<i>Cambaio</i>: still under construction

Pop-opera with excellent music written by Chico Buarque & Edu Lobo opens in São Paulo with unfinished text

Carlos Calado
The presence of São Paulo mayor, Marta Suplicy, at the Sesc Vila Mariana theater on Friday night indicated the magnitude of what was about to be heard and seen onstage. It is not usual that a regular audience will accompany the official opening of a production like Cambaio, which allies the musical talent of Chico Buarque, Edu Lobo and Lenine to theater director João Falcão's and writer Adriana Falcão's experience.

As if it were the opening night of a big concert, the audience comprised of guests interrupted the performance a few times to applaud the new songs written by Chico and Edu. The crowd not only clapped, by also turned toward the chairs where the songwriters were sitting - to clap some more. Songs like the romantic A Moça do Sonho and the waltz Uma Canção Inédita or the vibrating Cambaio prove that the two are still in perfect tuning, when it comes to articulate melodies and lyrics.

Director João Falcão found a nice definition for the show - pop-opera - but he inflated his own credit upon denying being influenced by Broadway musicals. Some features in Cambaio do recall Hair or Godspel. The impression is reinforced by the costumes, hair cuts, electric guitars and rock approach of some of the arrangements.

Electronic noise
Not by chance, a brochure handed out at the entrance states that the show is not ready yet. The impact of the new songs, the soundtrack performed live by the actors (including electronic noise and samples by DJ KBÇA), the outsatanding physical disposition displayed by the 18 cast members who move around a huge metalic structure that is the setting, don't manage to disguise the evident weakness of the text, which appears to be in mid-creative process.

The plot sketched by Adriana and João Falcão is potentially good but has not been explored. The scenes based on a love tringle that includes Rato (an exchange dealer), Cara (an undefined popstar) and Bela (a fan) are not enough to sustain the show. More defined supporting characters could help develop the plot better.

Although the director claims that it is his intention to switch actors on the main roles, a certain impression of waste comes up when we see a talented singer/actress like Andrea Marquee being underrated as a simple supporting actress. On the other hand, it is embarassing to witness actor João Simão (Cara) being forced to move around all the time on stilts and obviously lacking breath to sing poperly. When the tension provoked by the opening night fades, it is expected that Adriana and João Falcão should re-evaluate the dramatic flaws more objectively in order to correct them. The excellent songs written by Chico and Edu, Lenine's creative musical direction and the disposition displayed by the cast in general deserve a lot better than what was seen on Friday.