Thursday, September 15, 2011


Cast & Crew after opening night

Dreams Factory/Fabrica De Sueños

Bilingual Actors Repertory Theatre Company at Stages Theatre Center

Reviewed by Travis Michael Holder
SEPTEMBER 14, 2011
Ebenezer Scrooge finds the monkey's paw in the late Waldo Chaves Velasco's fascinating modern-classic parable, being performed on alternating weekends in Spanish and English by BARTCo, the ambitious new resident company revitalizing Paul Verdier's too-long-dormant Stages complex. Ana Martinez and Julio Villegas' English translation (reviewed) makes someone who doesn't speak Spanish long to see it performed as originally written.

There's something quite magical about how folksy Chaves Velasco's tale feels even though it's set in modern times, incorporating contemporary situations and images—including the jive-talking character of Death (Gabriela Crowe) flashily dressed as though a fugitive from a Bob Fosse musical—that camouflage but still pay homage to the play's allegorical themes. As dying self-made tycoon Don Carlos (Miguel Collado) wrings his hands gleefully at the thought of earning $75 million last year, the lateness of a tenant's $400 rent payment almost sends him into cardiac arrest. As he considers a plea to heaven to absolve him for his selfishness and greed before he meets his maker, a plan unfolds to leave behind a "Dream Factory," providing unlimited funds to help others realize their desires. "It's hard to dream," he tells his faithful servant Luis (Gustavo Ranieri), "if you know they can't come true."

Luis does his best to provide solutions for the unrequited wishes of several clients, including those of an unsuccessful politician (Ricardo Salcido), a protégé (Omar Sanchez) longing for the demise of his benefactor, and a woman (Annakate Chappell) who begs to cure her lover's terminal illness. All requests granted, of course, twist into tragedies and prove Chaves Velasco's belief that there is an ultimate price for unreasonable life choices.

As director, Villegas guides his committed ensemble through a quaintly old-fashioned presentational style that plays beautifully against Bob Grule's detailed ultra-chic office set and under Bobby Fromer's chameleonic lighting. Still, it doesn't take long to realize how much more fluid it all would be if the actors were speaking Spanish, allowing the romantic sounds of the play's original language to accentuate and validate the boldly whimsical tone of the staging.

Presented by Bilingual Actors Repertory Theatre Company at Stages Theatre Center, 1540 N. McCadden Pl., L.A. Sept. 2-Oct. 9. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 & 8 p.m. (Spanish and English versions alternate weekly.)

COME AND SEE US! Box office: (323) 465-1010

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