October 6-29, 2022
The history-making encounter of Black and Puerto Rican musician-soldiers in 1917
Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater’s 2022-23 Mainstage Season kicks off with a new staging of Harlem Hellfighters on a Latin Beat, a rousing Latinx musical play developed under the leadership of award-winning director and dramaturg Rosalba Rolón and composer Desmar Guevara. It is the story of extraordinary valor and musicianship that made the 369th Infantry of the New York Army National Guard the most celebrated regiment of the World War One era. As the U.S. prepares to enter armed struggle, genius bandleader and conductor James Reese Europe assembles an all-Black regimental band of unprecedent high caliber. Now firmly established as a point of pride in African American history, it is less known that Lieut. Europe recruited 17 of his illustrious musician-soldiers in Puerto Rico, among them the great Rafael Hernández and Rafael Duchesne.
“A main source for the dramatic through-line came from the memoirs written by Noble Sissle, who was James Reese Europe’s good friend,” says Rolón. “It gave me cues for a framing story and two important musical numbers. My expertise is in adaptations, and I believe that a good adaptation has to contribute something new. Lifting the Puerto Rican lives that played such a central role in the Harlem Hellfighters’ regimental band and their history tour of duty and back is that innovation. The new staging is heartful and joyous, abundant with the plural forces and meanings that shape real lives.”
CAST & CHARACTERS:
José Joaquín García is Rafael Hernández
Anna Malavé is Victoria Hernández
Jesús E. Martínez is Rafael Duchesne
Claudia Ramos Jordán is Diana Yager
Pat D. Robinson is Col. Hayward / Gov. Yager
Calvin M. Thompson is James Reese Europe
THE HELLFIGHTERS BAND:
Charles Barber on trumpet
Álvaro Benavides on bass
Anthony Carrillo on percussion
Desmar Guevara on piano
Camilo Molina-Gaetán on drums
Raymond Flores on trombone
Jonathan Cosme on clarinet
Performed in English and Spanish with titles.
Duration: 105 minutes, including one intermission.
In-person performances at
THE PUERTO RICAN TRAVELING THEATER
304 W 47th St, between 8th & 9th Avenues
Buy your tickets early online. Link below or at top of page.
GENERAL TICKETS: Starting at $30
ONLINE or by PHONE at 718-585-1202