Evangeline, The Queen of Make-Believe: A lighthearted take on politics and family

by Angela Imperial

Staff Writer

pLAywriting in the city

Evangeline, the Queen of Make-Believe, a collaborative venture that includes About Productions’s Theresa Chavez and Rose Portillo, and Louie Perez of Los Lobos, is an enjoyably light take on the lives of a Mexican-American family dealing with death and war while attempting to find their own identity.  Loosely based on the Los Lobos song Evangeline and with the creative forces of Chavez, Portillo and Perez, began to create the narrative of the play two years ago. It includes many songs from the Grammy Award Winning duo David Hidalgo and Louie Perez, a musical team that started in high school and led to the legendary Mexican- American group Los Lobos. It also includes songs from their off-shoot project called Latin Boys. Claudia Gonzalez-Tenorio of CAVA is the plays fairy godmother of sorts singing to the characters as well as the audience.

With a live band the musical element of the play was spectacular and entertaining, the set was whimsical and fun. It was a throwback to the 60’s, including rotating pieces taking you from the home of the Ibarra’s to the go-go club where Evangeline discovers her “calling” in life.  Set Designer Francois-Pierre Couture’s psychedelic take on the story was reminiscent of a vibrant 1960’s game show. It takes the audience on a harmless acid trip that is cut short by pseudo dramatic subject matter of the play.

Although the play has political undertones that include the famous student walk outs of the 60’s and the Vietnam War, it does not dive too deep onto either subject. It is more focused on the plight of a teenage girl known as Evangeline. Her journey begins after her father dies from a sudden heart attack forcing her to become the homemaker of the family while her mother must take a low paying factory job. Drawn to dancing, she takes on a job as go-go dancer at night.  The audience watches as Evangeline, played by an enthusiastic Catherine Lidstone, her performance is entertaining yet it lacked a certain aspect that comes with being a Mexican-American raised in East Los Angeles. It left one questioning the casting, are there really no Mexican-American actresses out there who sing, act and dance?  There are plenty, I happen to know a few. Karen Anzoategui’s delivers an emotionally charged performance  as the busybody cousin showcasing her range as a true comedienne and dramatic actor. Daniel Chacon and Jorge Diaz stand out as the males in the play, both leaving the audience laughing and rooting for the underdog aspects of both their characters. Overall the play is fun and witty, and will make you move to the beats of the band.  The play closes June 2nd, so put on your boots that were made for walking and shimmy over to the Bootleg Theater!

Evangeline is running at the Bootleg Theater until June 2nd. For more info and tickets please call (213) 389-3856 or www.aboutpd.org