Merry Achi Christmas December 2, 2006
By Glen Creason
A sure sign of the commencement of Christmas in the area, along with an absence of parking in the local malls is the songs of the season appearing at the Performing Arts Center. First to put up the musical tree this year was the wonderful Mariachi Sol De Mexico de Jose Hernandez along with my favorites: Mariachi Reyna De Los Angeles and the Pacifico Dance Company. Their Holiday offering, aptly titled “Merry-Achi Christmas” is a beautiful gift of song and dance that dazzles the senses and lights up the stage with laughter and traditional Latin music. In their seventh year at Cerritos, the Merry-Achi Christmas show gets better and better including more regalos under the tree and an increased awareness of the special needs of Spanish impaired locals. This time the evening featured a few more carols and an equal number of sweet sones from south of the border.
What amazes most is the versatility of the troupe; playing trumpets, strumming guitars, firing up the violins or singing with heads thrown back, giving everything to the story. It is that emotion in the melody and the heartfelt dives and swoops of the voice that makes this kind of Mexican music some of the most moving and beautiful in the world. Examples of the best of this music came from the homeland of Senor Hernandez in Jalisco but portions of the evening paid tribute to the greats of Mexican singing including Miguel Aceves Mejia, Francisco Andrade, Vicente Fernandez, his boy Alejandro and the incomparable songwriting of Jose Alfredo Jimenez. The lively, adoring crowd spurred the artists on to higher notes and the greater glory of Jalisco and Old Mexico from start to finish, providing encouragement with whistles, handclapping and shouts of approval. What could be better than the song “Jalisco” itself along with fine old gems like “A Tu Salud,” “Mi Ultimo Fracaso,” “El Rey de Huasteca,” and the rousing closer “Viva Mexico.”
The lovely and multi-talented La Reyna de Los Angeles elevated the proceedings when their turn came, transforming Mariachi into a feminine art form. They performed “Albur de Amor,” “Los Peces en el Rio,” “Rocio Durcal, and “Charreada y Laureles” flawlessly and with gusto but they also surprised the house with a rowdy “Orange Blossom Special” that followed on the heels of Patsy Cline’s “Crazy.” The color of the show was not in muted tones. There were the red mariachi costumes of the Mariachi Sol, the pink of the Reyna and the glorious splashes of native costume on the spirited yet wonderfully graceful Pacifico Dance Company. They covered the dance genre from Vera Cruz to Jalisco through the Cabalito, the Machete and the Jarabe with grace and beauty galore. We were also treated to a hall-wide Posada, a stubborn piñata and a stage full of adorable kids.
Lest we forget this was a Merry-Achi Christmas and there was yuletide flavor in abundance. The “First Noel,” “Ave Maria,” “Oh Christmas Tree” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Jingle Bells” “the Christmas Song,” “Silent Night,” Sleigh Ride” and “Feliz Navidad” all got the Mariachi treatment with a little chile on them. As usual it was a night to remember in the great hall and a fitting kickoff of the season. Anyone asked as they exited if they enjoyed the show would have said “Si Senor!”