(DEAL PARK, NJ) -- It's the thrill of a lifetime for 14-year-old Mariana Herrera Jury who is currently lighting up the stage in Ragtime: The Musical, directed and choreographed by Luis Salgado, now playing at Axelrod Performing Arts Center. The production runs on select dates until March 25.
She may be young in years, but Jury, who hails from Cali-Colombia, has represented her country in international competitions in cities around the world including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica. In Colombia, she has appeared in stage productions of Cats, Mary Poppins, and Peter Pan. She made her New York stage debut in Bountiful, conceived and directed by her mentor, Luis Salgado.
Jury studies at Be!Danza Academy in Cali-Colombia, and she travels to New York annually to train with R.Evolución Latina, Broadway Dance Center, Salgado Productions and others.
Salgado discovered Jury six years ago in Cali when she participated in a Salgado Production musical theater workshop. After working with her over a few years, and providing her with different types of scholarships, Salgado says he was so impressed with her focus, natural skills and presence that he wanted to offer her a bigger opportunity, a role in a U.S. production that would take her to the next level of her experience.
That bigger opportunity is –Ragtime: The Musical – by the team of Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, with a book by Terrence McNally.
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“She is one of the most committed performers on the stage, she inspires us all and I am happy the entire cast has adopted her as their own. She brings a true sense of the American dream connected to an immigrant journey,” says Salgado.
Jury has been participating, studying and interning with the cast of Ragtime at Axelrod Performing Arts Center, working closely with the cast and production team. She is one of the Dance Captains for the show and originated a new role under Salgado's vision.
“Being in rehearsal and on stage with this cast of professional actors is incredible, and listening to their voices makes me want to work harder and learn from each of them,” says Jury. “Luis Salgado is a very special person because more than a teacher or a director, he inspires us to be humble and to give everything we've got and put it on the stage. The cast is a team, a family. I work hard every day to further myself and give the very best of me.”
The musical, like the novel, intertwines historical and fictional characters in a theatrical diorama and shows the conflict of the upper white classes with the black underclass and the straining flow of immigrants.
Given today's political environment and the ongoing debate about Dreamers, the border wall and the flood of refugees coming from all corners of the globe, this musical is great reminder that America's cultural diversity is an ongoing journey.
In addition to performing on Broadway in In the Heights and On Your Feet!, Luis Salgado appeared in the original company of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown with Laura Benanti, Patti LuPone and Brian Stokes Mitchell, as well as in Rocky, The Musical. Other credits include: The Mambo Kings, A Chorus Line and the play The Ghost Dancer. Salgado's film credits include Step Up 2 The Streets, Enchanted, Across the Universe, The Great Observer, and Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights.
Show dates for “Ragtime” are March 10, 17, 24 at 8:00pm, March 11, 18, 25 at 3:00pm. Ticket, ranging from $35 to $42, can be purchased at www.axelrodartscenter.com or by calling (732) 531-9106, x14. The Axelrod Performing Arts Center is located at 100 Grant Avenue in Deal Park, N.J.
The Axelrod Performing Arts Center fosters artistic excellence by showcasing varied and distinct cultural programs that enrich the imaginative, intellectual, and creative soul, while cultivating an appreciation of diverse communities through the pursuit of the arts.