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FREE SHOW AIMS TO WIDEN THE THEATER AUDIENCE

The New York City-based theater company Teatro Pregones will provide a free performance in Buffalo on July 31, its third cultural showcase for residents who don't ordinarily have the means or interest to see a play, organizers said.

The show will begin at 6 p.m. in Herman Badillio Community School, 300 S. Elmwood Ave. "Baile Cangrejero," a musical mostly in Spanish with some English narration, is based on the works of several internationally renowned Afro-Caribbean poets, including Luis Pales Mator and Nicolas Guillen.

The play features poems -- its namesake translates literally to "Dance of the Crabs" -- from the era of African influence in Latin America. Its small but high-energy cast comprises two actors and a four-person band, said organizer Sheila M. Lopez.

"It's not your traditional drama because they mix the poetry with the music," said Lopez, executive director of Antecesores, a local Latino nonprofit theater group that is sponsoring the play.

"It is funny, it's lively," she said. "We, the second and third generations, we hear comments and expressions and things from our parents and grandparents, and we don't really know where they come from. In some of the stories that we hear, we'll find out, so it's educational, too."

The play is part of Antecesores' "Bridging the Gaps Between Generations" program series that encourages families to celebrate their Latin heritage. The play was widely praised when it opened in New York City this spring and has prompted audience participation in some performances. The music combines the popular African and Latino rhythms of bomba, plena and bolero.

Admission is open to the public. For ticket reservations, call (716) 867-2880.

e-mail: jmalarkey@buffnews.com

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