Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State

‘Sugar Skull!’ to take family audience on sweet ride into Mexican culture Sept. 29 at Eisenhower

In its first visit to State College, New York City’s Mexico Beyond Mariachi will perform “Sugar Skull!, A Dia de los Muertos Musical Adventure” for youngsters and their families, at 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29, in Eisenhower Auditorium.

The show, on stage during National Hispanic Heritage Month, centers on a girl named Vita who thinks her family is crazy for planning a celebration for dead loved ones. But when a candy skeleton in her grandmother’s cemetery altar springs to life, Vita finds herself on a magical, musical journey to unravel the true meaning of Day of the Dead.

Sugar Skull, a charismatic confection, dreams of riding the train to Who-Knows-Where. Along with her new skeletal friend, Vita dances with ancient ancestors, sings with a sorrowful sorceress, escapes the trickster Chaneques and even meets the famous Catrina Calavera. But can the clever youth help her sweet companion board the train before it’s too late?

Purchase tickets, which are $21 for an adult, $15 for a University Park student, and $21 for a person 18 and younger. A grant from the University Park Student Fee Board makes Penn State student prices possible.

Watch a preview of the show.

Mexico Beyond Mariachi was formed 15 years ago to help communities go beyond stereotypes to learn about traditional Mexican performance styles. Company founders realized that while Mexican influences abound throughout the United States, most Americans don’t know much about the stories, legends and myths woven into their neighbor country’s cultural fabric.

Using live music, dance and storytelling, Mexico Beyond Mariachi artists immerse audiences in the magical realism that permeates Mexican culture.

“Equal parts artistic and educational, Mexico Beyond Mariachi re-defines the interactive entertaining experience, engaging and captivating audiences of all ages,” wrote Gayle Schmidt, director of public education for New York Botanical Garden. “Each member brings a unique and personal aspect to the stage, creating cohesive, well-balanced and engaging performances.”

The company’s school performance and arts-in-education program has reached more than 100,000 students in 250-plus school and community venues in the eastern United States. “Sugar Skull!,” the troupe’s second full-scale touring production, debuted last year.

“The Mexico Beyond Mariachi program appeals to the non-Latino community as an introduction to a culture that, like the country of Mexico, is just beyond the horizon of mainstream American culture,” wrote Timothy G. Hart of the Ocean County, N.J., Cultural and Heritage Commission. “Using a judicious mix of Spanish and English, the program creates cross-cultural impact.”

McQuaide Blasko Endowment provides support for the presentation at Penn State.

Kids Connections, which is free for ticket holders and includes a craft-centered, child-friendly activity, takes place one hour before the performance. Due to space and time restrictions, Kids Connections participation is limited.