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Review: QUIXOTE NUEVO at DCPA

A reimagining of the classic literary tale.

Review: QUIXOTE NUEVO at DCPA

Throughout the decades, some shows have stood the test of time while newer productions test their strength to stand among the best. And sometimes, you see a new show about an old tale that is a sight for sore eyes. In DCPA's current production of Quixote Nuevo, audiences are delighted to a family tale with some twists and turns that would leave even Miguel de Cervantes in stitches.

Set in the fictional modern-day Texas border town of La Plancha, Quixote Nuevo tells the story of Tio Jose Quijano, a retired Professor of Literature who specialized in Cervantes who seems to battle with dementia or perhaps Alzheimer's. At the top of the show, he falls out of lucidity and escapes the care of his loving sister, Magdalena, and niece, Antonia, believing that he himself is the literature hero Don Quixote. From their, chaos ensues as he encounters town locals and takes them to be characters from the original tale including Sancho Panza and Dulcinea. Meanwhile, a looming figure follows Quijano on his journey - or perhaps even acts as his guide to a final destination.

Quixote Nuevo is a new theatrical treasure. Written by Octavio Solis, this comedic tale is full of heart. It tackles social issues in a way that points out their absurdity in equally outrageous ways, addresses mental decline in a way that is relatable to so many families, and pays homage to Tejano culture through the highlighting of an amazing majority Chicano cast and creative team under the direction of Lisa Portes. A notable highlight of the creative elements is Scenic Design by Efren Delgadillo, Jr. is next level incredible. There is a sense of depth to the set that Delgadillo has created that is perfected by the smaller details.

A play is nothing without the performers - and these folks came to play. As Quijano's sister and niece, Laura Crotte and Krystal Ortiz are the perfect mother and daughter. There is a great sense of family between them as they argue over the best course of action to get their ailing brother/uncle the care he needs. As the main community members who also care about his wellbeing, Sol Castillo as Padre Perez and Maya Malan-Gonzalez as Dr. Campos are each authentic in their roles as faith leader and therapist. As the bar owner, Bruno, Lakin Valdez is comedic and deft in the best ways, though my favorite Valdez moments were when he portrayed a younger version of Quijano during flashback moments. These moments were full of a gentle kindness that I found to be incredibly endearing; a tender ignorance. I felt similarly about Alexis B. Santiago who also pulled double duty with two contrasting characters - Bruno's wife, Rosario, and concerned wife, Juana, who is on her own journey in search of her missing husband, Manny, who Quijano has come to know as Quixote's number one sideick, Sancho. Santiago in her multi-character track is so fun to watch. Though her portrayal as Rosario is strong, it is Juana in which she thrives. There are plenty of comedic moments in the show, but Santiago as Juana will leave you with tears in your eyes from laughing so hard.

Ernie Gonzalez, Jr. as Manny (or Sancho depending on who you ask) is the perfect compliment to Santiago's Juana. Although they are not reunited until closer to the end of the show, the build up to that moment is made better by the humor and comedic timing that Gonzalez lends to Manny and blends so well with Santiago as a pair as well as other members of the cast. As Papa Calaca (this tale's manifestation of Death), Raul Cardona is the perfect narrator to the story. Cardona gives the role an heir of "Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future" all rolled into one portrayal of the master of death. At times he is looming, others funny, and even more others comforting. In the leading role of Quijano/Quixote, Herbert Siguenza gives a standout performance. Siguenza is so thoughtful in the role. Even amidst the chaotic nature of his character, Siguenza is purposeful and in full control of the ship.

Quixote Nuevo is certainly a celebration of classic literature and Tejano culture. However, I think it is also both more general and specific than that. This is a story that many families, not just here in Denver but all over the world, can and will relate to and come to use a source of healing and comfort. It is also wonderful to see Tejano culture highlighted in a way that Chicano audiences are seeing themselves on stage in ways they may not be used to and exposing traditional theater audiences to less represented cultures in ways that signify our similarities and common ground.

Quixote Nuevo runs at DCPA through June 12, 2022.



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