La crisis de identidad y el equilibrio entre lo personal, laboral y familiar fueron los elementos que inspiraron al productor y director mexicano Salomón Askenazi para la creación del largometraje ´El Rey de la Fiesta´

Disponible en cines a nivel nacional a partir del 20 de enero

El rey de la fiesta película mexicana muestra la vida al paralelo de los hermanos gemelos Héctor y Rafael. Entrados ya en sus cincuenta y tantos años, Héctor es hombre de familia a cargo del negocio familiar y Rafael lo opuesto: Matrimonios fallidos, fiesta, negocios raros y vive en casa de su papá. En uno de sus arranques, Rafael decide volar a Hawaii. y el avión sufre un accidente. Al ver esto en las noticias, Héctor decide hacerse pasar por su hermano asumiendo que éste falleció.

Este filme escrito, dirigido y co-producido por Salomón Askenazi (Dos veces tú) y musicalización de Daniel Adissi muestra otra cara del cine mexicano dando un respiro de las películas "chilangas" y el énfasis en la Ciudad de México y su idiosincracia. 

Tuvimos la oportunidad de platicar con Askenazi y conocer el origen de estos hermanos y el Rey de la Fiesta por supuesto, Desde Otro Cero...

Fueron varias inspiraciones que se unieron, estaba en una época en la que acababa de nacer mi segundo hijo y estaba en esa crisis de la mediana edad adelantada en la que por un lado era un hombre de familia y por tro, con mi carrera de cineasta entonces estaba sintiendo que estaba viviendo una doble vida. Comparte Salomón.

Pareciera que esta película se diseñó durante la pandemia por el tema de la identidad tan profundo que toca pero no. Iniciaron en 2019 y coincidió con todo lo que se vino. Al principio el guión buscaba un equilibrio en la vida y fue al avanzar el proyecto que se agregó el elemento de los gemelos. Además el género no es claro. No drama, no comedia, no thriller y con frases del filósofo Alan Watts como aderezo y la gran musicalización de Daniel Adissi que redondea el sentimiento en veces lúgubre de El rey...

Me interesa hacer una mezcla de música americana, indie, mexicana y así. Hice un equipo muy padre con Daniel Adissi y Jacobo Fasca quien es el supervisor musical. Entre los tres hicimos la curaduría de la mñusica. Siempre he sido fan de los soundtracks, es todo un evento escucharlos, se siente una vibra más como de una película de Hollywood con la música bien cargada.

Hablando de cine mexicano, copias, distribución y ahora plataformas digitales, la pregunta obligada es, 

¿Es compicado hacer cine en México?

Yo siento en mi experiencia que es un pais que tiene muchos apoyos al cine. Creo que el EFICINE es un apoyo muy especial. En pocos lugares hay apoyos así de generosos. Es un apoyo muy libre que confía mucho en el creador. No me quejaría para nada de la situación en México en tema de producción. Pero en temas de distribución, si es muy difícil hacer negocio redondo con las películas. Es un círculo. Ni a la gente le gusta mucho el cine mexicano siento. O, no llegan todas las opciones que hay al cine. Pero la realidad es que la calidad es muy alta porque estamos ganando festivales y Oscares por todos lados.

Precisamente porque Salomón Askenazi no cae en géneros definidos, los distribuidores no hallan en que casillero meter su trabajo aunque el director asegura que el público siempre se encuentra.

El gusto es que la gente se vaya a su casa pensando en algo y que no sea entretenimiento puro

El Rey de la Fiesta estrena a nivel nacional el 20 de enero. Acude y apoya al cine mexicano.

Sigue los proyectos de esta productora en @fosforescenteMX 


Top San Diego Theatre Picks -From Another Zero-

Six titles, honorable mentions, and what is peeking my curiosity for 2022

by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

In this now Omicron era and God knows what Greek letter is next, some companies around the country have announced cancellations and postponements due to the new variant, I urge everyone to support their local theatres, be safe and follow the guidelines so we can continue navigating these waves while enjoying great works.

Revisiting the beginning of 2021 where the world was still shaky and planning for a possible reopening and then made it happen. Broadway waited but the little guys started as soon as the green lights went on. Companies Off-Broadway and non-profit theatres who furloughed more than half their staff and were dark for over 18 months, bravely started the waive and I feel we need to talk about it more and continue to mention it.

San Diego started going back to live shows around June-July. The Old Globe took the leap and welcomed back audiences with a series of outdoor concerts that eased them back in. It is so fun to now remember and revisit the feelings during these reopenings, seeing actors back onstage working, and theatre staff as well. So, props to The Globe for this creative and entertaining way to have us sit next to strangers again and cheer on these intimate settings with Carmen Cusack and Eden Espinosa (sadly, I missed Solea Pfeiffer who kicked off the series).

Talk about a From Another Zero with these reopenings! A reset for sure but as we always say around here, you cannot just restart From zero... it has to be From ANOTHER zero. Anyway, here are the top picks:

1) WhitchlandBackyard Renaissance Theatre. 
This was a gamechanger starting off the experience at the very entrance of the venue and having audiences sign a waiver that involved spirits who may be leaving with you, fun scares, and weird happenings outside the premises. A solid cast and also fun scares during the performance. Whitchland brought the breath and life back into our souls by having us literally grasp the live show and theatregoing experience in this original way.

2) The Drowning Girls- Onstage Playhouse.
This was my first time ever at Onstage. I always appreciate a dive into the Artistic Director's process to pick a show for a season and James P. Darvas did just that not only with him directing the piece but by sharing a video on the company's website, explaining why he decided to stage it. And hello? three talented actresses in full-on wedding dress attire inside tubs splashing around the whole performance centered on murder and true events. The creativity, the resolving, and the educating... yes, please!

3) The Mineola Twins- MOXIE Theatre.
MOXIE KILLED IT with online showings throughout the shutdown and welcomed back audiences with a hilarious piece with solid twin sister drama. The set design, the ensemble, seeing new faces like Phillip Magin and Desireé Clarke wrapped in Samantha Ginn's masterful portrayal of the twins, made this comeback a win.
4) Azul- Diversionary Theatre.
What an absolute joy this was. Full of tenderness and love. An accurate picture of the different meanings that involve migrating to the US and dealing not only with your culture shock but your kids being American and Americanized while still figuring out their identity and heritage. Just beautiful. 
Also... their last week of performances offered a streaming opportunity, something that is difficult to put together with rights, costs, unions, and all that -not fun at all- stuff, but worth considering during these challenging and uncertain times.

5) Ben Butler- North Coast Repertory Theatre.
I love me a good solid historic chapter. Especially the not-so-talked-about ones. North Coast does it again with the wonderful set design the spot-on casting and amazing portrayals.
6) The Garden- La Jolla Playhouse.
The set design of a practically working garden made it all worth it here. The surprise factor and the storytelling from a Black woman's perspective filled part of the large void in this type of narrative that has to be represented more. A diverse take, a cast with women, directed by women, and a creative team with mostly women. Cannot get better than that.

Honorable Mentions
2021 welcomed me to the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle and I appreciated the art form even more. It got me to see pieces from companies I had not seen before as well as an added enjoyment of my colleague's work, camaraderie, and words. I praise all the companies and their continuous effort to keep this community going. Making theatre is no easy task, here are my honorable mentions for what I got to see in 2021.
Hair marked the comeback for The Globe using their outdoor theatre for a non-Shakespeare show that had not been done in decades. This adaptation had a wonderful, very capable, and prepared young cast. I did not know how I would feel about this version and I was pleasantly surprised. Andrew Polec who played tribe leader, Berger, migrated to the Christmas favorite Grinch as the green meanie, bringing the show to a new artistic level as did the cast changes adding a more diverse and fresher feel.

I had a wonderful Instagram Live with Andrew about that and you can catch it here.
A very much needed and titanic effort of curating these new works into a hybrid model of in-person and online readings. A+ with a glowing star. Many works come from these readings and I cannot wait to see more of them fully produced onstage. I always say the pieces are already there, it is just a matter of looking for them. Not necessarily commissioning them. Yes, I said it. Read it again.
Even though it was not a full on-stage production it was a creative, original way to present the reading of a wonderful, solid piece.

I also have to say that I absolutely loved Dancing Lessons at North Coast Rep. I understand it is a piece that has been produced many times all around. I had never seen it before and I enjoyed it a lot. Did not have the opportunity to write about it but it does deserve its mention.

What is peeking my interest -at the top of my head- for 2022?

-Sapience by Diana Burbano. MOXIE Theatre will be partnering with TuYo Theatre to present this world premiere. After reading the play and having this vision in my brain, I cannot wait to see how they resolve it onstage.

-Trouble in Mind by Alice Childress and El Borracho by Tony Meneses at The Old Globe. Trouble in Mind is one of my favorite plays. I saw it at MOXIE in 2015 and it was directed by Delicia Turner-Sonnenberg who is directing it here too. I wonder what creative takes she will have this time around and at this venue. Very curious. Borracho (drunk) just by the title alone has me wondering, I love Eddie Torres' work and I am very eager to see what this work will bring to the theatre table.

-Everybody's Talking About Jamie at The Ahmanson. Aghhh Let us see how January plays out and hopefully this will continue to be on the schedule. I have been following this musical since its rehearsals in London all the way to the movie on Amazon (that left me meh) so I cannot wait for the North American Premiere of the Hit West End Musical.

What did you see in 2021? what were your favorites?


Ezequiel Scrooge delivers Christmas Past, Present and Future at Chula Vista's Onstage Playhouse

A People's Cuban Christmas Tale is Currently Running Until December 19

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

People who are looking for something that is definitely more festive and with a less gloomy tone  than the original A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, A People's Cuban Christmas Tale is the show for you.

Richard P. Trujillo and Jose Balistrieri in A People's Cuban Christmas Tale. Photo Onstage Playhouse

Herbert Siguenza who is known for adapting the classics into different cultural settings came up with very clever adjustments of the timeless story. Starting with the name, Ezequiel Scrooge, played by Richard P. Trujillo (not Eh-Scrooge, because you know, the accent) is a sugar cane mogul running the business at the expense of everybody but him. Diving into the "Cuba Libre" longing of its people with, of course, the US meddling on behalf of the country's own interests -per usual-.

The names of the beloved characters got a Cuban makeover and have been adapted to Spanish. Bob Cratchet in this setting is Roberto Cruz (Javier Guerrero) the mega underpaid and exploited loyal employee with a son that suffers from an illness that cannot be treated due to the lack of funds. Scrooge's nephew Fred in this play is a woman named Alicia (Sandra Ruiz), who is married to American businessman Alfredo (Nick Young) and they have two kids. Roberto has three kids and the oldest is Marta, (Hannah Trujillo) a young woman working at the famous Hotel Nacional as a housekeeper AND prostitute to the American tourists. Well-known realities are weaved into the story giving audiences a glance at Cuba's struggles through Siguenza's pen.

As soon as people come into the theatre, they are musically greeted by Angelica Cardona and Juan Carlos Blanco who also musicalize the show with Caribbean flare and round out a pleasant experience.

The ghosts of Christmas present, past, and future are creatively staged with historic characters like Cuban poet Jose Martí (Sandra Ruiz), a guajiro (Cuban agricultural worker(Jose Balistrieri), a slave, a guerrilla soldier (Kandace Crystal), and of course, Jacobo Marley`s ghost. All the interpretations onstage are passionate and plain out great showing Director James P. Darvas's sensibility and how he channels that into the staging. Richard P. Trujillo at times is a little extra but he also combines that with comedic ability and it sort of evens out. Paying attention to the details, Trujillo has a tattoo of a cross on one arm and the word sangre (blood) on the other arm, I would interpret that as "la sangre de Cristo" in the catholic religion... so seeing that as he interprets Scrooge scared out of his nightie running around with these ghosts was surreal. Yes, people who read my views know I pay attention to the most random details.

Jose Balistrieri Nick Young Richard P. Trujillo Javier Guerrero. Photo Onstage Playhouse

Anyway, back to the show, the set design by Duane McGregor consists of Ezequiel's room, a lavish dining room that morphs into Roberto Cruz's humble dining area and other magical story settings is dynamic, and feels authentic. The door to the theatre is a Cuban flag created with an impressive chalk-like look. The cherry on top is Natalia Araiza´s stylish costume design gifting us with variety and realness.

Both kids Belen Siguenza and Sandino Tizoc Declan Beltrán are absolutely wonderful. Tizoc as Timoteo aka Tiny Tim is debuting in this piece and it does not show because his work is just perfect. It is surprising to see sometimes with children actors. These two knocked it out of the park.

This is a wonderful staging with a solid company of actors. Onstage Playhouse does it right again.

A People's Cuban Christmas Tale is currently performing until December 19. Tickets are $25 dollars and can be purchased here.

Shameless plug: listen to our latest podcast episode where we talk to two wonderful cast members of She The People with The Second City HERE

New Village Arts Innovates this Holiday Season Presenting the Hilarious

1222 Oceanfront: A Black Family Christmas
Playing at the Carlsbad Venue Until December 26 

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

Deja Fields, Kory LaQuess Pullam, Durwood Murray, Frankie Alicea-Ford, Milena (Sellers) Phillips, Victor Morris, Portia Gregory, and “Joon”.
Photo by Rich Soublet

The holiday season brings many offerings from Christmas carols, photo ops, light trails, and of course, theatre. I mentioned in one of my Views that during the holidays, audiences have the option to see versions and versions of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol front and center. It is not a bad thing, it is just a given that follows tradition. New Village Arts within the merry mix debuted with 1222 Oceanfront: A Black Family Christmas, a new holiday musical written by San Diego playwright Dea Hurston and devised by Frankie Alicea-Ford, Kevin “Blax” Burroughs, Milena (Sellers) Phillips, and Dea Hurston. Directed by one of San Diego's best, Delicia Turner-Sonnenberg, the musical features original music by Milena (Sellers) Phillips with adaptation and direction by JohnMark McGaha.

This novelty is a great example of representation and the bridge to produce different stories with different-looking families. 1222 Oceanfront shows and proves that family issues that arise within the holiday gatherings, are one and the same regardless of color. So why not produce more of them?

Frankie Alicea-Ford and Kory LaQuess Pullam. Photo by Rich Soublet
Dorothy Black (Milena (Sellers) Phillips) is a widow and mom of two grown men that live their own lives but have the Christmas tradition of coming back home to Carlsbad for the holidays and feast on memories, practices, and family love. Junior (Kory LaQuess Pullam) likes things the way he likes them, his mother's fresh-squeezed lemonade for example, and is not a fan of change. He's been married for a couple of years to social media mogul Aadya (Deja Fields) who Dorothy is not a fan of, shocker! lol. Junior has a younger brother Javi (Frankie Alicea-Ford), who is Latin American and in a relationship with Podiatrist Brian (Durwood Murray). Dorothy is a traditionalist and a bit conservative too, her sister Lizzie (Portia Gregory) kicks some sense into her from time to time, and also plays matchmaker with her co-worker Victor (Victor Morris).

There are so many things I loved about this piece. It is a well-written story with attention to detail that is relatable like I mentioned in the beginning, regardless of color. You would think that the mother not liking the daughter-in-law is a formulaic approach but it definitely is standard. The funny, fun aunt Lizzie who is also a widow carrying her husband's ashes in a creative, user-friendly way,  hilariously brought to life by Portia Gregory lands the play and shows audiences that these stories are "just like us". A son having a hard time with change and facing the reality of "sharing" his mom and, accepting that she is too a woman with needs and longing companionship. Junior is jealously furious at Dorothy's new beau Victor, a cowboy owner of an avocado ranch. An avocado ranch of all things! oh, how I welcomed this storyline which makes for great scenes between Kory and Victor. Brother Javi being Latin American well, what can I say. AWESOME. 

The issues captured within a Black family that chose Carlsbad as their home. An upper-class, predominantly White area where they faced racist obstacles provides a window to matters that need to be put out there, and what better way to do so than onstage. 

Milena (Sellers) Phillips, Victor Morris, Kory LaQuess Pullam, Deja Fields. Photo by Rich Soublet
Additionally, Dea Hurston blends topics like adoption, grief, loss, parenting, and family in a jolly, memorable and rhythmic staging. Every actor in the cast is great and they carry the beat well. Their singing voices are not bad either but for me, Frankie Alicea-Ford's potent vocals take the cake. -I had never in my life heard a version of jingle bells in Spanish BTW-.

I greatly enjoyed the 2 hours and change delivery however, I believe the songs need work. The musical element is understandable but the story is so good that the songs became more of a filler than anything.

Savannah Brittian's charming set design definitely brings everyone back home for the holidays. Chanel Mahoney and Joy Ivonne Jone's costume designs make everybody look merry and all the footwear is on fire. Especially Dorothy's high heels and Victor's cowboy boots. 

1222 Oceanfront: A Black Family Christmas is one that should not be missed this holiday season. Great family fun for everybody in a gorgeous area fun for everybody as well.

Single tickets range from $30 to $59 dollars and are available at www.newvillagearts.org 

Shameless plug: listen to our latest podcast episode where we talk to two wonderful cast members of She The People with The Second City HERE

Diversionary Theatre's Azul Shines a Light on a Cuban Family

Playwright C. Quintana hits all the marks as she taps into the cultural realities of being an immigrant in the United States while having a family that is born and raised here. 

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

Sofia Sassone as Zelia and Zuleima Guevara as Yadra. Photo Simpatika.com

Diversionary Theatre always brings strong works that put strong conversations on the table. Many of those conversations can become uncomfortable but it's something that is also needed in order to land conclusions or to get it, and grow. With their latest play Azul, currently playing until December 19, the LGBTQ+ theatre company shines a light on a Cuban family in an accurate and very loving way. 

There is something about works with an all-women team that hits differently, and including Azul during the holiday season is even better.

Yadra (Zuleima Guevara) is a Psychiatrist, widow, and mother. She left Cuba and her beloved aunt as a little girl during the Castro era. She never went back and always questioned why her aunt did not leave with them. As Yadra discovers she has Alzheimer's and is progressing quickly, her daughter Zelia (Sofia Sassone) along with her wife Loré (Olivia Espinosa) notice that her memories are all of Cuba and the past. Zelia being blond, "passing" and not knowing Spanish, sees an opportunity to connect through her longed heritage and travel to the island and look for her aunt who during Yadra's memory lapses shares that her aunt Nena is "just" like her. 

Olivia Espinosa as Loré and Sofia Sassone as Zelia. 
Photo Simpatika.com

Playwright C. Quintana hits all the marks as she taps into the cultural realities of being an immigrant in the United States while having a family that is born and raised here. Yadra does not teach her daughter Spanish because she does not want her to grow with an accent and be discriminated against like she was. Zuleima Guevara as the accepting yet conservative mother is a bundle of tenderness and just a natural. A lot of people have dealt or deal with a loved one with Alzheimer's or dementia. Quintana takes aspects from her life experience but from people's experience as well and captures it marvelously in Azul. Making it real and gifting the work one of its many qualities. There is a musical element to the play that caresses the feelings of audiences soothing the different moments. Diana Cervera walks around the stage playing the guitar with technically no interaction with the cast, like a spiritual, ghostly presence. It is just wonderful. Sofia Sassone and Olivia Espinosa make a good artistic match onstage. Sofia is passionate and graceful while Olivia is strong and mighty. Patrice Amon directing this cast surely brought all their strengths landing a well-written, powerful piece to its staged splendor. 

Diversionary made a smart move including this play in their season and during the holidays. If you are smart too, you will go and enjoy this jewel.

Playing until Sunday, December 19. Upcoming events include:

Sofia Sassone as Zelia and Diana Cervera in Guitar
Industry Night...................................Monday, December 6th at 7pm
Theatre Professionals enjoy a special discount to our only Monday evening performance! 
Pay-What-You-Can at the door, or $10 in advance.

Director Happy Hour ...............................Thursday, December 9th at 6pm
Join Director Executive Artistic Director, Matt M. Morrow and Director Patrice Amon in the Clark Cabaret for a chance to chat before the show! Pre Show event begins at 6pm, performance at 7pm.

Next Act!..........................................Thursday, December 16tht at 6pm
Join Director Executive Artistic Director, Matt M. Morrow and Best Lesbian Erotica 1995 Director, Kym Pappas, for a discussion about the next show, in the Clark Cabaret for a chance to chat before the upcoming show! Pre-Show event at 6pm, performance at 7pm.

Shameless plug: listen to our latest podcast episode where we talk to two wonderful cast members of She The People with The Second City HERE