GALA’s ‘She Is Tango’ to highlight women composers and singers

'Ella es tango,' a sizzling musical revue, will sidestep what’s male-dominated.

Tango—called by one Argentinian tango instructor “a caricature of the patriarchy”—will dance to a distaff tune in GALA Hispanic Theatre’s Ella es tango (She Is Tango), a sizzling original musical revue highlighting the contribution of women composers and singers to this world-beloved but traditionally male-dominated genre. Created and directed by Hugo Medrano, GALA’s producing artistic director, with assistance from Claudio Aprile, Ella es tango will honor the end of GALA’s 45th-anniversary season and be performed for in-person audiences in keeping with strict DC safety precautions.

Musical direction and orchestration are by Sergio Busjle of the Pan American Symphony Orchestra; the conductor is Argentine composer Ariel Pirotti; choreography is by Argentine dancers Rosalía and Alejandro Barrientos; singers are Argentine Mariana Quinteros and Patricia Torres. Texts are by Argentine playwright Patricia Suárez Cohen.

Alejandro and Rosalía Barrientos in ‘Ella es tango (She Is Tango).’ Photo courtesy of GALA Hispanic Theatre.

Ella es tango explores the overlooked contributions of talented, strong, and witty female artists who both composed and sang unforgettable songs. The show features interpretations of pioneers Tita Merello, Libertad Lamarque, Camila Quiroga, and Azucena Maizani, who had the vision to create songs in different vocal ranges and use body language techniques that revolutionized the way tango had been displayed until then. Their innovations contributed to the explosion of tango during its golden years and opened the doors for future female powerhouses in tango artistry.

“In an originally male-dominated genre such as tango, women moved slowly into the field by singing tangos with inuendo or double meaning,” states Medrano. “They hid their femininity, dressing up like men, and becoming part of a bigger spectacle such as a sainete. Many of them transcended hunger, injustice, and social barriers through their voices and songs. Each one has a unique style and a particular branding that clearly identifies them, making them relevant over time.”

Ella es tango will run live June 2 through 20, 2021, at GALA Theatre, 3333 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC. Ella es tango is performed in Spanish with English surtitles Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm. Noche de GALA is Saturday, June 5, 2021, at 8 pm, under the patronage of the GALA Board of Directors.  GALA is opening up its stage for a limited number of couples to dance milongas after the show on Wednesdays.

Reservations are necessary through June 10, as only 66 patrons will be seated. Starting June 11, GALA will begin to operate at full capacity and reservations are highly encouraged. The wearing of masks is required throughout the run. Single tickets are $45. Noche de GALA are $50 each. Senior (65+), student, and military tickets are $30. Groups (10+) are $30. To purchase tickets, call 202-234-7174 or visit Tickets are also available on Goldstar and TodayTix.

GALA has four wheelchair-accessible spaces and an elevator to transport people from the entrance to the lobby, and to the house. 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.

Marcos Pereira and Florencia Borgnia in ‘Ella es tango (She Is Tango).’ Photo courtesy of GALA Hispanic Theatre.


Ella es tango is conceived and directed by Hugo Medrano, GALA’s Founding Producing Artistic Director. The longest-serving artistic director in the Washington region, he has directed and performed in classical and contemporary plays in Argentina, Spain, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Cuba, New York, Miami, and Washington for over 46 years. He has directed over 125 theater productions and numerous musical revues, including two previous tango revues, Puro Tango and Puro Tango 2; Perú Negro, El Bola-Cuba’s King of Song, Caribeana Imperia; Candombe: 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.

Claudio Aprile, Assistant Director, is a well-known director and actor from Buenos Aires whose most recent show, La virgen del colibrí, is currently on stage at the Teatro Padrón. Musical Direction and Arrangements are by Sergio Buslje, founder and director of the Pan American Symphony Orchestra (PASO) — the only symphonic tango orchestra in the United States. Featured in the production are outstanding artists from Argentina and the U.S. Alejandro Barrientos and Rosalía Barrientos, choreographers and dancers, travel around the world as part of tango festivals, regularly perform with PASO, and teach tango at the dance studio of acclaimed dancer from the TV show “Dancing with the Stars,” Karina Smirnoff. Joining the Barrientos as dancers are finalists in the World Tango Championship (2017, 2018, and 2019) Marcos Pereira and Florencia Borgnia. Tango singers are Miami-based artist Mariana Quinteros, whose album “Carmín” has been a success in Argentina and in Florida, U.S.A.; and Patricia Torres who won the First Prize at the Hugo del Carril Contest in Buenos Aires (2006) and Honor Mention at the Medellín Tango Festival in 2018.

The three live musicians from the Pan American Symphony Orchestra are 2018 Latin Grammy award-winning (album “Vigor Tanguero” by Pedro Giraudo) bandoneón player Rodolpho Zanetti, renowned teacher and concertmaster Diana LeGrand on the violin, and former member of the U.S. Army Band (Pershing’s Own) Pete Ostle on obass. Directly from Argentina, the conductor and pianist is 2017 Latin Grammy nominee and tango music teacher Ariel Pirotti.

The cast features GALA company members Lorena Sabogal (Libertad Lamarque), who last appeared in El tiempo de las mariposas, and Krystal Pou (Camila), last seen in Dancing in My Cockroach Killers. Patricia Suárez Cohen (Tita Merello), Cecilia Esquivel (Azucena Maizani), and Claudio Aprile (Various men’s roles) are making their debut at GALA.

Scenic design is by Clifton Chadick, who designed sets for La tía Julia y el escribidor and El perro del hortelano this season, the Helen Hayes award-winning Fame, and Exquista Agonía. Lighting design is by Christopher Annas-Lee, who received a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lighting Design for GALA’s In The Heights en Español, and designed lighting for Exquisite Agony and Fame. Projections are by Dylan Uremovich, and Nicolas Onischuk oversees Additional Media. Costumes are by Jeannette Christensen, who designed GALA’s recent El perro del hortelano. Sound design is by David Crandall, who designed La tía Julia y el escribidor and El perro del hortelano this season. Stage Manager is P. Vanessa Losada and Tony Koehler is Production Manager.

This production is made possible with generous support from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.


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