Los Angeles Theater Photo Preview: ZOOT SUIT (Center Theatre Group at the Mark Taper Forum)

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by Tony Frankel on February 6, 2017

in Theater-Los Angeles


When Zoot Suit was originally commissioned and developed by Center Theatre Group in 1978, it played for nearly a year in Los Angeles—first at the Mark Taper Forum, then at the Aquarius in Hollywood. It went on to become Broadway’s first Chicano play, was made into a major motion picture and became a cultural phenomenon.

Nearly 40 years after its world premiere, the original creator Luis Valdez will once again fill the Taper stage with a company of 25 actors, singers and dancers weaving fact and fiction together as they portray the events surrounding the infamous 1942 Sleepy Lagoon murder in Los Angeles.

In advance of opening night, production photos are now available (see below). Now in previews, Zoot Suit opens February 12, 2017 and runs through April 2, 2017 (extending three weeks from the originally announced closing date).

Demián Bichir—seen in Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, FX’s The Bridge, Showtime’s Weeds, Soderbergh’s “Che” and “A Better Life” (2012 lead actor Oscar nominee)—plays the indelible role of El Pachuco, an allegorical character of the Chicano sub-culture of the same name.

Actors Daniel Valdez and Rose Portillo, who appeared in the original production and film, return to Zoot Suit; Valdez, who originally played the leading role of Henry Reyna—leader of the 38th Street Gang—is now playing Enrique Reyna (Henry’s father), while Portillo, who played Della—his barrio girlfriend—now plays Dolores Reyna (Henry’s mother).

Filled with heart, sly wit and the infectious songs of Lalo Guerrero, Zoot Suit remains an urgent portrayal of the clash between generations in a Chicano family, the rifts between cultures in America and how racism and injustice can haunt a city and a society.

The cast also includes (in alphabetical order), Brian Abraham, Mariela Arteaga, Melinna Bobadilla, Oscar Camacho, Stephani Candelaria, Raul Cardona, Fiona Cheung, Tiffany Dupont, Caleb Foote, Holly Hyman, Kimberlee Kidd, Rocío López, Jeanine Mason, Tom G. McMahon, Andres Ortiz, Michael Naydoe Pinedo, Matias Ponce, Gilbert Saldivar, Richard Steinmetz, Evan Strand, Bradford Tatum, and Raphael Thomas.

Choreography is by Maria Torres, the music director is Daniel Valdez, scenic design is by Christopher Acebo, costume design is by Ann Closs-Farley, lighting design is by Pablo Santiago, sound design is by Philip G. Allen and projection design is by David Murakami.

The Cast

Demián Bichir

Rose Portillo, Matias Ponce, Daniel Valdez and Andres Ortiz

Matias Ponce

(front) Andres Ortiz and Oscar Camacho
(back) Rocío López, Raul Cardona, Daniel Valdez and Tiffany Dupont

Matias Ponce and Demián Bichir
(with Fiona Cheung, Holly Hyman and Mariela Arteaga)

Jeanine Mason and Matias Ponce

Richard Steinmetz, Demián Bichir, Matias Ponce (seated) and Tom G. McMahon

Demián Bichir (top) and the Cast

Demián Bichir and Matias Ponce

Richard Steinmetz, Tom G. McMahon, Tiffany Dupont and Michael Naydoe Pinedo

Demián Bichir

Bradford Tatum, Caleb Foote, Matias Ponce,
Raul Cardona, Oscar Camacho and Brian Abraham

Matias Ponce and Jeanine Mason

The Cast

Matias Ponce and Demián Bichir

Jeanine Mason, Daniel Valdez, Rose Portillo and Tiffany Dupont

Richard Steinmetz and Matias Ponce

Matias Ponce, Demián Bichir and Gilbert Saldivar, and the Cast

Matias Ponce and Tiffany Dupont

Oscar Camacho, Caleb Foote, Raul Cardona, Matias Ponce and Demián Bichir

(bottom) Tiffany Dupont, Jeanine Mason,
Demián Bichir, Matias Ponce, Daniel Valdez and Rose Portillo
(top) Evan Strand, Fiona Cheung, Mariela Arteaga and Holly Hyman

Jeanine Mason and the Cast

Demián Bichir with (L-R) Holly Hyman, Mariela Arteaga and Fiona Cheung

Demián Bichir, Matias Ponce and the Cast

photos by Craig Schwartz

Zuit Soot
Center Theatre Group
Mark Taper Forum
Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave
ends on April 2, 2017
for tickets, call 213.628.2772 or visit CTG

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