The Postman and the Poet
The poet Pablo Neruda teaches his postman Mario to woo the beautiful Beatriz in verse. Romance, comedy and – ultimately – tragedy follow…
Ethan Freeman (Pablo Neruda, the Poet); Jennifer Hepburn (Matilde, Neruda’s wife); Simon Thomas (Mario Jimenez, the Postman); Stuart Pendred (Jose Jimenez, Mario’s father); Joanna Ampil (Beatriz Gonzalez); Siobhan McCarthy (Rosa Gonzalez, Beatriz’s mother); Hal Fowler (Labbe, the Political deputy); Graham Bickley (Cosme, the Postmaster); Arvid Larsen (Father Zulueta, the Priest)
Women of Isla Negra: Robyn North (Giulietta); Jennifer Hepburn (Carmen); Madalena Alberto (Raffaela); Sarah Lark (Dolores); Aimie Atkinson (Francesca); Rosa O’Reilly (Maria)
Men of Isla Negra and Santiago: Ben Watson (Antonio); Paul Betts (Paco); Adam Ellis (Miguel); Robin Chalk (Tomas); Stephen Carlile (Paolo); Matt Harrop (Fernando)
Cosme the postmaster introduces the small Chilean village of Isla Negra as the women wait for the fishermen to land their catch. Cosme persuades work-shy Mario to become the poet Pablo Neruda’s postman. Mario falls instantly in love with Beatriz when she returns from visiting her distant father. Mario introduces himself to Neruda and his wife Matilde. Labbe, the right-wing politico, takes a fancy to Beatriz and makes an ally of her mother, Rosa.
Neruda teaches Mario the power of poetry and gives him one of his books. At last Mario wins Beatriz’s heart. Rosa is horrified and accuses Mario of plagiarising Neruda. Cosme and Labbe start their electioneering on behalf of the Marxist Allende and the right-wing candidate Alessandri respectively.
With Neruda’s help, Allende wins the 1970 election. Labbe apart, Isla Negra celebrates victory and Rosa’s taverna booms. Mario and Beatriz marry, and Rosa puts her new son-in-law to work in the taverna. When Labbe makes a pass at Beatriz, Mario attacks him. The economic boom comes to an end and discontent sets in. Neruda, appointed Chilean ambassador to France, is homesick and asks Mario and Beatriz to record the sounds of Isla Negra. As they do so, they tell him they will soon be parents.
Aided by Labbe, General Pinochet’s soldiers seize power in Santiago. Cosme gives Mario telegrams from round the world addressed to Neruda. At Beatriz’s insistence, Mario leaves her and their baby boy and takes the cables to Neruda. Labbe, now in charge at Isla Negra and desperate for revenge, kills Cosme. He then arrests Mario, who has naively described himself in his notebook as a communist. Mario joins the ranks of the ‘Disappeared’ and, as Rosa, Beatriz and baby Pablito prepare to leave, the citizens of Isla Negra unite in the hope of a better world to come.
The music is wonderful and the singing is fantastic. If you like an Evita/West Side Story flavor you will like this one.
I purchased this album knowing very little about the composer, but was drawn to it being familiar with some of the performers on the recording.
I have been absolutely blown away by the album. I don’t know if there’s been a production mounted as yet, but I can only imagine it’s just a question of time. The songs are beautiful and as expected, the singers used to deliver them match the brilliant material.
Any musical theatre fan will be able to appreciate the superb score and first class production on this recording. I really hope someone out there ‘discovers’ it and mounts a full West End production… I will be the first in line to buy a ticket… especially if they manage to get Joanna Ampil on board.
Pablo King, Amazon.com
Having received this score as a gift from a close friend, who had seen the film (Il Postino), I was told that this would be ‘up my street’ and I must say he was right! The score is beautifully put together, not knowing a great deal about musical theatre, but having an ever growing appreciation for it, this album has not left my CD player. The singers deliver the songs wonderfully, that coupled with the vibrant instrumental pieces, make this album a must have for any musicals fan.
The discovery of The Postman and the Poet (CD) is the discovery of a treasure… Acoustically, this musical is a true listening pleasure from the first to the last second. In addition to reflections of Boublil/Schonberg’s musicals Les Miserables and Miss Saigon in the overture and ensemble numbers, composer Michael Jeffrey has developed a style all of his own – Latin rhythms, fitting to Chile, can be heard in the very peppy Taca Taca (and Dance at Rosa’s) and also in Poetry is Poison. There are many musical highlights on this double CD.
In the leading role of the poet Pablo Neruda is Ethan Freeman. For over 20 years he has been the crème de la crème in German musicals, and has appeared on Broadway and in London’s West End. He exhibits his power to express emotion in his only solo Speak from the Heart. The same quality applies to Stolen Words sung by Simon Thomas (Mario) and Joanna Ampil’s (Beatriz) singing You’re a Man.
The presentation of the CD should also be mentioned. Although a concept album, one still gets a double CD and a 60-page booklet with the libretto, background information and several photos. It only remains to be hoped that this powerful musical will one day find its way onto the stage and the CD recording will have been just the appetizer. This could be such a beautiful musical. More please!
Spooky, but the day before this arrived for review, I had been reading a review of the album online, and it wasn’t that great, so I wasn’t really rushing to listen to the two CD’s. Well I don’t know what that reviewer had been listening to but I really liked this musical…
The whole package has plusses and minuses, as you would expect with a new musical that hasn’t yet had a stage production. To dwell too much on the minuses would be to do the piece an injustice…
The cast are all musically excellent and I really wish that I could be watching it live on stage. The arrangements are wonderful and a special mention must go to Craig Barna who carried out the orchestrations and conducts the National Symphony Orchestra for the CD.
Nick Wakeham, Musical Theatre Review
Based on the novel Ardiente Paciencia by Antonio Skarmeta.
Book: Trevor Bentham and Eden Phillips.
Music: Michael Jeffrey.
Lyrics: Eden Phillips.
Produced by: John Yap.
Performed and recorded before invited audiences at Angel Studios, Islington, London 27th – 28th June 2011.
Official website: thepostmanandthepoet.com
The concept album of a new musical, based on Antonio Skarmeta’s Ardiente Paciencia, the novel that inspired the film Il Postino.