Melinda Lopez's BECOMING CUBA to Begin 3/28 at Huntington

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Melinda Lopez's BECOMING CUBA to Begin 3/28 at Huntington

Huntington Theatre Company continues its 2013-2014 Season with playwright-in-residence Melinda Lopez's latest play, the stirring new drama Becoming Cuba. Huntington Associate Producer M. Bevin O'Gara makes her Huntington directorial debut of the Huntington's playwright-in-residence's latest work. Performances of Becoming Cuba begin at the South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA on March 28. Due to popular demand, the run has been extended to May 3, 2014.

"Since I arrived at the Huntington, people have asked when we would stage another new play by Melinda Lopez," says Artistic Director Peter DuBois. "Becoming Cuba is exuberant, passionate, and well worth the wait!" Hear more from DuBois about the production at huntingtontheatre.org/peter-cuba.

"Becoming Cuba takes me back to my favorite theatrical territory - mining big stories rooted in a shared history of the US and Cuba," says Huntington Playwright-in-Residence Melinda Lopez. "I am thrilled to be returning to the Huntington, my artistic home, and I am especially excited to again work with the talented M. Bevin O'Gara. Bevin understands my sensibility and my humor, and I trust her to wring the most and the best from my work. We are a terrific team." O'Gara previously directed Lopez's Gary (Boston Playwrights' Theatre), a reading of Caroline in Jersey (Huntington's Breaking Ground Festival), and a workshop of Becoming Cuba (Huntington's 2012 Summer Workshop).

Becoming Cuba takes place in 1897 Cuba on the eve of the Spanish-American War. Spirited widow Adela, the daughter of a Spanish mother and a Cuban father, runs her late Spanish husband's pharmacy, indifferent to the mounting conflict around her. But when the rebellion comes home to Havana in the form of her half-brother Manny, a rebel fighter, she must choose between loyalty to country or to family. By turns funny, steamy, and political, this powerful new drama asks whether freedom is something we all want.

"I'm attracted to the questions of loyalty, sacrifice, and survival that Melinda asks in this play," says O'Gara, "but mostly I love the family that is at its heart. It is so appropriate and meaningful to me that a play with this sort of family at its center is the first show that I am directing with my theatrical family at the Huntington."

The ensemble cast features Christina Pumariega (The Miracle at Naples) as Adela; Boston native Rebecca Soler (The Year of the Baby at Soho Rep) Adela's spirited sister, Martina; Juan Javier Cardenas (Boleros for the Disenchanted) as their brother Manny, a rebel fighter; and Christopher Tarjan (Our Town) as Davis, the American journalist who is witness to the mounting conflict. Christopher Burns (Captors) plays Isador, a Spanish lieutenant, and Conquistador; Marianna Bassham (Our Town, Luck of the Irish) plays Isador's wife Fancy and Hautey's wife; and young actors Brandon Barbosa and Elijah Bell-Martin play Cuban boys Chucho and Mambi at alternating performances.

"There is a legend in my family about my great-grandmother, who lived through the Cuban War of Independence," says Lopez. "When she was 16, the Spanish came to take over her farm and sent her family to internment camps. My great-grandmother refused to go. She took her pet pig under her arms and walked up into the mountains to join the rebels. The play that I eventually wrote is not her story, but it's certainly infused with her indomitable spirit."

Becoming Cuba was commissioned by North Coast Repertory Theatre, where it received its premiere production in May - June 2013. It was developed at the Huntington during the 2012 Summer Workshop for Huntington Playwriting Fellows.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Melinda Lopez (Playwright) is the Huntington's first playwright-in-residence and a past Huntington Playwriting Fellow. Her play Sonia Flew (Elliot Norton and IRNE Awards, dir. Nicholas Martin) inaugurated the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA in 2004. It has subsequently been produced at Coconut Grove Playhouse, the Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Laguna Playhouse, the Summer Playwrights Festival (NY), the Milagro Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and many others. Other plays include Caroline in Jersey (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Orchids to Octopi (IRNE Award, Central Square Theater, commissioned by the National Institute of Health), Gary (Steppenwolf's First Look Repertory of New Work, Boston Playwrights' Theatre), Alexandros (Laguna Playhouse), a new translation of Blood Wedding (Suffolk University), God Smells Like a Roast Pig (Women on Top Festival, Elliot Norton Award - Outstanding Solo Performance), and Midnight Sandwich/Medianoche (Coconut Grove Playhouse). She is the recipient of a three-year-playwright-in-residency grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and was the first recipient of the Charlotte Woolard Award, given by The Kennedy Center to a "promising new voice in American Theatre." Ms. Lopez recently played Mrs. Gibbs in Our Town at the Huntington. She teaches theatre and performance at Wellesley College and playwriting at Boston University.

M. Bevin O'Gara (Director) is the associate producer at the Huntington Theatre Company. Recent credits include Tribes and Clybourne Park (SpeakEasy Stage Company), You for Me for You, Love Person, and The Pain and the Itch (Company One), Matt and Ben (Central Square Theater), Two Wives in India and Gary also by Melinda Lopez (Boston Playwrights' Theatre), 2.5 Minute Ride (Downstage @ New Rep), Othello and The Crucible (New Rep On Tour), Melancholy Play (Holland Productions), Bat Boy: The Musical (Metro Stage), Tattoo Girl, Painting You, and Artifacts (Williamstown Theatre Festival Workshop), and ANTI-KISS (3 Monkeys Theatrical Productions). She has also worked with New Repertory Theatre, the Gaiety Theatre of Dublin, and the Actors Centre of Australia. She is the recipient of the Lois Roach Award for Outstand Commitment to the Boston Theatre Community from Company One. She has a BFA from Boston University in theatre studies.

The Huntington's production of Becoming Cuba will feature scenic design by Cameron Anderson (The Language of Trees at Roundabout Underground); costume design by Andrea Hood (Love and Information at New York Theatre Workshop); lighting design by Yi Zhao (Republic & Beckett Solos at Hoi Polloi); and composition and sound design by Arshan Gailus (Tribes and Clybourne Park at SpeakEasy Stage Company). Production stage manager is Carola Morrone LaCoste. Assistant stage manager is Candice Mongellow.

ABOUT THE HUNTINGTON THEATRE COMPANY: Recipient of the 2013 Regional Theatre Tony Award and named Best of Boston 2013 by Boston magazine, the Huntington Theatre Company has developed into Boston's leading professional theatre and one of the region's premiere cultural assets since its founding in 1982. Bringing together superb local and national talent, the Huntington produces a mix of groundbreaking new works and classics made current to create award-winning productions, runs nationally renowned programs in education and new play development, and serves the local theatre community through its operation of the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. Under the direction of Artistic Director Peter DuBois and Managing Director Michael Maso and in residence at Boston University, the Huntington cultivates, celebrates, and champions theatre as an art form. For more information, visit huntingtontheatre.org.

The production will run March 28 - May 3, 2014 (Extended due to popular demand.). Select Evenings: Tues. - Thurs. at 7:30pm; Fri. - Sat. at 8pm; select Sun. at 7pm. Matinees: Select Wed., Sat., and Sun. at 2pm. *Days and times vary. Press Opening: Wednesday, April 9, 7pm. RSVP online at huntingtontheatre.org/news. All performances are set for the South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, 527 Tremont Street, Boston.

Single tickets starting at $25 and FlexPasses are on sale:

  • online at huntingtontheatre.org;
  • by phone at 617 266 0800; or
  • in person at the BU Theatre Box Office, 264 Huntington Ave. and the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA Box Office, 527 Tremont St. in Boston's South End.

Select discounts apply:

  • $5 off: seniors
  • $10 off: subscribers and BU community (faculty/staff/alumni)
  • $25 "35 Below" tickets for patrons 35 years old and younger (valid ID required)
  • $15 student and military tickets (valid ID required)

Post-Show Audience Conversations: Led by members of the Huntington staff. After most Monday - Friday, Saturday matinee, and Sunday matinee performances throughout the season. Free with a ticket to the performance.

Actors Forum: Participating cast members answer questions from the audience.

Humanities Forum: A conversation about the historic or literary context of the production.

Student Matinees: For students in grades 8 - 12. Tickets: $15. Includes pre-show in-school visit, curriculum guide, post-show Actors Forum, and Dramatic Returns card for each student. **Currently sold out - call 617 273 1558 for information about attending an afternoon or evening performance.

-PLUS- Boston Globe Insiders Event - Friday, April 25: Boston Globe photographer and Pulitzer Prize winner Essdras M. Suarez will lead a post-show discussion about his experiences in Cuba as a photojournalist.

Pictured: Christina Pumariega (Adele). Photo courtesy Huntington Theatre Company.

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