Monday, May 8, 2017

Óye Oyá—Milagro—SE Portland

“Two Roads Diverged…”

This world premiere of a musical in Spanish based, in part, on Shakespeare’s, “The Tempest,” is written by Rebecca Martinez and Rodolfo Ortega, directed by Estefania Fadul, music direction by Clay Giberson and choreography by Freila Merencio.  It is playing at their space, 525 SE Stark St. (finding parking is a concern in this area, so plan your time accordingly), through May 27th.  For more information, go to their site at www.milagro.org or call 503-236-7253.

My above title comes from a poem by Robert Frost, in which a person is faced with having to choose between two roads going through a forest, as the one he chooses will be his destiny.  A similar dilemma faces the heroine in this story.  Does one, at the crossroads of their life, choose the smoother, more traversed path, or the lesser known one, “…the road less traveled by?”

As mentioned, this story has counterparts to the Bard’s play, in which a storm throws people together, who are forced to confront old enemies, make new friends and, ultimately change the fates of all concerned.  And, believe me, it doesn’t turn out the way you think it might.  In this version, Felo (Jimmy Garcia), a café owner, is a man who feels trapped in Cuba, having had a chance to flee to America but was betrayed by his best friends, Dimiri (Enrique Eduardo Andrade) and his wife, Caridad (Amalia Alarcón Morris), who left without him and ended up in Miami.  While there, they had a child, a boy named Javier (Christian Alavarez), all of whom have been washed up on these shores by a storm.

Also, on board their ship, are two “ugly American” tourists, Alex (Andrés Alcalá) and his ditzy wife, Francis (Janelle Vanpelt), who see opportunities galore in this paradise, in which they can “Americanize” this island.  They discover an old man, Canimao (Julio César Velásquez), who makes some very potent moonshine.  And you don’t even want to know what they plan to do with pizza!  Also on the island are Yenisel (Lori Felipe-Barkin), the daughter of Felo, who has only heard stories of the shiny land beyond.  There is also a Musician (Dashel Ruiz), giving support to the proceedings.  And, most importantly of all, there is Doña Teresa (Julana Torres), a spirit guide who has a special connection to the goddess, Oyá, who can alter the fates of these humble creatures.

More I cannot tell you without being a spoiler.  But know that crossroads in a person’s life are not to be taken lightly and magic is not to be dismissed.  This is also a timely play with the immigration issues at the forefront of the news nowadays.  The music and songs in this show do enhance the story greatly and I’m sure the Bard would be pleased with how his fantasy piece has inspired generations.  The dance numbers are amazing, especially Torres, who conveys easily the airy spirit of this “music of the spheres.”  I was also impressed with the art design for this show by William Hernandez, which captures expressionistically the mood of the piece.  The graphic projections for the storybook were also beautifully rendered by Lawrence Siulagi.

The cast was all first-rate and Felipe-Barkin particularly has a terrific voice.  Fadul has done quite an exemplar job of putting this all together on such a small stage.  And, for those of you who do not speak this expressive language, the supertitles in English are quite easy to follow.  I’ve always been impressed with the quality of their shows and after almost 35 seasons, they have proven they have quality and sustainability in their productions.  Wishing them another 35 years of success!

I recommend this production.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.