Review: ANNA IN THE TROPICS at Barrington Stage Company

Another Winner for The Award-Winning Theatre in Downtown Pittsfield

By: Jul. 24, 2022
Review: ANNA IN THE TROPICS at Barrington Stage Company
Review: ANNA IN THE TROPICS at Barrington Stage Company
Marina Pires, Gabriela Saker, Blanca Camacho and
Alex Rodriguez. Photo: Daniel Rader

The Anna referenced in the title is not that in the kingdom of Siam, but of Tolstoy. One might not immediately consider a wealth of similarities between a group of Hispanic Americans in the 20th century and Russians of the previous century. That is precisely one of, if not the key point in this rich, multi-layered, and superb production that BSC Artistic Director, Julianne Boyd, has waited two years to bring to the Berkshires.

In 1929, a handsome lector arrives at one of the last Cuban cigar factories in Tampa to entertain the workers while they hand-roll cigars. But when the lector begins reading Anna Karenina, the passionate, frustrated lives of the characters in the book begin to parallel those of the listeners, leading to jealousy, betrayal and sexual awakening.

Review: ANNA IN THE TROPICS at Barrington Stage Company
Alex Rodriguez.
Photo: Daniel Rader

Cuban American playwright Nilo Cruz was the first Latino to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for this wonderfully sensual and evocative play. This production is masterfully directed by Elena Araoz. Over the course of the well-paced performance the characters play out a multitude of scenarios that should be familiar to and cause audience members to consider topics / themes including but not limited to:

  • The dynamics and roles in the so-called norms of a largely patriarchal society.
  • Embracing change as evolutional or fearing it and clinging to the comfort of the old ways in the face of the new.
  • Whether to be driven by the heart or the head.
  • One may claim to listen, but do they truly hear?
  • One may be a gifted speaker, but do they say what is meant, or that which they feel is needed to achieve a particular outcome?
  • Innocence and naivety of youth that fades away and becomes calloused by the complexities of adulthood
Review: ANNA IN THE TROPICS at Barrington Stage Company
Marina Pires and Wilson Jermaine Heredia
Photo: Daniel Rader

ANNA IN THE TROPICS features Blanca Camacho as Ofelia, Alexis Cruz as Cheché, Gilbert Cruz as Santiago, Tony Award winner Wilson Jermaine Heredia as Paloma/Eliades, Marina Pires as Conchita, Alex Rodriguez as Juan Julian and Gabriela Saker as Marela. Each display ample individual talent and prowess that is amplified as an ensemble.

The creative team includes Justin Townsend (scenic designer), Christopher Vergara (costume designer), J. Jarad Janas (wig, fair and makeup designer), Maria-Christina Fuste (lighting designer), Nathan Leigh (sound designer). Jason Brouillard (production stage manager), Rachel Lynne Harper (assistant stage manager). McCorkle Casting Ltd. (casting director). Their work, is of the highest level and supports the performance extremely well, and seamlessly.

Review: ANNA IN THE TROPICS at Barrington Stage Company
Gabriela Saker
Photo: Daniel Rader

As my niece, approximately half my age, and I compared thoughts following the performance; it quickly became clear, there is a lot here to like for a wide and diverse audience. ANNA IN THE TROPICS is something like a well curated and presented collection of themes that are both timeless and universal. Coming quite close to the proverbial, perhaps lofty goal of, having something for everyone. One thing we agreed upon is that ANNA IN THE TROPICS is the latest in a long line of high caliber professional theatre in the Berkshires this summer.

Performances are Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:00 p.m., Thursday through Saturday at 8:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 2:00 p.m., and Sunday at 5:00 p.m. on Barrington Stage Company's Boyd-Quinson Stage (30 Union Street). Tickets: $20 - $85. The show runs 2 hours and 20 minutes in two acts with intermission. Another welcomed return to the past before most all performances began to be presented in about 90 minutes without.