Behind the Scenes Drama
a kate west review
by Nancy De Los Santos-Reza, with Tomas Benitez
CAP Plaza de la Raza Youth Theater Program
directed by BJ Dodge; choreographed by Marvin Tunney
at Plaza de la Raza, Margo Albert Theater
3540 Mission Road, Los Angeles, CA 90031
contact (323) 223-2475 or www.plazadelaraza.org
MAY 7 - 7:30 PM at Plaza de la Raza, Margo Albert Theater
MAY 8 - 2:00 PM at Plaza de la Raza, Margo Albert Theater
MAY 8 - 7:30 PM at Plaza de la Raza, Margo Albert Theater
MAY 14 - 7:30 PM at Plaza de la Raza, Margo Albert Theater
MAY 15 - 7:30 PM at Plaza de la Raza, Margo Albert Theater
MAY 28 & 29 - 7:30 PM at
Roy and Edna Disney Cal Arts Theater
631 West 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
The historical Plaza de la Raza is one of those hidden Angelino treasures that you don't know about it until someone brings you to it. Housed in one of Los Angeles' traditionally neglected playgrounds in Lincoln Park, Plaza has undergone a few revitalizations. And now, by combining its 40 year saga with CalArts Community Arts Partnership of 20 years, you get a sprawling tale of a neighborhood's labor of love. Margo Albert, famed Mexican-born movie actress (married to Eddie Albert), sold her jewelry to keep the performing arts school going back in the 1960's and it has been inspiring young people ever since.
Nancy De Los Santos-Reza, with Tomas Benitez, struggle to put all the components into a cohesive whole and under the direction of BJ Dodge, cast community youth from the program to depict their own origins in, fittingly, "Behind the Scenes Drama". Most of these kids are middle schoolers and from varied backgrounds, so you will see some unevenness. It's also tough to work in all the politics and red tape and still make a dramatically interesting story, so the piece lags at times. And it is naturally rife with inside jokes and inner cultural references, however you do learn an awful lot about the site and definitely gain an appreciation for what Plaza has been doing all these years.
Interweaving, musicians, actors, teachers, parents and of course, the heart of the program, the students, the play demonstrates an intense communal love of the arts and barrio pride and indeed is comprised of alum, current staff and CalArts representatives. The players themselves practically glow with excitement, especially during small moments taken from real life memories and inspirations. It may be a little hard to sit through it all, but while the story could use some editing, the production staff is to be commended for so obviously putting heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears into so personal a recital. Can't wait to see what the future holds for them.
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