Theater Recommendation: WHITTIER BOULEVARD (Latino Theater Company at Los Angeles Theatre Center)

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by Tony Frankel on April 29, 2023

in Theater-Los Angeles

WITTIER AND WHITTIER

“Let’s take a trip down Whittier Boulevard! ¡Arriba, Arriba!” sang Chicano surf-guitar band Thee Midniters in 1965. Inspired by a classic film named for a different famous boulevard, Latino Theater Company kicks off its 2023 Spring Season with an original, satirical comedy that takes its title from the 14-mile heart of East L.A. that has been a hub of commerce, culture and cruising for over 50 years. The world premiere of Whittier Boulevard, created by Evelina FernándezSal LópezGeoffrey RivasLucy Rodriguez and Jose Luis Valenzuela — the five original, founding ensemble members of the company — begins tonight April 29 through May 28 at The Los Angeles Theatre Center.

Geoffrey Rivas, Sal López, Lucy RodriguezEvelina Fernández

Starring Fernández, Lopez, Rivas and Rodriguez and directed by Valenzuela, Whittier Boulevard is a funny and poignant commentary on ageism, presented in Latino Theater Company’s signature heightened and highly theatrical style.

Lucy Rodriguez, Evelina Fernández,, Geoffrey RivasLucy Rodriguez, Evelina Fernández,, Geoffrey Rivas

In this ensemble-devised work, the company uses its trademark blend of comedy, drama, music, dance and theatrical magic to transport us to Los Angeles in the year 2042. Years of fires, torrential rain, anarchy and bloodshed have led to a totalitarian city-state where the elderly disappear, their stories forgotten. When authorities make a surprise visit to the home of faded Chicana starlet Veronica Del Rio on the eve of her 75th birthday, she enlists the help of her loudmouth nurse, a kindhearted policeman-fan, and a down-on-his-luck poet. Will Veronica disappear and be forgotten before she finds true love?

Lucy Rodriguez and Geoffrey RivasSal López and Lucy Rodriguez

“This ensemble of actors has been working together for the last 38 years,” says Valenzuela. “In this play we look at ageism, but we also explore finding the divine within ourselves so that we can create a better society. It’s fun and campy, but we also address serious social issues, such as the current whittling away of civil rights in this country.”

Evelina Fernández and Lucy RodriguezSal López, Evelina Fernández, Geoffrey Rivas and Lucy Rodriguez

Whittier Boulevard features original music and sound design by Robert Revell, and choreography by Urbanie Lucero. The creative team includes scenic designer François-Pierre Couture; lighting designer Pablo Santiago; projection designers Yee Eun Nam and Yuki Izumihara; and costume designer Naila Aladdin Sanders. The production managers are Nathan Edelman and May Fei.

Sal López and Evelina FernándezEvelina Fernández and Sal López

The play was workshopped as a streaming presentation for RE:Encuentro 2021, a virtual festival that featured 16 Latinx companies and artists from across the U.S. in digital residence at the Los Angeles Theatre Center.

Evelina Fernández, Geoffrey Rivas, Lucy Rodriguez and Sal LópezEvelina Fernández, Sal López,, Lucy Rodriguez, Geoffrey Rivas

The Latino Theater Company is dedicated to providing a world-class arts center for those pursuing artistic excellence; a laboratory where both tradition and innovation are honored and honed; and a place where the convergence of people, cultures and ideas contribute to the future. Now in its 38th year, LTC has operated The Los Angeles Theatre Center, a landmark building in Downtown’s Historic Core, since 2006.

photos by Grettel Cortes Photography

Whittier Boulevard
Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St.
April 29 thru May 28, 2023
Thurs-Sat at 8; Sun at 4; Mon at 8 (May 15)
for tickets ($22–$48), call 213.489.0994 or visit LATC
parking ($8) with validation at Joe’s Parking structure, just south of the theater

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