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Meetchu in Machu Picchu

Larry Zeiger has wanted to make a music video ever since he recorded his concept album Meetchu in Machu Picchu in 2009. Not just a video, he says, correcting himself, but a musical film with a story line, something with the smoke and the heft of a movie like Chicago. “And then it turns into an extravagant dance production number.”

By his estimate, Zeiger will need about a hundred dancers to fulfill his own Busby Berkeley vision of choreography. He should know. Zeiger cowrote and produced 33 musicals, one for each of the years that he taught theater arts and film and English at Point Loma High School. His Gotta Sing Gotta Dance company may be the longest-running musical theatrical group in San Diego County schools. Zeiger’s website states that over 60,000 attended those PLHS performances over the years, right up to his retirement in 2007.

But it is turning out, this mini-movie, to be more work than Zeiger thought possible. “Gabriel Soto’s production company Semper Productions is doing the filming. He was here today from noon to about 5:30 p.m. Five and a half hours to do a five-minute movie.”

Gilbert Castellanos, the local jazz trumpet player, performed on the original recording of Meetchu in Machu Picchu. He and his trumpet will also make a cameo appearance in the film version. Zeiger has enlisted salsa dance pros Serena Cuevas and Marilyn and Rodrigo to star in the dance scenes, for which he says 40 or so extras have already committed themselves.

Shooting is scheduled to begin at Zeiger’s Loma Portal condo in early 2011, and will then move to the inside of the Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park. In his retirement, Zeiger serves on the Centro’s arts advisory committee. He likes the look and feel of the Centro, with its inner and outer concrete skins decorated by a maze of tattoo-like murals, most of them applied years ago when the round storage building was ground zero for San Diego’s Chicano movement. Zeiger says those murals will figure heavily into the film’s visuals.

“And, we’re going to use the 12-foot-tall puppets that were designed and used for this year’s Dia de los Muertos parade in Sherman Heights.”

Filming of the dance sequence will start at 6:30 p.m. December 6 at the Centro (2004 Park Boulevard). Any interested Latin-style dancers, Zeiger says, are invited to show up wearing “sexy club attire.” There’s no pay, but he says all will get credit and an invite to attend the movie’s premiere.

“We’re planning on sending [the movie] to film festivals all over the U.S., South America, Mexico,” says Zeiger, “and, of course, to Oprah.”

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