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Review: SOMEWHERE at Geva Theatre

Review: SOMEWHERE at Geva Theatre

The production runs through November 13th.

I've been covering the theatre scene in Rochester and Western NY for BroadwayWorld and various other publications since 2017. Without actually sitting down to tally them up, I'd estimate I've probably reviewed around 250-300 productions in that time, of all sizes and calibers. I can only think of three other times I've left the theatre as moved as I was after seeing Matthew Lopez's "Somewhere", currently playing at Geva Theatre until November 13th. What a stunning achievement this play is.

(If you were curious, the three other productions I referenced above were the 2018 touring production of "Fiddler on the Roof", JCC Centerstage Theatre's "Indecent", and Blackfriars Theatre's "Silent Sky").

Matthew Lopez is, of course, much more well known for "The Inheritance", which premiered in 2018 and went on to garner international praise, shower him in Tony awards, and catapult him into theatre superstardom. "Somewhere" is one of his lesser-known works, but I'd argue it's just as good, if not better, than the play that put him on the map.

"Somewhere" tells the story of the struggling Candelarias, a Puerto Rican family who live in NYC's San Juan Hill neighborhood during the late 1950's/early 1960s, a golden era of Broadway when lines for West Side Story were around the block, Chita Rivera was a household name, and members of the Candelaria family harbored dreams of the stage; Francisco (Ean Castellanos), a jokester who fancies himself the Puerto Rican Marlon Brando, Rebecca (Maria Cristina Posada Slye), a dancer extraordinaire, Alejandro (Eddie Guiterrez), who starred in "The King and I" as a child but has since left his Broadway dreams behind to help support the family, Jamie (Zach McNally), the sort-of adopted son who has achieved stardom but still remembers his roots, and Inez (Zuleyma Guevara), the pushy matriarch who dreams of seeing her children's names on a marquee. The problem, as was the case for many immigrant families in NYC during this time, is that dreams are out-of-reach luxuries when you're struggling to feed your family and keep a roof over your head, a struggle that comes to a climax when the Candelaria's learn that their entire neighborhood is going to be leveled in 30 days' time to make way for the construction of a new sprawling performance arts complex (Lincoln Center, whose controversial legacy "Somewhere" tackles quite effectively).

"Somewhere" grapples with a bevy of sociological themes; poverty, class, gentrification, and the plight of immigrants to name just a few. Lopez handles these weighty topics deftly, but so do a lot of other playwrights, a welcome sign that the artists and creators of today are paying attention to society's challenges and tackling them head-on. What sets Lopez apart with "Somewhere" is the way in which he interweaves artistry, hope, joy, and dreams in with these other societal conversations.

Because "Somewhere" isn't just a play about poverty, it's also a love letter to Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, and Broadway. It's a very musical non-musical (an odd quasi-genre that I happen to love), packed to the brim with showtunes and ballads and Karla Puno Garcia's stunning choreography. It crackles with the excitement of Puerto Rican music and culture. And most importantly, it puts a microscope up to the notion that we MUST dream, that dreams are *essential*, and that life is not worth living if one intends only to keep their nose to the grindstone.

There is no point highlighting standout acting performances in Geva's "Somewhere" because they are top-to-bottom superb. Nary five minutes go by without Castellano's Francisco putting the audience in stitches; Guiterrez's Alejandro delivers profound frustration and rage at his family that refuses to acknowledge reality (and my favorite line of the play, "Sometimes I think I'm the only one in this family with enough sense to be scared to death"); Guevara's Inez is at times a quintessential stage mom and at other times a woman palpably downtrodden by the cruelties of life; and, most importantly, the whole cast are outstanding dancers, injecting the perfect amount of "West Side Story" into the story.

"Somewhere" is a funny, heartbreaking, riveting piece of theatre, and you should move mountains to make sure you get to Geva Theatre to see it before it leaves on November 13th.

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From This Author - Colin Fleming-Stumpf

Colin Fleming-Stumpf is a lover of all things theatre and performing arts. A native of Rochester, Colin has acted on stages across Western New York and is active in the local theatre community as a... (read more about this author)

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