Thursday November 23rd 2017

“Momma’s Boyz”

For 22 years, it has been the mission of Teatro Vista to produce full scale,Latino orientated theatrical productions- in English. Their purpose is to share and celebrate the Latino culture with the Chicago theater audiences of all ethnicity’s, so that we can see that what may seem different is also similar and to break down the roles of stereotypes in order to bridge the gap between the Latino and non-Latino communities. For the most part, they have accomplished this to perfection. Their current offering, Candido Tirado’s “Momma’s Boyz” while enjoyable does not serve to bridge the gap, but instead to tell a story about a part of the Latino community that is on the dark side of life.

This is a new version of this play, now set on the streets of Chicago about three friends, project dwellers, all with dreams of success and having a better life. It is told through a flashback system as we begin the story at the funeral of  Shine ( a rich portrayal by Marvin Quijada) as his friend Mimic ( a solid, comic and real performance by newcomer Steve Casillas). Shine was shot by the third member of these “Three Amigos”, Thug ( deftly handled by Jesse David). They were drug dealers and as we begin our flashback we learn more and more about their lives, their dreams and how they became the men they were. There are many flashbacks, sometimes a month, or an hour or months and we are helped by projections to know where we were in time.

Director Ricardo Gutierrez moves the action very smoothly despite the time sequences on a set by Regina Garcia on the stage of this very intimate theater ( Chicago Dramatists), as we watch these “boyz” become men. It turns out that mimic ( who dreams of becoming an actor) has the ability, the magical ability to turn back time ( thus the flashbacks) in order to alter the actions that are caused by the dealing of drugs. Shine, wants to have a recording studio and a sit turns out Thug has no real dream to share- he wants the good life and will end up doing whatever it takes to get there.

While there is a lot of humor in this darkly scripted show and three solid performances by three actors who truly make you feel that they did grow up together, I felt that it was a bit long at 2  plus hours. With a few cuts here and there, perhaps down to 90-100 minutes without an intermission, the focus on the story would be stronger. There is a riot of a scene when Shine and Thug go head to head on Taunts dealing with each other’s Momma- funny, but far to long.. Ultimately, the story is about choice we make in life and when Mimic wishes that they had resisted the quick money of drug dealing in order to save his friends’ life, we get the full picture of these men and their dreams and relationship. What brings something special to a show like this is that along with solid direction and performances those who are behind the scenes make every little detail help to make the entire production complete. Mac Vaughey’s lighting,Christine Pasqual’s costumes, Mikhail Fiskel’s lighting, Ashley Ozment’s props ( there are a lot of props in this one) and the fight choreography of David Wooley are the ingredients that bring it all together.

This is a production worth seeing ,as it can open one’s eyes to some of the choices they have made in life. Teatro Vista has truly done it again! They find bright talent and find the perfect roles for them to play. Chicago Dramatists located at 1105 W. Chicago Avenue ( at the intersection of Chicago/Milwaukee and Ogden Avenues is an intimate theater that is just right for stories such as this and you can see this production through December 4th with performances as follows:

Thursdays, Fridasy and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.

Tickets are a bargain $25 ( $20 for students and seniors) and after each performance there is a post show discussion where we can learn more about the choices, not only in this play, but in our lives.

To order your tickets call 312-666-4659 or visit www.teatrovista.org

There is street parking, some free, some metered. CTA might be the best way to go.

 

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