Two decades and countless hours now brings ‘La Casa Azul’ to life

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By Anna Skinner

Gregory Hancock’s product of almost 20 years of work is finally coming to life.

Jessica Crum Hawkins will be playing Frida Kahlo in the musical. (Submitted photo)

Jessica Crum Hawkins will be playing Frida Kahlo in the musical. (Submitted photo)

“La Casa Azul” is a musical that is completely sung through. Lyrics, choreography, costumes and music are all done by Hancock.

The musical explores the life and work of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo

Hancock said this production has taken months to plan and create.

“It is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Hancock said. “We don’t debut musicals in Indiana very often, if ever, on this kind of a scale. It’s going to be a great production and it involves art, music, history, culture, spirituality, dance and theater. It’s really encompassing of a lot of things so it has a wide appeal to a lot of people.”

Recently, Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre produced “Superhero: The story of a man called Jesus,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Joan of Ark” and more. However, “La Casa Azul” is more of Hancock’s own project, not the dance company’s.

“As Gregory mentioned, musicals don’t happen every day and new musicals are a rare thing, and for it to happen in Indiana, this is very news worthy,” Dheepa Maturi, a member of the board of directors, said. “People might not get a chance to see something like this again in their lifetime. I think they should come and experience what it is. All of Gregory’s productions are very lush and beautiful, and people are able to immerse themselves in this different space and time.”

Hancock and Maturi encourage anyone in the city with even a passing interest in arts to come and see the show, because they said there will be something for everyone instigated in the production.

“It’s like seeing your vision come to life,” Hancock said. “For me it’s become very personal, I’ve had a challenging 16 months and it’s taken on a very personal aspect for me of why I need to do this as something I sort of have to do for me and my family.”

Hancock recently battled cancer, lost a kidney, won his battle with cancer, lost a friend and a neighbor in a murder-suicide and then lost his mother in September, a person he said who was extremely involved in his work.

“Sometimes when things like that happen to you, you have a different reason for wanting to do things and needing to accomplish things. You want to leave something durable. I want the legacy of my mother and my family to perpetuate that,” he said.

There are some parallels happening between Hancock’s challenges and pain that mirrors what Frida Kahlo’s life was about.

“She went through such terrible tragedies and tried to overcome so many things, yet in the end there’s this beautiful art that she was able to produce and I am very confident that this is what Gregory is doing,” Maturi said. “The result is going to be gorgeous.”

“It feels like I’m trying to take all this pain and sorrow and turn it into something beautiful,” Hancock said.

There are dancers, actors, singers and musicians on stage to help bring the show together.

“La Casa Azul” will be performed at the Tarkington at the Center for the Performing Arts, June 25-28. It will be performed at 7 p.m. on the evenings and 3 p.m. on Sunday.

They are expecting more than 2,000 people to be in attendance of the show.

To purchase tickets, call 843-3800. Additional information can be found at www.gregoryhancockdancetheatre.org.

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