Panama’s gift to the world

A musical about Panama — with all-Panamanian cast and crew but performed in English. How hard could it be?

Some five years ago, dreaming big dreams with friends around their pool in Santa Clara, T. Rob Brown and Yolanda Van Der Kolk pondered this question. We all laughed and took a dip.

Panama: The Musical is the realization of their seemingly impossible dream. And what a reality it is!

Sitting in the comfortable Teatro Atheneo just across from the Miraflores locks, one might imagine that we were in New York or London. The music, lyrics, lighting, choreography, direction and stagecraft are were all first class — astonishing for a first public performance. Everyone involved should be very proud of what they have created.

Panama: The Musical has a very bright future — around the world.
But Panamanian talent is the real story of this this musical showcase.

Melody (Alexandra Cordoba) and her mother Lacy (Gabby Gnazzo, a well known Panamanian media personality)struggle against the winds of fortune. Melody’s true love Tito (Julio Barsallo), is spirited away to New York by the evil plans of Casino owner Eddie Machete (Randy Dominguez). Eddie, “What I want is what I get,” is a superb villain, foiling the romantic plans of Melody and Tito.

Eddie Machete plans his evil deeds

Among the very talented cast, two actresses stole the hearts of the audience:

Harmony, played by twelve year old Yael Danon, delivered one of the most polished performances of all, acting and singing like a pro. In years to come, we can all say we saw her when.

Emely Myles as Yavida stole the singing show with her downright fabulous gospel singer’s voice. Everyone wanted to hear more and I trust that we will.

Harmony and Yavida

The choreography and music also deserve a very special mention. With 21 people on stage and 38 behind the scenes, the intricate singing and dancing numbers were spectacular, detailed and amazingly precise. The musical score and performance was brilliant and polished. Director Monalisa Arias and music director Dino Nugent are consummate Panamanian professionals whose work helps lift Panama: The Musical into the pantheon of world class theater.

Every one of the songs in Panama: The Musical is brand new to the world, the product of a potent collaboration between Yolanda Van Der Kolk-Brown, her niece Tara Van Der Kolk and T. Rob Brown himself. Already their lyrics are beginning to win awards, and their creative efforts are still in full swing.

T. Rob Brown and Yolanda Van Der Kolk aren’t afraid to dream big dreams and then make them happen

With a Panamanian story, words in English and fabulous music, dancing and singing, Panama: The Musical will be enjoyed by audiences world wide. Tours are already planned for Canada and England. China has expressed an interest and New York is not out of the question.

Panama: The Musical is a living, breathing, organism of human actors, actresses, choreographers, musicians, writers and directors. It will continue to grow and evolve over the early stages of its life.

We are privileged to witness its young life here in Panama before it moves out into to the world. The next major opening will be on Feburary 22, running through March 4.

For complete information about show times and ticket purchases visit the Panama: The Musical website.

For more photos from the opening night, just click here

Panama: The Musical is truly Panama’s gift to the world.

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