Josué Barreto, director of the musical group Barreto y su Plena, will debut in the Hollywood film Runner, Runner, which is presently being filmed in Puerto Rico. I do hope his scene survives the editing room as there is nothing more emblematically Puerto Rican than the plena beat!
The film crew was looking for a musician who was also good at circus acts. His friend and fellow circus performer, María De Azúa, who is part of the film production team, recommended him. Josué Barreto received a call on his birthday (June 30). He asked to be ready to play full one with the tambourine on fire, in addition to cast fire from his mouth. They asked him to be ready to play a solo percussion number with his pandero (or plenera, a hand-held drum) in flames, an act he normally includes in his live performances; he quickly agreed.
The next day, he was ready for action. Barreto’s scene was filmed in the La Perla neighborhood of Old San Juan. He played a musician who does a solo with his drum on fire, which he then uses as a torch to light flames thrown from his mouth. He blew flames up about 15 feet brilliant splendor. His virtuosity impressed the production team that filmed different angles of Barreto’s number. He says, “My skin began to feel irritated by the heat of the flames and I decided to stop. The producers then asked me: ‘Can you do it again?’ And I, like a good Puerto Rican, said, ‘I’ll do it two or three times, if necessary.’”
For full articles (in Spanish), see http://www.prpop.org/noticias/jul2012/runner-runner-con-toque-de-plena-762012-4.shtml and http://www.primerahora.com/barretoysupanderodebutanenrunnerrunner-667128.html