As this is such an epic tale, it has now been broken down into 2 acts of 90 minutes each, which can be performed as one long musical of 3 hours, or two self-contained musicals of 90 minutes. The first act/musical takes us from 1952 to 1959 – the overthrow of the Batista dictatorship and revolutionary war. This is now complete.
The second act/musical starts when Fidel now has to run Cuba and takes us from 1959 to the present day and includes Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis.
Fidel’s early years. He studied law, but was mostly interested in political activism and campaigning against Batista – the dictator who came to power in a Coup d’etat in 1952 (scenes 1-4)
26th July 1953 Fidel and 123 others unsuccessfully attacked the Moncada Barracks – most were tortured and killed and many thrown in prison. Fidel named his revolutionary movement the 26th July movement to commemorate the date of their first attack. Fidel and his brother Raul were released 3 years later and escaped to Mexico where they met Che Guevara and built up troops, money and weapons for their return to liberate Cuba from the increasingly brutal dictatorship. (Scenes 5-15)
Fidel and about 80 others returned to Cuba in December 1956. Because they arrived later than planned, they missed the help of those waiting to help them get to safety in Cuba – Celia Sanchez and Frank Pais. This meant that most of the men got killed shortly after landing by Batista’s army. Eventually the survivors – Fidel and Raul Castro, Che Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos and about 15 others found each other and formed the core guerrilla army. Celia Sanchez and Haydee Santamaria joined them. Over the next few years, they recruited more soldiers, fought battles, established a base in the Sierra Maestra mountains and engaged in guerrilla warfare against Batista’s army. The numbers in the guerrilla group varied over time, but approximately 200 guerrilla soldiers under Fidel Castro repeatedly won battles against Batista’s army of 37000 men. The Battle of Santa Clara 31 Dec 1958 was decisive. Batista fled the country, taking most of the money. (Scenes 16-28)
After a long victory march across the country, Fidel Castro entered Havana on 8th January 1959.
For an outline of the actual musical scenes see https://fidelthemusical.soton.ac.uk/putting-on-the-musical/
Fidel nominated himself as head of the armed forces, Manuel Urrutia as President and Jose Miro Cardona as Prime Minister. They conduct revolutionary trials where the key torturers under the Batista regime are either shot or imprisoned. Internal politics occur as different factions struggle for position and Urrutia and Miro resign and Fidel becomes President.(scenes 29-32)
Socialist reforms take place such as free education and healthcare. The agrarian reform act expropriates property in Cuba that is owned by US companies and distributes it to the Cuban peasants and farmers. This upsets the Americans and leads to a US embargo against Cuba halting all imports and exports. There is debate to what extent Fidel is socialist or communist and the US start their campaign to assassinate Fidel Castro. (Scenes 33-37).
In 1961 the US launched a surprise attack on the Bay of Pigs which was unsuccessful. Following suspicions of further attacks on Cuba, Fidel accepted the Soviet Union’s offer to place nuclear weapons on Cuba, leading to the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962. (Scenes 38-39).
Fidel tries to maintain the revolutionary ideals of independence but the country is struggling against shortages due to the embargo, trying to maintain self-determination in the face of an increasing reliance on Soviet aid, and against counter-revolutionaries sponsored by the CIA. In 1965 Che Guevara leaves to support revolution abroad first in the Congo and then in Bolivia. In October 1967 Che was captured by CIA-assisted Bolivian forces and executed. (Scenes 40-44).
Che’s death is a great sorrow and Che Guevara becomes an iconic symbol of a revolutionary hero. Cuba struggles to survive economically and to produce enough sugar to pay off its debts. In 1980 Fidel’s close companion Celia Sanchez dies of cancer. She fought and governed alongside him for 25 years and he is devastated. Cuba goes in to a great decline called ‘the special period’ when the Soviet Union collapses in 1989 and no longer provides aid to Cuba. The US believe that this will finally result in Fidel being overthrown and they tighten their embargo still further leading to great hunger and shortages in Cuba. But Cuba builds up other industries such as tourism, biotechnology and medicine and gradually improve their standard of living. Despite all the odds Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution pulls through (scenes 45-49).