BWW Previews: AMERICAN HEARTBEAT SHINES A LIGHT ON THE INVISIBLE POPULATION at Stage West Playhouse
"What happened to Marco?" is the question playwright and founder of ProComm Theatre Troupe, Martha Velez is hoping the audience asks after the closing number of American Heartbeat.
Previously at Straz' Jaeb and Shimberg theatres, and part of the Tampa Bay Theatre Festival, playing November 22 through 24 at Stage West Playhouse in Hernando, combining heart and humor, the original musical American Heartbeat tells the poignant story of a Marine facing PTSD and an undocumented immigrant competing for the same job.
Martha explained, "This is a musical play with more narrative than a standard musical. American Heartbeat follows the pair and how they become comrades, friends, and start looking out for each other."
American Heartbeat stars Jay Ingle (Interrogator), Stefani La Porta (Bonnie Standish), Martha Velez (Playwright), Nichelle Mohre-Cassidy (Magdalena), and Scott Tilson (Marco).
The show, set in 1992, shines a light of invisible people. Martha does see the sad irony that nothing has changed 27 years later. The musical is still very relevant in 2019, adapted from a play Martha wrote called "Power of the Powerless." For Power of the Powerless, Velez was the recipient of the Los Angeles, Write On Women's Award for Acting and Playwriting.i??i??i??
Martha quoted a line from the play, " 'It's a shame people only learn their lessons in life when they are no longer any use to them.' We still have the same issues. We still haven't reconciled what's happening with undocumented immigrants or the vets that came back from Vietnam. We see them on the street corners all the time.
"It's a very thought-provoking show. It really makes you think about invisible people. All six characters are either invisible or misunderstood. We have the Vietnam vet who becomes invisible when he comes back from Vietnam, who's out on the streets living in his truck and we have undocumented immigrant who is trying to provide for his family back in Mexico who nobody really sees. They just see the negativity. The message is to see people. Take the time to see who they are."
Martha is excited to be in Stage West Playhouse, with its large and smaller theatres. She noted that the beautiful space of 135 seats allows for an intimate show.
"It's a little gem."