Vision Latino Theatre Company to Launch Second Season with JUST LIKE US

By: Jan. 20, 2017

Visión Latino Theatre Company (VLTC) kicks off their Second Season with Karen Zacarías, Just Like Us. Performance of Just Like Us will be held at Chicago Dramatists (1105 W Chicago Ave.).

Visión Latino Theatre Company, Latinos with a Vision, is a new 501(c)3 Not for Profit Theatre Company in Chicago promoting the talents of Latino Artist of Chicago through theatre. Founded in August of 2014 by Xavier Custodio, Yajaira Custodio, and Johnathan Nieves, when the Co0Founders were working on a production called "In The Heights". They saw there was a need for Latino Artists to be able to celebrate their culture and share the struggles and perseverance of Latinos.

Based on Helen Thorpe's bestselling book, this documentary-style play follows four Latina teenage girls in Denver-two of whom are documented and two who are not-through young adulthood. Their close-knit friendships begin to unravel when immigration status dictates the girls' opportunities, or lack thereof. When a political firestorm arises, each girl's future becomes increasingly complicated. Just Like Us poses difficult, yet essential questions about what makes us American.

Karen Zacarías award-winning plays include the sold-out/extended comedy THE BOOK CLUB PLAY, the sold-out world premiere drama JUST LIKE US (adapted from the book by Helen Thorpe) at Denver Theater Center, the Steinberg -citation award play LEGACY OF LIGHT, the Francesca Primus Award winning play MARIELA IN THE DESERT, the Helen Hayes Award winning play THE SINS OF SOR JUANA, the adaptation of Julia Alvarez's HOW THE GARCIA GIRLS LOST THEIR ACCENTS. Karen also has a piece in the Arena Stage premiere of OUR WAR. Her TYA musicals with composer Debbie Wicks la Puma include JANE OF THE JUNGLE, EINSTEIN IS A DUMMY, LOOKING FOR ROBERTO CLEMENTE, CINDERELLA EATS RICE AND BEANS, FERDINAND THE BULL, and FRIDA LIBRE. Her musical CHASING GEORGE WASHINGTON premiered at The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and went on a National Tour. Her script was then adapted into a book by Scholastic with a foreword by First Lady Michelle Obama.

Karen is currently working on the adaptation of Edith Wharton's THE AGE OF INNOCENCE, a drama for Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and a Brazilian themed Oliver Twist musical: OLIVERIO: A BRAZILIAN TWIST ON DICKENS for the Kennedy Center. Her libretto of THE SUN ALSO RISES for the Washington Ballet received accolades in the New York Times and she is currently writing the libretto for THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW with Washington Ballet Artistic Director Septime Webre. She is proud to be currently commissioned to write new plays for Arena Stage, Cincinnati Playhouse, Ford's Theater, Adventure Theater, and First Stage.

Her plays have been produced at The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, Arena Stage, The Goodman Theater, Round House Theater, The Denver Center, Alliance Theater, Imagination Stage, GALA Hispanic Theater, Berkshire Theater Festival, South Coast Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, Cleveland Playhouse, San Jose Repertory Theater, GEVA Theater, Horizon's Theater, People's Light and Theater, Walnut Street Theater, Arden Theater, Milagro Theater, Teatro Vista, Aurora Theater, and many more.

Her awards include: New Voices Award, 2010 Steinberg Citation-Best New Play, Paul Aneillo Award, National Francesca Primus Prize, New Voices Award, National Latino Play Award, Finalist Susan Blackburn, Helen Hayes for Outstanding New Play.

Karen is the first playwright-in-residence at Arena Stage in Washington, DC and has taught playwriting at Georgetown University. She is the founder of Young Playwrights' Theater, an award-winning theater company that teaches playwriting in local public schools in Washington, DC. YPT won the 2010 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from the White House as one of the most innovative arts programs in the nation. The YPT curriculum is currently being used in public schools in DC, VA, MD, New Orleans, Detroit, and Texas and is published on Amazon as "WRITE TO DREAM."

Xavier Custodio (Artistic Director/Director) is one of the Co?Founders of Visión Latino Theatre Company. Currently, Xavier is the Fine and Performing Arts Department Chair at South Shore International College Prep. Xavier Custodio holds a Bachelor of Music Education from VanderCook College of Music and a Master of Arts in School Leadership from Concordia University of Chicago. He has been in the following productions: The Scarecrow (Minster Dodge), Rent (Benny), Godspell (John the Baptist), Man of La Mancha (Juan), Nine Lives: A Musical Web Series (BFPS Manger), Evita, Ragtime, and The Wiz. His directing credit includes: Fame, In The Heights, Yellow Eyes, and Parachute Man (Assistant Director). Xavier Custodio has trained with Randy Buescher (Your True Voice Studio) and Janet Louer (Acting).

Just Like Us cast includes Jessica Goforth (Helen Thorpe), Rebecca Escobedo (Marisela), Vanessa Garcia (Yadira), Elyssa Treviño (Clara), Jocelyn Sanchez (Elissa/Zulema), Dago Soto (Fabian, Tom Tancredo, Recruiter, Cezar Mesquita, Carlos, Federico Peña, Cop, and Ensemble), Ana Santos (Josefa, Mrs. Smith, Carol Vizzi, and LisA Martinez), Flavia Pallozzi (Yolanda, Ana, Cynthia Poundstone, Lucy, and Business Woman, and Dylan Cruz (Julio, Ramiro, Mike McGarry, and Ensemble).

Just Like Us runs from February 24, 2017-March 12, 2017, with performances Friday & Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 3:00pm.

Performance Calendar:

February 24, 2017: Performance at 7:30pm

February 25, 2017: Performance at 7:30pm

February 26, 2017: Press and Opening Night Performance at 3:00 pm

March 3, 2017: Performance at 7:30pm

March 4, 2017: Performance at 7:30pm

March 5, 2017: Performance at 3:00pm

March 10, 2017: Performance at 7:30pm

March 11, 2017: Performance at 7:30pm

March 12, 2017: Performance at 3:00pm

Sunday, February 26, 2017 will be Press Night and the performance that day will begin at 3:00pm.

Tickets for Just Like Us are $25-$30 and be purchase online at ($25) or in person an hour before the performance ($30) located at Chicago Dramatists 1105 W. Chicago Ave.

Xavier Custodio, Yajaira Custodio, and Johnathan Nieves founded Visión Latino Theatre Company, Latinos with a Vision, in August of 2014. The theatre company was created when the Co?Founders were working on a production called "In The Heights" and they saw there was a need for Latino Artists to be able to celebrate their culture and share the struggles and perseverance of Latinos. Visión Latino Theatre Company seeks to break down racial boundaries and to open the minds of audiences to Latino struggles and perseverance through theatre.

Pictured: Vanessa Garcia. Photo by Jose Bolanos.