A Night at the Theater in the City of Angels

Barefoot Boy with Shoes On

By Frankie Firme
Published on LatinoLA: February 7, 2006

A Night at the Theater in the City of Angels

Orale, Mi Gente. This piece is going somewhere else artistically, but it still calls out for your attention and appreciation of the Arts. Art being a reflection of life, our lives can only be enriched by exposure to it, and we can make it a most precious gift to future generations if we nurture and preserve it as the gift that was given to us.

That being said, despite numerous music happenings in the City of Angels, myself, my good friend music producer/promoter Steven Chavez, and our Ladies, decided to take a little break from music this week~end and step out to the Theater on a Saturday night.

Now, a few of my friends asked me on Sunday morning "What's so good about seeing a movie when you can catch live action at a concert or dance show?" My response was to chuckle at their immediate impression of the word "Theater", then explain that this "theater" was a live action stageplay, and one that has been talked about for a few months before making its debut on the West Coast, and one that centers on the drama of Latino life.

Latino life...not the filtered, stereotypical, "everybody's beautiful and grateful to be here" television or magazine advertisement version, but rather the drama of the unlucky, the reality of the street some are imprisoned in, and the familiarity of consequences many of us deny identification to...especially in English language drama for those who wish to distance themselves from the Gente, unless it's story of success.

So it was, on a beautiful Southern California spring evening in the City of Angels,
Edwin Sanchez's "Barefoot Boy with Shoes On" premiered at The Hollywood Underground Theater off the Sunset Strip.

Centering around a young Latino in the inner city, the frustration and hopelessness of a dysfunctional family & relationship is brought out and revealed in stark naked reality by Ray Oriel's outstanding performance as ROSARIO CORTEZ, a young window washer with dreams of a better life for him and his unborn son. Many times during the performance, I saw audience members moved by the troubled character of ROSARIO, and his ending line was.....well, you got to be there to feel it!

Adding to the drama is an outstanding ensemble of supporting characters that honestly bring the art of the Thespian to a touching level in their portrayals.

Minerva Vier plays VICKY, a sultry, sassy, and ever sarcastic street smart Latina vixen, and ROSARIO's girlfriend. 9 months pregnant and connected to Rosario only by court ordered domestic violence counseling, VICKY takes a perverse pleasure in taunting ROSARIO by insisting that her unborn child is not his, even to the point of moving a new man into her home prior to the baby's arrival.

Jerry Oshinsky plays Dr. Morton, the unemotional, unethical, and detached court ordered psychiatrist who takes pleasure in taunting ROSARIO with the fact that he has the power to send ROSARIO to prison, while secretly plotting with VICKY to sell the unborn baby to a childless couple.

Gil Bernardy plays POPS , ROSARIO'S alcholic and abusive father who is addicted to porno and expects ROSARIO to take care of him, as he falsely believes he is taking care of BUELO, ROSARIO'S senile and feeble minded grandfather, played by Toneey Acevedo. Both characters are all ROSARIO has to call family after the death of his mother, yet they are a constant source of annoyance and frustration that makes one wonder why ROSARIO stays there.

Probably the most compelling and influential character in ROSARIO's troubled life is Morris, an older, homosexual, and well to do political executive who breaks down ROSARIO's traditional Latino homophobic impressions after a violent introduction, and becomes more than a friend. Played to the utmost with true dramatic style by Nick Salamone, MORRIS engages ROSARIO's heart after confessing that he is mourning a former young lover, who ROSARIO reminds him of, and who is dying of aids. His philosophical renditions and interpretations of ROSARIO's life keep ROSARIO coming back , not for what one might think, and in a most dramatic climax to the play, ROSARIO admits to MORRIS "I need you"...and adds to the suprise ending, that brought a standing ovation at the conclusion of this outstanding performance, that I must say brought a lump to my throat.

Not having been to a play in almost 25 years since "Zoot Suit", I felt indulged as a fortunate member of the audience.

One must appreciate the talent and performance of the actors that keep you glued to your seat. Live acting is much more demanding than film, as there are no "cuts" in the action, no editing, no mastering, no extra takes,no electronic or computer enhancements. What you see is what you get...and "Barefoot boy with shoes on" gives you more than you expected!

Just pure talent and non stop performance in a medium that draws the audience in and makes them part of the moment...ever a contribution to a memory if the story, plot, actors and production combine.

"Barefoot boy with shoes on" is a vibrant, artistic combination that I will always remember.

I highly encourage mi Gente and anybody else to check this one out....

...You will leave with a different interpretation of the word "Theater", after you've seen this one!

Note: "Barefoot boy with shoes on" will run performances on the West Coast in Hollywood
up until March 11th. Seating is limited, but worth being there!

For more info, call 323-965-1029 or 323-466-5830. Tell 'em you heard from Frankie Firme and LatinoLA.com !

About Frankie Firme:
Frankie Firme's website: www.frankiefirme.50megs.com

e~mail: FrankieFirme@mail.com

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