Mexico Beyond Mariachi to put on 'SUGAR SKULL! A Dia de Los Muertos Musical Adventure' at the MAC Oct. 4

  • "SUGAR SKULL! A Dia de Los Muertos Musical Adventure" is coming to the McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn on Friday, Oct. 4.

    "SUGAR SKULL! A Dia de Los Muertos Musical Adventure" is coming to the McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn on Friday, Oct. 4. Courtesy of Christopher Duggan

Updated 9/19/2019 8:24 PM

Mexico Beyond Mariachi presents "SUGAR SKULL! A Dia de Los Muertos Musical Adventure," written by Gregory Van Acker, musical arrangements by Sinuhé Padilla, at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4 at the McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn. Tickets are $20 or $14 for youth. For tickets, visit or call (630) 942-4000.

"Sugar Skull!" is a joyous, heartfelt adventure that delves into the rich, tuneful traditions of the holiday through music and dance. This one-hour show is recommended for ages 6 or older.


Young Vita thinks her family has gone loco planning a celebration for deceased loved ones until she finds herself on a magical, musical journey accompanied by Sugar Skull, a charismatic candy skeleton to unravel the true meaning of Día de los Muertos or the Day of the Dead. This production is presented by Mexico Beyond Mariachi, a multi-cultural ensemble of professional musicians, actors, dancers and teaching artists with a 15-year history as a leading arts-in-education provider of regional Mexican music and dance.

The Absecon News calls "SUGAR SKULL" a "fast-moving, memorable and happy hour."

Chicago's own Victor Pichardo (guitar/vocals) will be part of the cast performing at the MAC.

Pichardo is a founding member of the Chicago-based Sones de México Ensemble whose third album "Esta Tierra es Tuya" (This Land is your Land) was nominated for a 2007 Latin Grammy and 2008 Grammy. With Sones de México, he has performed at Carnegie Hall, Chicago's Symphony Center and Millennium Park, the Getty in Los Angeles, among others.

Pichardo collaborated with the Goodman Theatre as music director on the 2013 production of "Pedro Páramo" and doing so on the new play "American Mariachi," debuting at the Goodman in Spring 2020.

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Other members of the cast are as follows

• Rafa Reyes (Sugar Skull) is the creator and front man of A Mexican Affair, a spicy blend of boleros and jazz that celebrates the beautiful cultural influence between Mexico and the U.S. Originally from Cordoba, Mexico, he is a graduate of New York's American Musical and Dramatic Academy, and an awarded Cultural Representative of Veracruz.

• Zahaira Curiel (Vita), a native New Yorker, has roots in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Recently she co-produced the sold-out all-women production of "CrazySexyCruel" at The PIT (People's Improv Theater) in New York.

• Alda Reuter (Mama/Abuelita), born and raised in Mexico City, is the co-founder and artistic director of Mexico Beyond Mariachi. A dance educator and performer, she currently works with organizations including Ballet Hispanico, Young Audiences New York, Global Arts and Community Works. She was recently recognized for 20 years of teaching artist excellence by Arts Connection.

• Argelia Arreola (Marigold/Bruja/Chaneque/Viejito), was born in Mexico and is a dancer, instructor and choreographer currently working with Ballet Nepantla, MotusDuet and Seewe African Dance Company. Previously she served as a Professor at the School of Dance of the Universidad Veracruzana, Mexico (2010-2012) and as Dance Captain and choreographer for Mexico's Ensamble de Percusiones of Xalapa (2003-2013).


• Quetziquetl Angulo-Aleman (Ancestor/Viejito/Chaneque) was born and raised in Mexico City. She is one of the Capitans/Heads of Mexica Aztec Dance Huehuetlahtolli whose mission is to preserve the indigenous way of life of and the ancient traditions of Mexico.

• Benjamin Perez Hidalgo (Percussion/Vocals), was born and raised in Mexico City and has been an independent professional musician and touring artist for more than 30 years accompanying Mexican pop touring artists including Ana Gabriel, Emannuel, Mijares, Alejandra Guzman and others.

• Xiemena Violante (Violin/Voice) is a Philly-based Mexican violinist, jarana player, singer, teacher, and organizer. As a teacher, Violante has led workshops on the history of son jarocho and the power of improvisation at the University of Pennsylvania, Haverford College, University of Texas San Antonio, Girls Rock Camp Alliance's annual international conference, as well as community gatherings.

Elena Araoz (director) is a stage director of theater and opera as well as an actress and writer. As a director, she has worked internationally, Off-Broadway and across the country. Other members of the design team include Sinuhe Padilla (music director), Areglia Arreola (choreographer,) Scott Lilly (set and projection design), Anna Carhart (lighting design), Nathan Leigh (sound design), Jules Peiperl, Benjamin Hidaldo and Alda Reuter (costume /properties design) and Jessica Scott ("El Coco" puppet design).

Mexico Beyond Mariachi was created to address the needs of New York City communities to know more about traditional Mexican performance culture beyond the stereotype.

Responding to that need, it created an in-depth school performance and arts-in-education program that has reached more than100,000 students in over 250 schools and community venues on the East Coast.

Building on that success, it mounted their first full-scale touring show for performing arts centers in 2015 to further help tell the story to young audiences and families nationwide. Mexico Beyond Mariachi premiered "SUGAR SKULL! A Dia de los Muertos Musical Adventure" in a successful nine-city tour in fall 2018.

The MAC engagement is part of a 30-city, cross country tour.

Mexico Beyond Mariachi presents "SUGAR SKULL! A Dia de Los Muertos Musical Adventure" at the McAninch Arts Center (MAC), 425 Fawell Blvd., 7 p.m., Friday, Oct. 4. On Friday, Oct. 4, the MAC will also offer daytime performances at 9:45 and 11:30 a.m. School groups and individual are welcome to secure their tickets for these performances by calling the SchoolStage phone at (630) 942-2220.

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