Even angels grow up

The South American vocal group Teen Angels will be winging their way to Tel Aviv this coming weekend.

Casi Angels 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Casi Angels 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Consider it a practice run for the expected onslaught of Justin Biebermania next month. Teen Angels, the South American vocal group aimed at the prepubescent crowd, will be making their third visit to Israel as conquering heroes.
The five, all cast members of the immensely popular Argentinean teen soap opera Casi Angeles (Almost Angels), have become household names here during the four seasons the series aired on HOT and YES.
With the show coming to an end, the group is also in the midst of its farewell Teen Angels World Tour 2011 which, in addition to visiting Uruguay and Spain, will land in Tel Aviv for three shows at the Nokia Arena on March 19 – at noon, 4:30 p.m. and a show at 8 p.m., delayed until Shabbat ends for observant fans of the group to arrive in time.
“It amazes me that in such a faraway country with a different language and culture that we’re so loved,” said Angel Mariana (Lali) Esposito during an e-mail exchange last week.
Created by Cris Morena, Casi Angeles developed serious themes and messages during its four years, delving into adult issues such as child abuse, adolescence, corruption and ultimately friendship and hope. And, of course, the Teen Angels performed in every episode.
After its second season in 2008, two of the show’s cast members, Peter Lanzani and Espósito, visited Israel for the first time to promote the series. They were so well received, that advertisers saw their potential and ended up booking them in TV commercials for Kef shampoo.
By 2009, the Casi Angeles phenomenon was in full swing in Israel, prompting the whole Teen Angels contingent – consisting of Espósito, Lanzani, Rocio Igarzábal, Gastón Dalmau and Nicolás Riera – to travel to Tel Aviv for a series of sold-out shows at the Nokia Arena for more than 80,000 fans. A return engagement last year saw the bubbly South Americans perform for 30,000 more young Israeli Angelites.
“Our Israeli fans are the warmest there is. It’s very similar to our fans in Argentina, which was surprising for us, since it’s so far away and the culture is so different. But their love for us is the same,” said Riera, who plays Juan “Tacho” Morales in the show.
Even though some cast members – Nicolas Vázquez, Mariano Torre, Maria Suarez and Emilia Attias – have left the show during its run and have been replaced, most of the five Teen Angels have been with the show from the beginning. And they’re viewing its demise with mixed emotions.
“It was an intense experience, hard work but fun at the same time,” said Dalmau. “It gave us the opportunity to speak straight from the heart to the youth, to give a message, and the feedback was always positive. It was a great success and very gratifying for us.”
“At the end of anything that’s been going on so long, there’s going to be some sadness,” added Esposito. “To part from people that you’ve spent four years with is really hard.”
Newest member Rocio Igarzábal received a pleasant surprise after the show finished filming when she was asked to join the Teen Angel tour.
“It was very sad for me to see the show end,” she said. “I didn’t know if I’d be part of the band, and I was thinking to myself, ‘What am I going to do now?’ And suddenly I got this opportunity, and I’m really happy.”
Igarzabel and the rest of the Teen Angels won’t be hanging up their wings right away once the tour is completed, though. They’re recording an album that they plan to complete after the farewell tour, which will keep them angels for eternity.