name still used to describe her. Since moving to Washington, she was honored by “Buenos días, Peru” as the “Best Peruvian Singer” in the area and has appeared at GALA in several productions, including Latido negro-Peru’s African Beat, Candome: Tango Negro, Puerto Rico En…cantando, and Raíces cubanas II.

Also appearing in Canto al Perú Negro are Leyva family members Susan Duston, who was seen in México: Noche bohemias; and Vanessa Díaz, who is appearing at GALA for the first time. The cast also includes actors Anabel Marcano and Javier Terán, who appeared in La cándida Eréndira this season; and Bienvenido Martínez, who appeared in Almas gemelas. Making his first appearances at GALA are dancers José Manuel Ozuna Báez and Aramis Pazos. The internationally renowned Afro-Peruvian guitarist, Yuri Suárez, leads a stellar group of musicians, including Oscar Pérez (Keyboard), Christian Gonzáles (Bass), Jefferson Pajuelo (Cajón), Marciano González (Congas) and Martin Zúñiga (Bongos).

Director Hugo Medrano, GALA’s Founding Producing Artistic Director, has directed and performed in musicals, classical and contemporary plays in Argentina, Spain, Costa Rica, El Salvador, New York, Miami, and Washington. He has directed more than 100 productions, including the musicals Bola-Cuba’s King of Song, Caribeana Imperia, Candome: Tango Negro, Raíces cubanas I and II, Latido negro-Peru’s African Beat, and Brasil: As coisas do samba. He was nominated for a 2000 Helen Hayes Award for his direction of La dama boba, received a Helen Hayes Award nomination for his performance in El protagonista, and received the 1994 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actor for his role in Kiss of the Spider Woman. He studied at the Escuela de Teatro de La Plata in Buenos Aires and with Spanish directors José Luis Alonso, José Tamayo and Miguel Narros. He also directed and toured with his own children’s theatre company in Spain and throughout Europe.

Yuri Juárez (Musical Director) is a composer, arranger and guitarist born in Lima, Peru. He studied formally with Afro-Peruvian masters such as Pepe Torres, Alvaro Lagos and Jorge Madueñi, and has appeared and recorded with Eva Ayllón, Susana Baca, Chaqueta Piaggio, Eberlin Ortiz, Pilar de la Hoz, Gabriel Alegría Afro-Peruvian Sextet, Novalima, and Sin Líneas en el Mapa, among others. In 2008, he released his first album, Afroperuano, to great international acclaim.

Scenic design is by Mariana Fernández, who designed sets for Momia en el closet-The Return of Eva Perón. Lighting design is by Cory Ryan Frank, who designed Lúcido at GALA, and costumes are by Alicia Tessari Neiman, who designed costumes for El bosque de mis libros this season for GALita. Sound Design is by Brendon Vierra and Properties are by Sofía Gawer-Fische, who both designed for Divorciadas, evangélicas y vegetarianas. Movement Coach is Danilo Rivera, who choreographed for Bodas de sangre. Meredith Bailey is Stage Manager, Lorena Sabogal is Assistant Stage Manager; Andrés Holder is Production Manager; and Andrés Luque is Technical Director.


Single tickets are $34 on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, and $38 Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets for students, senior citizens (65+) and military are $20 (Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays) and $26 (Fridays and Saturdays). Additional discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. Tickets for Noche de GALA and Reception are $50 per individual, $90 per couple and $15 per subscriber.

FOR TICKETS: Call (800) 494-8497, (202) 234-7174, or visit


About Art(202)

Since 1968, the District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) has developed and promoted local artists, organizations and activities.
This entry was posted in Art in DC, Artists, Events and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Canto al Perú Negro… Celebrating Afro Peru!

  1. Pingback: Vicky Leyva y Teatro Gala presentan Canto al Perú Negro: Celebrating Afro Peru en Washington DC « Peruanista

  2. Pingback: Vicky Leyva en “Canto al Perú Negro: Celebrating Afro Peru” en Teatro Gala de Washington DC « Peruanista

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