The Gay Blades of Theatre New West: Ole!

Viva la gay blade. Have you ever dreamed how lovely Edgar Estrada might look in a flowing, provocative gown? Wake up and smell the roses….

Chris Ramirez, Edgar Estrada, Armando Monsivais, Jose Quinones

Chris Ramirez, Edgar Estrada, Armando Monsivais, Jose Quinones

Men on the Verge of a His-panic Breakdown runs through August 31 at Teatro Dallas off I-35, and it’s currently one of the best stage shows on Dallas area boards. Directed con brio by longtime thespian Joe Watts, his transplanted Houston company Theatre New West presents Guillermo Reyes 1997 play with mucho gusto and timely relevance for today’s immigration debate and LGBT rights. American Theatre Magazine has declared Reyes one of the “world’s finest stage writers,” with good reason. Pathos, humor and vibrant humanity infuse the series of vignettes revealing a bounty of perspectives on gay Hispanic immigrant life. Reyes’ vivid, ever-changing palette of love, loss, humor and survival fills the stage with masterful strokes. Originally conceived as a one-man show, Greater Tuna style, for the Dallas production Watts has assembled an engaging, diverse cast of four, equally at ease with creating scenic reality or direct audience address.

Recent Baylor graduate Chris Ramirez defines a clear arc with the only multi-vignette character, plucky immigrant “kept boy” Federico, flowing seamlessly from bubbly naiveté to calculated opportunism without missing a beat. Jose Quinones interjects a smooth but creepy nuance with his performances, particularly in the vignette “Demon Roommate From Hell” (“Smoke all you like, just cover your damn genitals.”). Armando Monsivais plumbs lyrical depth and dignity with his characters, from portraying the painful rejection of a gay son by a Cuban immigrant father to the audience-interactive ‘challenges’ of a gay ESL instructor. Edgar Estrada, ever ebullient and disarmingly handsome, wraps the audience around his wickedly magic fingers as he bids farewell to “Sugar Daddy” and later creates a searing, tragic portrait in drag, worthy of Mimi in La Boheme.

Teatro Dallas’ intimate, high-ceiling space lends itself well to the dramatic ambience director Watts defines with a light but deft touch. Farcical at times, the play never loses track of the lives impacted by unfolding events.

Playwright Guillermo Reyes

Playwright Guillermo Reyes

Watts steers clear of melodrama or tragedy with forthright style, allowing the rare beauty of Guillermo Reyes’ script and the reality it evokes to function as honest mirror to life experience, all emotions intact. Theatre New West is a welcome addition to the DFW thespian scene.

Playwright Guillermo Reyes will attend both August 23 and 24 performances with talkbacks. Theatre New West presents a reception in Reyes’ honor August 24, 2-4pm, at the Latino Cultural Center, 2600 Live Oak Street in Dallas, public welcome!

 Men On the Verge of A His-panic Breakdown runs through August 31, 2013 at Teatro Dallas, 1331 Record Crossing Road, Dallas TX 75235.

TICKETS: 214-443-8181

Tone Frey designed and executed lights and sound, designed the graphics and stage managed the show: a master bricoleur

 NYTimes’1997 review of the 47th Street Theater production:

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