Jose Luis Valenzuela to Direct LA Premiere of AMERICAN MARIACHI at Latino Theater Company

American Mariachi opens May 11 at The Los Angeles Theatre Center in downtown Los Angeles.

By: Mar. 29, 2024
Jose Luis Valenzuela to Direct LA Premiere of AMERICAN MARIACHI at Latino Theater Company
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Familia. Amor. Tradición. Latino Theater Company will present the Los Angeles premiere of a big-hearted comedy with live music and a crucial message. Written by José Cruz González, directed by Jose Luis Valenzuela and featuring an on-stage mariachi band (original arrangements by music director Cynthia Reifler Flores), American Mariachi opens May 11 at The Los Angeles Theatre Center in downtown Los Angeles. Performances continue through June 9, with six low-priced previews taking place May 2 through May 10.

It’s the 1970s and women can’t be mariachis…or can they? 

“The play is about a group of women who adopt mariachi during a time when that wasn’t permitted,” explains González. “Mariachi was always male-dominated; for women to enter that world was a challenge on many fronts. The characters in the play come together because of their love of the music, but also because Lucha discovers that her mother, who is living with dementia, suddenly comes alive whenever she hears one certain song. That begins the journey for this young woman — to see if she can bring the music back to her mother.”

“American Mariachi speaks loudly to Latino Theater Company’s core audience, but also to women everywhere,” says Valenzuela. “Women today are still struggling for equal rights and men continue to take their voices away. The live music and comedy guarantee that American Mariachi remains highly entertaining — but there’s a tough story underneath the surface. We want our production to bring that out and give it true meaning.”

Elia Saldaña (most recently seen in the title role of Latino Theater Company’s La Virgen de Guadalupe, Dios Inantzin) stars as Lucha, who has put her own dreams on hold to care for her mother (played by Ruth Livier, last seen at Latino Theater Company in The Sweetheart Deal) while her father (Latino Theater Company ensemble member Sal López) is out earning money for the family as a mariachi musician. When Lucha discovers her mother’s reaction to that one particular song, she decides to form her own mariachi band. Teaming up with her spirited cousin (Esperanza América, whose credits include, most recently, Yesenia in Tacos La Brooklyn), the two recruit an eclectic group of unconventional candidates: repressed Isabel, who suffers under the thumb of her macho husband (played respectively by Alicia Coca, previously seen in the role at South Coast Rep, and Fidel Gómez, who recently directed Tacos La Brooklyn); sexpot hairstylist Soyla (Crissy Guerrero, who originated the role in Denver, then reprised it at The Old Globe and South Coast Rep); and the exceedingly shy Gabby (real-life mariachi musician Vaneza Mari Calderón). With the reluctant help of family friend Mino (Latino Theater Company ensemble member Geoffrey Rivas), this motley crew must now learn to play instruments and sing. Also in the cast is mariachi, model, drag and theater performer, Yalitza “Yaya” Vasquez-Lopez as Lucha’s Tia Carmen.

Since its 2018 premiere at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, American Mariachi has been produced across the U.S., including at The Goodman Theatre in Chicago; Alley Theatre in Houston; and at The Old Globe, South Coast Repertory and PCPA in Southern California. An early staged reading at Denver Center’s Colorado New Play Summit featuredAmérica, Saldaña, Guerrero and López in the roles they will now inhabit for Latino Theater Company.

Latino Theater Company’s creative team includes scenic designer Maureen E. Weiss; lighting designer Pablo Santiago; sound designer John Zalewski; and costume designer Maria Catarina Copelli. The production stage manager is Alexa Wolfe, who is assisted by Martha Espinoza..

The Latino Theater Company is dedicated to providing a world-class arts center for those pursuing artistic excellence; a laboratory where both tradition and innovation are honored and honed; and a place where the convergence of people, cultures and ideas contribute to the future. Now in its 39th year, LTC has operated The Los Angeles Theatre Center, a landmark building in Downtown’s Historic Core, since 2006. Earlier this month, the company was honored with six Stage Raw awards for four different plays produced in 2023. 

American Mariachi opens on Saturday, May 11 at 8 p.m., with performances thereafter on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. through June 9. Six preview performances take place May 2 through May 10 on the same schedule (dark May 4). Tickets range from $10–$48, except opening night which is $75 and includes a post-performance reception.

The Los Angeles Theatre Center is located at 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90013. Parking is available for $8 with box office validation at Los Angeles Garage Associate Parking structure, 545 S. Main St., Los Angeles, CA 90013 (between 5th and 6th Streets, just behind the theater).

For more information and to purchase tickets, call (213) 489-0994 or go to