A highly amusing (and often moving) yet insightful production.

By: Sep. 19, 2022
L-R Laura Virella, Luz Nicolas, and Fran Tapia in GALA Hispanic Theatre's production of Revoltosa-The Troublemaker.
Photo by Daniel Martinez.

Revoltosa-The Troublemaker , now playing at GALA Hispanic Theatre ---is a compelling and lyrical "slice of life" with multiple layers of interest for just about any thinking and feeling human being who is willing to entertain the idea that life is full of mystery, contradictions and certain universal elemental truths about human nature. This highly amusing (and often moving) yet insightful production (sub-titled as "Variations on the 1897 zarzuela for today") is given a zesty and comically on-target interpretation by a committed ensemble under the direction of José Luis Arellano.

In a world that it is often too serious for its own good, it is refreshing to see the zarzuela (a Spanish-lyric dramatic genre that alternates between spoken and sung scenes, the latter incorporating operatic and popular songs-usually satiric in nature). Based on a text by J.Lόpez Silva and Fernández Shaw and adapted by Paco Gámez, this production has wisely tapped into the highly relevant themes that still percolate today such as the battle between the sexes, class consciousness, secret identities, lusty appetites, and jealousy. Director Arellano has melded the fiery music (Musical Direction by David Peralto), the acting, the spoken dialogue and ---especially ---the utilization of the stage space into one cohesive whole.

The vison of this production is in its message to enjoy the zarzuela tradition of Ruperto Chapí (the famed Spanish composer) and but to expand on it with so many interesting elements. The tone of Revolstosa is indeed satiric yet never too broad or too rigid; the production hits all the right notes figuratively and literally.

Conductor Alberto Granados Reguilόn led a group of amazing musicians who played beautifully. The musicians played so evocatively in specific moments when the actors were frozen in stunning almost "painterly-like" tableaux. The musicians underscored the characters' emotional and comic tones with finesse.

The Courtyard setting gives way to eavesdropping and gossip (think of the film "Rear Window" only set amongst another group of characters in a totally different situation!) as the characters battle for the attention of the enticing central character-Mari Pepa (a concurrently distinctive yet subtle performance by Laura Virella). Macho bluster is satirized heavily as well as the gossip of nosy neighbors and community.

Laura Virella's portrayal of the supposed "agitator and troublemaker" was well-developed to show the character's inherent understanding of her control and humor. The joke of the play seems to be that the lead character is always calm and possessed while the other characters overreact and over-analyze perceived misunderstandings. Ms. Virella shone in the passionate duet with Joselu Lόpez as Felipe: "Dúo de Felipe y Mari Pepa".

Alexal Alburqueque was a master of acting dexterity in the dual roles of Candelas and Chupitos. Mr. Alburqueque showed a mastery of comedy in the hilarious "El engano de Chupitos" (The Deception of Chupitos).

A radiantly interpreted solo vocal was delivered by Anamer Castrello (Manuela) in a mezzo-soprano voice full of depth and resonance.

Theatricality triumphs in the superior technical virtues of this production. Kudos to scenic designer Clifton Chadick. Strings of lights hang down from wires with the most petite light bulbs adding a sparkling, illuminative effect. A scene with red roses was stunning. The fourth wall was often broken with intriguing interaction with the cast talking to the audience, narrating events directly and going up and down the aisles.

The choreography by Omar Nieves is superbly intricate throughout. At times, the choreography had a very cinematic feel-- particularly in a highly syncopated ensemble number.

Costume design by Cidney Forkpah was natural with earth tones when appropriate yet, concurrently, strikingly attention-getting when needed for comic or glitzy effect.

The production was beautifully lit by lighting designer Alberto Segarra.

Often the production reminded me of the Fellini film 8 1/2 ----or the long-running musical The Fantasticks in its extremely welcoming open theatrical staging.

If you are in the mood for a lyrical and comic evocation of human nature, do not miss GALA Hispanic Theatre's production of Revoltosa (The Troublemaker).

Running Time: Two Hours with one fifteen -minute intermission.

Revoltosa (The Troublemaker) is performed in Spanish with English surtitles. The production runs through October 2, 2022, at GALA Hispanic Theatre, located at 3333 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20010.