Last year, Peter Regalado and his company, Exor Production, took over the struggling Cuba Nostalgia event. The event at the Fair Center Expo went from averaging 3,000 guests to attracting 22,000 in 2019. Regalado was hoping to keep the momentum going this summer, but the pandemic put a stop to large gatherings.
So Regalado resolved to come up with a different way to showcase Cuban heritage in a safe yet entertaining way.
“We couldn’t do Cuba Nostalgia this year because of COVID-19,” Regalado tells New Times. “So while I was at home with my wife, I started thinking of another way to put on an event about Cuba.”
Regalado was born on the island, but his Cuban-American wife was born in Miami. That disconnect in their relationship inspired the idea for a full-length dinner show centered on a young couple falling in love — one half of the pair born in Miami while the other grew up in Havana.
Which brings us to Cuba Under the Stars, which premieres at the Fair Expo Center on Thursday, December 10.
“The two main characters are basically my wife and I,” Regalado admits. “I’m very Cuban — I love Cuban music and the culture. She’s Cuban-American, but she knows about Cuban music because of me.”
With the help of co-producer Miguel Ferro and a team of writers, Regalado completed the script for a two-hour show featuring musical numbers, a live orchestra, and a good, old-fashioned love story.
“It’s a love story about a couple that go on their first date to a cabaret,” says Regalado. “The whole play centers around the couple and him having her enjoy the Cuban culture through music, through the food. It takes you through the whole story of our culture. And if you didn’t know about Cuban music before, you’re going to learn a lot.”
The cast includes some familiar faces, including Grethel Ortiz (¿Qué Pasa, USA?) and Jeffry Batista (Critical Thinking and The Amparo Experience).
As the show’s title implies, the event will take place outdoors. To accommodate that wrinkle, Regalado and his crew built an outdoor structure complete with shipping containers encasing the space to keep December winds from knocking things over.
The producer also assures that all necessary precautions are being taken in light of the pandemic. Staff is required to wear facemasks at all times — even the actors, except while on stage — tables will be spaced six feet apart, and sanitizing stations will be located throughout the venue. Arriving guests will be screened and have their temperatures checked before being escorted to the cocktail bar located underneath a spacious tent. Though the tent can hold up to 600 people, capacity will be limited to about 300; guests will also have the option to head straight to their tables.
Attendees will also walk through a lavish replica of the popular Cuban theater El Payret's entrance.
“Once inside, there’s a whole plaza scene, and you’re surrounded by all these Cuban building façades," Regalado adds. "You’re truly going to feel like you’re in Cuba yourself.”
Dinner is included in the price of admission and is served during the show. Regarding that collaboration with celebrity chef Ana Quincoces, Regalado promises nostalgic Cuban dishes, including croquetas and dishes served in a the shallow earthenware cooking vessels known as cazuelas.
“Some people are comparing it to Tropicana in Cuba, which is a completely outdoors cabaret show,” Regalado says. “The only difference is we have a storyline behind it. And it’s a beautiful story.”
Cuba Under the Stars. Thursday, December 10, through February 28, 2021, at Fair Expo Center, 10901 SW 24 St., Miami; cubaunderthestars.com. Performances run from 7 to 10:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Tickets cost $80 to $125 via eventbrite.com.
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