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Review: Satirical and Ultra Splashy EL GRANDE CIRCUS DE COCA COLA Returns

El Grande Circus de Coca Cola/by Ron House/produced by Skylight Theatre and Flying Cucumber Productions/directed by Alan Shearman/Colony Theatre, Burbank/through December 13

Ron House's original El Grande de Coca Cola (1973/1986) was a huge hit and ran for 3 years off-Broadway. It's about the five-member Hernandez family, an in.your.face incompetent troupe of Mexican cabaret performers who have spent many many years performing in run-down over.the.border clubs. Now House returns with his latest version of the show, an ultra-satirical El Grande Circus de Coca Cola which sold out houses at the Skylight Theatre in Hollywood last summer. It has just reopened at the Colony in Burbank with the same cast headed by Marcelo Tubert as padre Pepe Hernandez. The family may be worthless performers but their Hispanic pride and ambition are unstoppable and drive them across the border into Burbank with the hope of full-out Hollywoodland success. It's lunacy with about a laugh every second, and under Alan Shearman's well-honed direction, the riotous troupe are bound to bring Colony audiences much pre-holiday joy through December 13.

It's been years since I saw the original show in New York and I had forgotten just how brilliantly skilled the cast must be in order to perform in this kind of non-stop,, energetic presentation. Tubert as the ring-maestro of the circo is joined by daughters Maria (Olivia Cristina Delgado) and Consuelo (Lila Dupree) and two male musicians Miguel (Paul Baird) and Juan (Aaron Miller). Maria and Consuelo open the show by going out into the audience and having fun with several audience members. They pretend to spot celebrity folks like Martha Stewart and Larry David and then proceed to push the limits on conversation. They pass out cheaply runoff pix and resumes and with overinflated egos push the boundaries on comments about their enormous talent and why they should be hired....on the spot. Both Delgado and Dupree are hilariously funny and play, play and play some more to the full enjoyment of everyone. When Tubert arrives he introduces the girls once more and his two male musicians, whose silly antics match those of the girls almost to the letter, plus a macho pratfall or two.

Over the course of 85 minutes, they delight with circus acts like "Hoola Hoopies", simulated knife-throwing and "saw the girl in the box in half", Napoleon being shot from a cannon - well, almost, Flamenco Fleas - which must be seen to be fully appreciated, a ballet of Swans, pronounced Svans, and even an opera, on a prerecorded track, in honor of Luciano Pavorotti. Pepe does a batch of bad, but amusing impressions of Alfred Hitchcock, Spielberg and Humphrey Bogart. The piece de resistance is a soap opera sketch "Infidelidad" which turns into violent chaos and a simply delightful "Quinceanera", a traditional Latino coming out party for teen girls turning 15, which again turns into a disastrous mess with simulated and very graphic sexual moves - leave the kiddies at home! These last two show just how minutely skilled the actors must be, to be able to fall on top of each other in a heap and to dance with such seemingly loose acrobatic movements. They're amazing! When an actor essays a singer who sings off key, he (she) has to know how to sing well in order to carry off the effect. Well, the same is true with dancing. Bravo!

It seems that making fun of Latino humor is in. Actors can push the accents of their fractured Spanish to the limits and have their characters act crazy with joy and almost sinful pride, and audiences eat it up. Preservation of culture is so vital nowadays...everyone's culture. Pepe Hernandez in the script takes such effort to express his desire to assimilate to the Hollywood scene as part of what he perceives as American culture. It's high time we start to appreciate and enjoy not only our own but the culture of our neighbors south of the border as well. Warning: Se habla mucho espanol aqui, pero, no te preocupes (not to worry)...Los Angelenos seem to be understanding more and actually learning it...Ole! Felicitaciones to John Iacovelli for his scaled down big top scenic design and to Sarah Figoten for the gaudy costumes,

Go, go, go to El Grande Circus de Coca Cola! It's sheer "forget your troubles, c'mon get happy" entertainment and you'll have a ball!

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From This Author - Don Grigware

  Don Grigware was a writer for BroadwayWorld through December 2019.                            ... (read more about this author)