Review: A SKEPTIC AND A BRUJA at Urbanite Theatre a Haunting Experience

The production runs through May 1

By: Apr. 12, 2022

Review: A SKEPTIC AND A BRUJA  at Urbanite Theatre a Haunting Experience

In a deviation from your typical theatrical experience, may I present you Urbanite Theatre's World Premiere of "A Skeptic and a Bruja." Much to its title premise, this new work takes you on a paranormal journey with a team whose mission is to uncover haunted houses lead by a skeptic, Sam (Mercedes White) and a Bruja, who is a type of female sorcerer by the name of Jess (Alisha Espinosa). The story will stretch your belief system with a magnificent set designed Jeff Weber that makes you do double take after triple take wondering where your next haunting moment will occur.

The team embarks on an ancient Bed and Breakfast owned by Priscilla portrayed by Lorinda Hawkins Smith. The history of the house is creepy to say the least, full of violence and murder. As the Skeptic and the Bruja (joined by their videographer Remy, played by Jen Diaz) settle into the quaint yet disturbing residence, weird activity begins to happen. From pictures falling off the walls to missing household items to blackouts in the living room, it becomes very apparent that they are not the only ones inhabiting this home.

The quartet of actors have a difficult task of manifesting a horror that many outside of the "skeptic" would have serious reservations as to its authenticity. With that noted, each actor was magnificent in creating the illusions required by the story, aided by brilliant technical support.

Mercedes White who plays Sam is a domineering presence. She is bold and blunt and makes no bones about her doubt to anything and everything. To her, everything is a hoax. Watching her transformation from a skeptic into a believer is smooth and she does so while solidifying her relationships with her fellow castmates.

Jess (Alishia Espinosa) is masterful as she conjures up spirits and leads the group as they try and cast out the evil forces that reside within the house. She is the glue that holds the story together and she offers a nice blend of sincerity and realism that allows the audience to make a genuine connection to her character. Her relationship with the other characters each has its own unique story which Espinosa displays perfectly.

Remy who is portrayed by Jen Diaz, provides some much-needed comic relief as you try not to jump out of your seat. Her wit and spunk allow you to see a different side of the other characters and she does a splendid job allowing you to see some of her inner struggles.

Priscilla (Lorinda Hawkins Smith) provides the most contrasting array of character development on the set. For most of the show she is the sweet and heartbroken homeowner. When Hawkins Smith becomes possessed by a demon, the transformation is so complete you wonder if it is even the same character on the stage. The skill and range of emotions she displayed was simply superb.

Like with most new works, the story still needs some refining. There are some clear holes in the storyline. Also, the depth of the inner wounds of the characters is difficult to fully display given the short timespan for the rest of the play. The script felt a little forced as it takes you down a different path when you feel you are going in One Direction. This may work but would need to have more in-depth dialogue and time to properly allow the actors time to truly convey these emotions.

The final moments of the show will leave you on the edge of your seat and truly in awe of what you have just experienced. "A Skeptic and a Bruja" is far from your typical play. It is a fascinating new work that will stretch your imagination, all while being entertained by four amazing actors.

The show runs through May 1st. Tickets and more information can be found at

Photo Credit: Dylan Jon Wade Cox


WBTT Will Host Juneteenth Arts Festival This Month Photo
WBTT Will Host Juneteenth Arts Festival This Month

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe will host its first-ever Juneteenth Arts Festival. On Sunday, June 18, from 1-9 p.m., WBTT will host numerous businesses, organizations and food trucks (available all day), screen films and film shorts from local filmmakers as well as students from Ringling College of Art & Design, and present spoken word and live music on an outdoor stage.

Sarasota Native Comes Home To The Squeaky Wheel Fringe With Solo Show Photo
Sarasota Native Comes Home To The Squeaky Wheel Fringe With Solo Show

Writer/Performer Victoria Montalbano presents her solo show, The Princess Strikes Back: One Woman's Search for the Space Cowboy of her Dreams at the inaugural Squeaky Wheel Fringe Festival. The show will run in the Cook Theatre at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34243, for 2 performances from June 8-11 2023.

RENT Comes to Rise Above Performing Arts This Weekend Photo
RENT Comes to Rise Above Performing Arts This Weekend

Rise Above Performing Arts presents Rent opening this weekend. The theatre will produce 6 shows running through June 17th.

June Events at Creative Liberties to Include Two Opening Receptions, A Second Saturday Ope Photo
June Events at Creative Liberties to Include Two Opening Receptions, A Second Saturday Open Studio, and More

Creative Liberties Artist Studios and Gallery, based on a foundation of artists helping artists, will continue its season's offerings with an all-packed June.

From This Author - Jacob Ruscoe

Dr. Jacob Ruscoe has been involved with local theatre in Sarasota for the last several decades. Jacob has spent time serving on the Board of Directors for Virtuoso Inc and Rise Above Performing Arts. ... (read more about this author)


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