Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Destiny of Desire—OSF—Ashland, OR

Ella Saldana North (right), Adriana Sevahn Nichols
Photo by Jenny Graham
How the Other Half Lives

   This imaginative play is written by Karen Zacarís and directed by José Luis Valenzuela with music by Rosino Serrano.  It is playing at the Bowmer Theatre at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, in repertory, through mid- July.  For more information, go to their site at

     This planet is host to a variety of living creatures and they all seem to have a pecking order.  The most obvious in the human race is rich and poor.  The idle Rich are usually pictured as arrogant beasts who crave Power and ignore those less fortunate—the Black hats.  The Poor are usually portrayed as good-hearted and hard-working—the White hats.  Of course, these perceptions will vary depending on who’s doing the viewing.

     One popular political solution is to erect walls to keep out the “undesirables,” those “unwashed masses.”  Bad idea.  Another is to build bridges to embrace all cultures.  Good idea.  In this story the division between classes is examined but in a very bizarre way.  Looking at serious matters through crossed-eyes can reveal facts in a new light.  Or, in giggleas est veritas (loosely, in laughter there is truth).

     On one hand, we have the filthy rich, the Castillo family, all bravado and glitter.  In the other corner, we have the poor, represented by Del Rio family, honest farmers and maids, feeding and cleaning for the powers-that-be, as well as some doctors and nurses, trying to make things better for those less fortunate.  It is inevitable in this volatile mix that something is bound to erupt.
The tale is a complicated one and so I can only give you a thumb-mail sketch of the basics.  It seems that one dark and stormy night two mothers are at the same hospital, giving birth to daughters.  One is Fabiola (Vilma Silva) of the my-s**t-doesn’t-stink family, the Castillo’s, head master, Armando (Armando Durán).  The other is of their maid, Hortencia (Adriana Sevahn Nichols), of the farming clan, the Del Rio’s, chief farmer, Ernesto (Eddie Lopez).  The elite baby is weak, perhaps dying, the humble one, strong and so, with the inducement of more monies for the hospital fund, the unscrupulous head doctor, Mendoza (Al Espinosa) switches the two babies, while Sister Sonia (Catherine Castellanos), the head nun and nurse looks on, disapprovingly.

     Jump some years later and the two girls are grown up now.  Victoria Del Rio (Ella Saldana North) is a charming young lady in her teens, who desires to be a doctor.  Likewise, is her counter-part, charming, Pilar Castillo (Esperanza America), who also has a good heart.  But it is inevitable that into every life some complications will arise.  The doctor also has a son, Diego (Fidel Gomez), that has followed in his footsteps into the medical profession.  Armando has a stepson, Sebastian (Edwardo Enrikez), who is estranged, but is a computer nerd and wants to catapult his father’s business, a casino, into the electronic age.  And, wouldn’t you know it, the two teenage girls eventually meet and become friends.  And then, you know what happens…but that would be telling, wouldn’t it?!

     Keep in mind, this is a musical, too, with outstanding accompaniment by the lone pianist, Juan Manuel Rivera Colón.  But the real charm of this piece is the style in which it’s performed.  It is in a popular style of video entertainment called telenovela (which I know nothing about).  But, from my perspective, it is performed with elements of the old-fashioned melodrama, soap opera, Vaudeville and Commedia dell’Arte with, as mentioned, a large dose of song and music.  And a couple of fairy tales thrown in, like Cinderella and Prince and the Pauper, for good measure.  It also comes complete with posing, double-takes, tableaus and liberal jabs at the establishment.

     You really do have to see it to enjoy it and I did.  Not everything is at it seems, and what you think you know, you don’t, and what is, probably isn’t…well, I think you get the idea.  The cast is wonderful, as is the director and music, and they certainly understand this medium.  I recommend this show.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.

Ashland Springs Hotel
I’ve managed to stay here, or at their other establishment 3 miles South of Ashland, Ashland Hills, every time I’ve come down for the last three seasons, which is twice a year.  The convenience of this Hotel (212 E. Main St.) is that it is right next door to OSF and has secured parking.  It is also walking distance to the downtown areas’ shops and restaurants and very close to the beautiful Lithia Park.  They have a very substantial complimentary breakfast in the mornings, consisting of scrambled eggs, red potatoes, muffins, bagels & toast, hot & cold cereals, fruit, and coffee, tea & juices.  They also have a very friendly and helpful staff.  I would highly recommend staying there or at their Hills location.  For more information, go to their site at


No comments:

Post a Comment