Best of the Fest

At the Hispanic Theatre Festival, all the Spanish-speaking world was a stage

Vega and Carrió deftly craft the script -- it is both metaphorical and metaphysical -- and the production is superbly integrated thanks to Vega's skillful direction. Ernesto García's sensational sound effects and music (a mix of classical, hip-hop, salsa, and more) give the production a lively, interactive appeal. Each minstrel represents a different heavenly body, with sun (Jorge Hernández), moon (Lourdes Simón), stars (Jacqueline Briceño), and earth (Vega) imaginatively personified by their respective actors. Without feeling too educational or allegorical, the play gives the impression that maybe we adults need more of a reminder than the children that the world is round and the galaxies don't revolve around us.

At the Prometeo company's offering for young audiences, the drama begins before you enter the theater. In the case of La Farsa Maravillosa del Gato con Botas ("Puss in Boots"), which will run for more than a month after the festival's conclusion, a fairy godmother (Cristina Restrepo) waves her magic wand toward would-be theatergoers, filling the intimate space with excitement and magic from the outset. Carefully and playfully crafted into verse, the classic plot (in which property and love are inextricably bound and a downtrodden young man must defeat a monster to win his princess) is closely preserved -- perhaps too much so. While the play is delightful and entertaining, the playwright and director have not entirely seized the opportunity to create something new and original that might speak to young people more intimately. With the help of Ramón Alejandro's costume design and Alfredo Triff's original musical score, the show gives us glimpses of a hypochondriac king; a prince-to-be who sports a frilly, white tutu; and a monster reminiscent of rapper Dr. Dre, but these enticing possibilities are never fully developed.

Javier Siut, a regular player with Prometeo, always brings innovative and quirky qualities to his roles; his jumpy, ill-mannered king is no exception, from his gold-lamé pants to his bouts with a royal migraine, indigestion, and so on. Likewise, Juan Pablo Zapata has definitely gotten in touch with his inner feline. He makes the most of the small stage space by crawling, stretching, leaping, and meowing to hilarious effect.

This cat has a hard time keeping his cool
This cat has a hard time keeping his cool

Details

Presented by Prometeo through August 3. Call 305-237-3263.
Miami-Dade Community College Wolfson Campus, 300 NE Second Ave., Miami

The shortcomings of La Farsa aside, Prometeo and Teatro Avante have demonstrated an aptitude for children's theater. The cozy settings and versatile actors of both troupes lend themselves well to the form. Here's hoping their festival shows won't be the last kids' plays they produce.

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