It is always a delight to be invited to a theater performance. Even sweeter when the show it’s actually good and goes above and beyond your expectations. That was the case this past Tuesday April 30th, when we were present for the debut of “The Virtuous Blugar” by Dario Fo and directed by the award winning Enmanuel Garcia Villavicencio. As we walked into stage #4 of the Roy Arias Studios at the Times Square Performing Arts Center, we were pleasantly surprised to see a packed house. The attention to detail in the set design and carefully placed props immediately transported us to the living room of an affluent and stylish family. At the same time, allowing us a voyeuristic view in the life of the leading characters. The story of intertwined plots and love interests; takes place between the apartment the burglar is about to rob and his own house. Mr. Villavicencio did an outstanding job directing this group of mostly veteran actors of the NY Hispanic theater scene. Their skill and comedic timing gave life to the vision set forth by Mr. Fo. The twist and turns of the story only increased as the actors appeared on stage. Although the entire cast of this amazing production is definitely equally talented and captivating, I must note a few things. Not being familiar with the script prior to this performance, I noticed that it provided great opportunities for the female cast members to showcase their talents. One of the actors who without doubt took advantage of that was Ms. Del Valle. Her interpretation of Maria Tornati, a manipulative, jealous and overbearing Burglar’s wife; fascinated the audience. Her sense of awareness, timing and corporal control reminded me of iconic female comediennes; such as Lucille Ball. Whose beauty did not compromise her performances by allowing herself to let go and commit to often corky and un-pretty gestures. Ms. Del Valle’s splendid physical delivery of shtick (often overplayed and misused by others), made her “Maria Tornati” and that night’s performance unforgettable. Her precise and subtle expressions even when not speaking, commanded the stage. This is a rare gift and a sign of a true actor. I will not be surprised to see her back on stage as soon as possible (a treat for any director) and possibly receiving a well deserved award for an outstanding job.
As I discuss the women of this production I am also compelled to mention Yvette Quintero’s portrayal of the “Mistress”; a high pitched and flirty, brunette Marilyn Monroe type. Whose weakness is men and lives paranoid of being caught with her married lover. When she first arrives on stage the audience is overcome by her squeaky dialogue, paranoia and yes no, more and less sexual desire. After a few minutes you start to love and accept her delivery of the character. It becomes reminiscent of a caricature of the likes of Betty Boop and Jessica Rabbit. Quintero commits to her deliverance, making us laugh at the constant scenarios being conjured in her brain. It seems that when Mr. Fo created the character it made it clear that her brain can only process a small amount of information, being sexy and getting caught. Forming in her head a never ending loop of fear and sexual antics. We must note that the men also held their own. Mr. Angelo Tornati, a character well played by Paul Montoya. Is an emasculated low time burglar, who unwillingly gets caught up in a love triangle while “working” at the Marianni’s home. A typical man doing whatever he can to provide for his never satisfied wife. Montoya did a great job delivering the amount of text required by leading role, obviously in his second language. His interpretation of the burglar was sincere and believable. Funny and witty, while maintaining a charming and relatable portrayal. According to our sources, Paul is growing and honing his craft. We will definitely see more from the former “Bodas de sangre” cast member. What can we say about Ron Sarcos, that has not been said already. A seasoned actor who provided us with a grounded performance of Mr. Mariani. A cheating husband trying to make the best out of a chaotic situation. Mr. Sarcos dominance of the stage is undeniable, delivering the dialogue with assertiveness and well thought out emphasis. There was no need for him to play an over the top character as it would’ve only clashed with the rest of the characters, each trying to make their case. We go on to meet Anna Mariani; played by Johanna Ramirez and Aaron Jaquez who plays Antonio. They both provided their cast-mates with supportive roles, each an essential part of the overall production. Without giving too much away, these two characters were also “very” involved in various ways with the rest of the couples. But the highlight of this duo was undeniably right after the blackout scene, cleverly display of updated and innovative direction by Mr. Villavicencio. The goal of every character was to come out clean and inconspicuously from the outrageous mix of situational comedy. Both the characters and actors failed to do so, as they left a memorable impression of their brilliant work. As I walked into the theater space, I had no idea what to expect. The house was packed and the stage design was only a small fragment of the creativity and talent I was about to witness. My sincere congratulations to the production company Angel Falls and everyone else involved in this project.