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

PHOTOS PROVIDED Above and at left, performers in elaborate costumes act out scenes from ‘Sugar Skull!’, coming soon to the Center for the Performing Arts.

STATE COLLEGE — 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?

Tickets for the Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State presentation–$21 for an adult, $15 for a University Park student, and $21 for a person 18 and younger–are available online at cpa.psu.edu or by phone at 814-863-0255 or 800-ARTS-TIX. Tickets are also available at three State College locations: Eisenhower Auditorium (weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.), Penn State Downtown Theatre Center (weekdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and Bryce Jordan Center (weekdays 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). A grant from the University Park Student Fee Board makes Penn State student prices possible.

PHOTOS PROVIDED Above and at left, performers in elaborate costumes act out scenes from ‘Sugar Skull!’, coming soon to the Center for the Performing Arts.

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.”

PHOTOS PROVIDED Above and at left, performers in elaborate costumes act out scenes from ‘Sugar Skull!’, coming soon to the Center for the Performing Arts.

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.

Find the Center for the Performing Arts on Facebook at facebook.com/PSCPA, on Twitter at twitter.com/psupresents and on Instagram at instagram.com/psupresents.

PHOTOS PROVIDED Above and at left, performers in elaborate costumes act out scenes from ‘Sugar Skull!’, coming soon to the Center for the Performing Arts.

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