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Telenovela-Inspired Hilarity Comes to Garden Theatre Stage

The Garden Theatre (160 W Plant St.) is proud to announce the outrageously funny Destiny of Desire, An Unapologetic Telenovela in Two Acts, showing March 17 - April 9, 2017. The media sponsor for Destiny of Desire is Telemundo Orlando, and supporting sponsors include Outdoor Living Products and Toole's Ace Hardware. This project is made possible by a grant from Duke Energy through United Arts of Central Florida.

Award-winning playwright Karen Zacarías brings music, high drama and burning passion to the stage. One stormy night in Bellarica, Mexico, two baby girls are born - one into privilege and the other into poverty. A former beauty queen with an insatiable lust for power swaps the babies and the stage is set for two outrageous misfortunes to grow into one remarkable destiny.

Karen Zacarías is a playwright who is bringing fresh and impactful art to the stage, with many projects reflective of the Latino culture. She has been described by Variety as "a writer of comedic skill." Ms. Zacarías wrote the play as a response to the way many dramas written by Latino authors were dismissively compared to telenovelas. The play, presented in English with music in Spanish, instead celebrates the genre that is so beloved throughout the Spanish-speaking world.

Destiny of Desire had its world premiere at the Women's Voices Theater Festival and is the winner of the Edgerton Foundation New Play Award. The Garden Theatre was the first theatre in the United States awarded licensing after the play's Washington D.C. premiere at the Arena Stage. The only other two theatres awarded licensing this season are the Goodman Theatre in Chicago and California's South Coast Rep Theatre.

New York-based Melissa Crespo will direct, and will only be the second director of this work - and the first female director.

"Not only is Karen's play hilarious, but it's also brilliant in the way it draws you into the world of telenovelas while simultaneously deconstructing the genre and stereotypes of the culture. And, you don't have to know anything about telenovelas to enjoy the show," noted Ms. Crespo.

Destiny of Desire will be the first Garden Theatre production that involves an all-Latino cast, playwright and director, an important milestone for the theatre.

"The Garden is thrilled to have been granted the opportunity to produce this innovative and new piece of theatre," says Consulting Artistic Director, Rob Winn Anderson. "Destiny of Desire has allowed us to tap into the rich Latino market by employing talented actors, a director with a strong vision, and create new partnerships with Telemundo and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. This is a play for all cultures that celebrates the popular art form inherent to the Latino culture. We know that our Garden audiences will fall in love with this hilarious original work just as we at the Garden have."

The ten-person professional cast of Destiny of Desire includes Alina Alcantara as Hortencia Del Rio, Stephen Lima as Ernesto Del Rio, Tamir Navarro as Victoria Maria Del Rio, Sonia Roman* as Fabiola Castillo, Nadya Borno as Pilar Esperanza Castillo, Adam Ignacio as Sebastian Jose Castillo, Joe Llorens* as Dr. Jorge Ramiro Mendoza, Esteban Vilchez as Dr. Diego Mendoza and Blanca Goodfriend* as Sister Sonia. All cast members are new to the Garden Theatre stage. *Member of Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers, appearing under a special agreement with Actors' Equity Association.

Telenovelas have a history of popularity with Hispanic cultures and more recent, broader appeal as the genre has also expanded to programming on major networks (e.g. Telenovela, NBC and Jane the Virgin, CW). It is estimated that hundreds of millions regularly watch a telenovela across the globe.

"I hope audiences will leave the theatre full of hope and joy after seeing Destiny of Desire," says Ms. Crespo. "I believe telenovelas and soap operas are so appealing because we desperately want to believe that good will triumph over evil. Stories help us make sense of our own experiences and remind us that we're not alone. And the characters in Destiny live life to the fullest and certainly don't disappoint."

In conjunction with the show, the Garden Theatre will also present a film by Tony Mata and Ralf Remshardt called Theatre of Rice & Beans, A Retrospective Look at New York Latino Theatre on Saturday, March 25th at 3pm. Featuring commentary by playwrights Maria Irene Fornes and Nilo Cruz, Broadway directors Hal Prince and Graciela Daniele, and Broadway actors Chita Rivera, Lin-Manuel Miranda, among others, the documentary tells an untold story of the American theatre and speaks to coming generations of theatre artists, addressing financial struggles, artistic breakthroughs, stereotyping, and the future of Latino theatre. Producers Tony Mata and Ralf Remshardt, theatre professors at the University of Florida, join the free event and conduct a talk-back after the film.

Tickets for Destiny of Desire are $28 for adults and $24 for seniors and students, with special pricing of $25 for adults and $21 for seniors and students for opening night and Thursday performances. Show times are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. There will be one Industry Night performance on Monday, April 3 at 8pm with $15 tickets.

For tickets, visit or contact the Box Office at 407-877-GRDN (4736). Groups of 10 or more are eligible for discounts of up to 25% by contacting group sales manager Jana Goupil at 407-877-4736 x208. The March 25th documentary film and talk-back is a free event with a ticket required for admission. Visit for tickets.

About Karen Zacarías
Playwright Karen Zacarías' 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.

About Melissa Crespo
Ms. Crespo enjoys directing everything from classical to contemporary plays, as well as musicals and operas. She is most passionate about collaborating with playwrights and devising new work. She is most known for ¡Figaro! (90210) which had its world premiere at LA Opera and had its NY premiere at The Duke on 42nd Street. She has served as the Allen Lee Hughes Directing Fellow at Arena Stage, Van Lier Directing Fellow at Second Stage Theatre and is a 2014 Drama League Fellow where she directed the world premiere of Maggie-Kate Coleman's The Map of Lost Things while in residence at the Hangar Theatre. Currently, she is a Usual Suspect at New York Theatre Workshop and is a 2016-2018 Lab member of WP Theater (formerly The Women's Project). Melissa received her MFA in Directing from The New School for Drama.

About the Garden Theatre
Located in the heart of historic downtown Winter Garden on Plant Street, the Garden Theatre is a nonprofit organization committed to enriching, engaging and entertaining through creative experiences. The 299-seat theatre, which re-opened in 2008, is a historic, atmospheric, professional performing arts venue in a Mediterranean Revival style. The Garden Theatre hosts live plays, concerts, movies and more to the residents of and visitors to the city of Winter Garden. For tickets or additional information, contact the Garden Theatre Box Office at 407-877-GRDN (4736) or visit

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