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A Different Frida Kahlo on Broadway
By: Josalin Wang
Frida Kahlo: the beloved artist whose story has been told time and time again in writing and television is now having a musical written about her life -- this time from a different perspective. Last Thursday, the news of this production (expected to open in 2024) was released.
The creators, Valentina Berger (producer), Neena Beber (playwright), and Jaime Lozano (music composer), intend to use insights from Kahlo’s family and a book her niece wrote, Intimate Frida, to tell her story. They want to show the person she was, not just the tragedies in her life that are associated with her name.
There were no shortages of misfortune in Frida’s life; she was in a bus accident which left her with severe, lasting injuries, had three miscarriages, and battled with depression that led her to several suicide attempts. She channeled her pain through to her paintings. In “The Broken Column,” she is horrifyingly split in half by a crumbling column, bare and bound by sheets, pierced by numerous nails - metaphorically, it was her bedridden, injured self.
Despite the pain Khalo suffered throughout her life, her family describes the artist as a funny, passionate, and loving woman. “In all the stories I heard when I was a little child, our family remembered Aunt Frida as a very joyful woman [...] ‘Frida, The Musical’ honors everything she was: a real woman who fought for her dreams, loved like anybody else and always lived ahead of her time,” said Mara Romeo Kahlo, Frida Kahlo’s grandniece. Her family believe this is the version of Frida Kahlo that the world should remember, which is why this musical was the only one out of many to receive the Kahlo family’s blessing.
The producer, Valentina Berger traveled to Mexico to visit the Kahlo family, where she heard the songs and stories Frida used to tell. “She was really, really fun. That’s what we want to portray. I used to have a sad view of Frida, like, ‘Oh, the poor woman.’ Now, knowing how she was so smart and so clever, I look up to her.” Berger wishes to have that same effect on audiences with her musical: to change Frida’s image from tragedy to vitality.