By Ewa Procter (*)
With the purpose of once again reviewing a musical for my readers, this time I am bringing you an homage to Renato Russo.
An important personality in Brazilian popular music, he was both a singer and a composer. Maybe “Renato Russo, o Musical” cannot even be classified as a pocket show, because there is only one actor/singer on stage, although accompanied during the entire performance by the Banda Arte Profana who play live in the background.
During the time I have been writing my articles you have probably noticed that there are a lot of Brazilian musicals that use singers and composers as a basis for their work. I quote “Milton Nascimento (October, 2012), “Elis, A Musical” (January, 2014), “Cazuza – Pro Dia Nascer Feliz” (March, 2014), “Andança” (October, 2015), “Gilberto Gil, Aquele Abraço” (August/September, 2016), “Eu Não Posso Lembrar Que Te Amei” (August, 2017), and more recently “Bibi – Uma Vida Em Musical (February, 2018).
This one is also a rather biographical show. “Renato Russo, o Musical” is an interesting experience for those who have enjoyed the songs of this artist in the past and also for those who are not familiar with whom he was. It brings a bird’s eye view of the works of Russo, showing different aspects of his life and career, starting from his childhood and going through his later successes, until his untimely death at the age of 36.
Born Renato Manfredini Júnior (1960-1996), Renato used the pseudonym Russo, as homage both to Bertrand Russell and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, as well as to Henri Rousseau. In this musical, or rather one man show, a large number of Renato Russo’s songs are played by the Banda Arte Profana, and sung live by Bruce Gomlevsky, the only actor on stage. It is very interesting to observe that Gomlevsky looks very much like Russo himself – and this may be a part of the success in his performance! And he works very hard to achieve his goal, as Renato Russo himself did. Here I quote Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) when he said: “Art is a jealous mistress”.
This is, by no means, a new play. It has already had several runs in Rio de Janeiro theatres. Even for me, it was not a novelty, because I saw it at the Centro Cultural dos Correios when it opened a few years ago. However, I did not want to miss the chance of seeing it again, as I enjoyed it very much when I watched it for the first time. Daniela Pereira de Carvalho wrote the script, where the direction by Mauro Mendonça Filho, and the musical direction by Marcelo Alonso Neves, give Gomlevsky the chance of using all his stage experience when portraying Renato Russo.
Although he had a short life, Renato Russo was the founder of two important bands: the Aborto Elétrico, at the beginning of his career; and then the Legião Urbana where he made his name, both as a singer and a composer. Legião Urbana, a Brazilian rock band founded in Brasília, was active between 1982 and 1996, presenting shows and recording a variety of songs during all those years. On the 22nd of October, eleven days after its founder and leader died, Legião Urbana came to an end! The other musicians, who were a part of this band, continued and pursued their own solo careers.
“Renato Russo, O Musical” plays at the Teatro Net Rio, Rua Siqueira Campos, 143 – 2nd floor – Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro. Telephone: 2147-8060. It is a short run: the play opened on the 17th of May, and will finish on the 10th of June. Performances take place on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 9:00 P.M. and on Sundays at 6:00 P.M. Ticket prices range from R$ 100,00 (one hundred Reais) to R$ 120,00 (one hundred and twenty Reais), with a 50% (fifty percent) discount for students and senior citizens. There is also a discount for people who have Net cable TV: but then one has to bring the paid invoice! The Teatro Net is very comfortable, and it seats 623 people; there are also special seats, including some for overweight patrons and for those with special needs. It lasts for 120 minutes, with one interval. Censorship is for young people under the age of twelve. The theatre has a small café where you can have snacks and refreshments before the performance. There is also paid parking in the building. And the metro station (Siqueira Campos) is half a block away.
So, if you enjoy rock, either Brazilian or international, this is a show that you will certainly enjoy!
(*) Ewa Procter is a writer and a theatre translator, and
Chair of the Instituto Cultural Chiquinha Gonzaga.