Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
Actors' Playhouse Presents Havana Bourgeois
Also see John's review of Yankee Tavern
Havana Bourgeois is the story of the Cuban Revolution told from the point of view of an advertising agency in Havana. It follows the agency's middle-class employees from 1958-1960 during the transition from capitalism to communism. Today, Cuba is the only authoritarian country in the Americas. According to Wikipedia, Cuba is constitutionally defined as a "socialist state guided by the principles of Jose Marti, and the political ideas of Marx, Engels and Lenin." The present constitution ascribes the role of the Communist Party of Cuba to be the "leading force of society and of the state." In their book "Corruption in Cuba," authors Sergio Diaz-Briquets and Jorge F. Pérez-López claim that Castro's state-run monopolies, cronyism and lack of accountability turned Cuba into one of the world's most corrupt states. The Cuban government has also been accused of numerous human rights abuses, including torture, arbitrary imprisonment, unfair trials and extra-judicial executions.
Cuban born actor and playwright Carlos Lacámara wrote Havana Bourgeois for the American audience. He states, "What most Americans don't know is that it took Fidel Castro about two years to change Cuba from a capitalist country to the Marxist dictatorship it is today." His goal is to have people recognize this universal story as one that could easily have been one that could happen to them. The play was inspired by Lacámara's own father's escape from Cuba, and in his own words "is dedicated to all the mothers and fathers that risked everything to get their children out of Cuba so they could live free."
This Actors' Playhouse production stars noted TV actor Danny Pino, who currently appears in the CBS series "Cold Case." Pino is no stranger to south Florida as he attended Miami Coral Park High School and is a graduate of Florida International University. The action of Havana Bourgeois takes place in the art studio of the Calvo & Associates Advertising Agency in Havana, Cuba, between the fall of 1958 and the summer of 1960. Costuming by Ellis Tillman is quite watchable, as it artfully reflects the changing times through fashion. The set is well suited to the action of the play, and reflects the changes of the outside world with minor changes from scene to scene as well.
David Arrisco has wisely chosen Danny Pino as his leading man Alberto Varela. The handsome Pino is a talented actor and as comfortable on stage as in front of a camera. James Puig as the colorfully irreverent Panchito brings humor and warmth to the story. Jennifer De Castroverde is lovely and vulnerable as Sandra. She is especially good in the final scene, as Sandra ponders the cost of freedom. Jossie Harris-Thacker has strong presence as the prickly Margo, though a moment or two of softness would add humanity to her character. This production is well done and, though a tad long, is worth seeing for its sound acting and worthy subject matter.
Havana Bourgeois will be appearing through June 7, 2009 at the Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre. Actors' Playhouse is a Florida Presenting Cultural Organization, and a nonprofit professional regional theatre, hiring local and non-local Equity and non-Equity actors. In addition to its Mainstage season, Actors' Playhouse produces a year-round, five-show season of Musical Theatre for Young Audiences, a National Children's Theatre Festival, and a Theatre Conservatory and Summer Camp Program. Actors' Playhouse is located at 280 Miracle Mile in Coral Gables, Florida. Information and tickets may be obtained by contacting the theater at their box office at (305) 444-9293, or online at www.actorsplayhouse.org.
*Denotes a member of Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage managers in the United States.