Every family has its share of drama. For the Candelarias it could cost them their dreams.
That's the premise behind the current TheatreWorks production, Somewhere, at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Art. It's a play within a play—a story of a Puerto Rican family of performers hoping to make it onto a Broadway stage or perhaps the filming of West Side Story. However, they find themselves uprooted when the government condemns their home to build Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City.
For Tony award-winner Priscilla Lopez who plays Inez Candelaria, the matriarch, her years on Broadway are evident as she effortlessly delivers the witty lines written by her nephew and playwright Matthew Lopez.
Inez has big dreams for her three cute and melodramatic kids and she reminds them that all they need is "talent, hard work and good luck."
"What did you do today to make sure your tomorrow is better than your yesterday?" she asks.
Also trying to help his family dream is son Alejandro, played by Michael Rosen, who literally can't afford to dream because he has to work to help pay the bills. Rosen's portrayal impressively transmits Alejandro' anguish at missing auditions and opportunities, and even arouses pity when Alejandro refuses to join his family in dance.
Local Santa Clara University senior Michelle Cabinian plays Inez' daughter Rebecca and she definitely captivates and charms. In one great scene Rebecca dances her way into your heart when she reluctantly sets the table to the wonderful choreography of Greg Graham.
Eddie Gutierrez plays the little brother Francisco, who wants to be a movie star.
Gutierrez does a great job of taking the audience into Cisco's fantasy world of gangster and cowboys, and makes the character's enthusiasm palpable.
The character of childhood friend Jaime MacRae is played by Leo Ash Evens. Jaime was going to be a performer, but instead got a job behind the scenes working for choreographer and director Jerome Robbins. This thrills the Candelarias who see it as an opportunity. However this leads to some tension as Jaime tries to convince Alejandro not to miss this chance. Evens shines in a contentious duologue with Rosen, where it feels like you are genuinely watching two old friends arguing.
All of this drama is set in a small NYC apartment where there may not be space for a bed for Cisco, but there's room for music and dance.
Director Giovanna Sardelli did a fantastic job interpreting Lopez' script and instructing the actors. A lot of credit has to go to the scene designer Andrea Bechert who thought about every picture frame, clothing line and flower bed; costume designer Cathleen Edwards who made the cast actually look like characters in West Side Story; and sound designer Jeremy Lee, who along with Sardelli, had to find Latin and American music to set the sound of the times.
Lighting designer Steven Mannshardt brought your attention to the right place at the right time, including the surprise climax near the end of the Second Act.
Lopez' Somewhere emphasizes that happiness is where your heart is; where you dream. For the Candelarias it's performing. For others, happiness lies somewhere else.
It's like Evens' character says near the end of the Second Act: "It's like what it feels in your perfect dreams."
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