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

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