By Diego Valiente
Santa Chata and her Fantastic Failures, written by Ramona Pilar Gonzales and directed by Selene Santiago de Nasseri with puppet design by Michelle Zamora – all longtime Casa 0101 collaborators. Featuring live music and inspired by elements of Mexican-American vaudeville and carpa theater, Santa Chata marks the first production of new work at the newly renovated Casa 0101 – 2102 E. First Street, Los Angeles, CA 90033. (323) 263-7684 Runs November 11 – November 27, 2011, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm, Sundays at 5:00pm. Tickets: $20 General, $17 groups of 6 or more, $15 Boyle Heights residents. Purchase at BrownPaperTickets.com. Ramona, Selene and Michelle are an amazing team! Bravo Chicas!
The new CASA 0101 is a great space and a HUGE upgrade from the old CASA 0101 located on the same street. It was my first time at the new facility since lately I have spent most of my time in Italy and had not had the chance to visit CASA 0101. “Santa Chata and Her Fantastic Failures” premiered November 10th, 2011 and when I heard the very artistic and talented Gonzales had written another play, I was intrigued and fascinated by the idea to witness what kind of play she could conceive; so as soon as I got back to Los Angeles, CA Santa Chata was a date for me!
Santa Chata and Her Fantastic Failures is a Tongue in chic*ana Production. Ramona Gonzales is one of the founding members of tongue in chíc*ana ~ 3 chicas creating original, old-timey infused theatrics ~ The other 2 chicas are Santa Chata’s director Selene Santiago and puppet designer Michelle Zamora.
As I entered the spacey theater, I spotted the stage and its design, it made me feel excited and curious about what I was about to watch. I had decided to not read any description of the play to avoid expectations, I wanted to be surprised and the stage design was just the start, specially knowing that this production is a 99 seat plan production and the budged for such is limited.
The stage made you feel you were about to see an “epoca” play, made you feel like a child about to see a show full of imagination; all of these made me even more interested to learn what the play was about.
Nathan Inzerillo (Puglicci), Mathew Bohrer (El Misterio), Minerva Garcia (Santa Chata) & Alexis De La Rocha (La Celestina)
Mathew Bohrer (El Misterio) & Alexis De La Rocha (La Celestina)
The voice of La Celestina (Played by Alexis de la Rocha) during the death song was very noticeable. Her execution of the role was sharp, flawless and with a comedic timing that you only see in high caliber comedians; her performance is impressive. She plays a girl that can talk to spirits and shares an act with El Misterio (played by Matthew Bohrer).
Santa Chata (played by Minerva Garcia) is a theatrical alchemist who lives big, loves big and has a mystical talent for transforming leaden life mistakes into theatrical gold. She returns to her hometown after a long absence to present her newest revue: Fantastic Failures. Her homecoming stirs up ghosts from the past and she finds that merely ignoring them does not bury them. The talented Minerva “Santa Chata” is haunted by the memories of a man named Horacio (Art Parga) who constantly reminds her of “a secret” she made years ago and to this day keeps haunting her. Parga‘s acting unfortunately is forced, not credible and distracts from the rest of the great performances “Santa Chata and Her Fantastic Failures” has to offer to the audience.
Santa Chata has a dog named Pugliacci (played by Nathan Inzerillo), don’t think Mr. Inzerillo plays an actual dog; he is the puppeteer that gives Pugliacci live and gives us the best and fun puppet show ever! Pugliacci will steal your heart and you will remember this character for life.
DARLINGS! BABIES! LOVELIES!
Octavio (played by Suzanne Santos) is a theater aficionado who joins the theater company, uniting the cast with his/her love and joy for The Dia de Los Muertos Act, that Santa Chata does not wish to perform again for reasons that she keeps a secret. Santos gives an unforgettable performance, not only because she is a female portraying a very credible man but for his choices on stage and the ingenuity which she plays Octavio.
Suzanne Santos (Octavio), Mathew Bohrer (El Misterio), Nathan Inzerillo (Puglicci), Alexis De La Rocha (La Celestina),
Art Parga (Horacio), Minerva Garcia (Santa Chata) & Las Flores.