Reviewed by Michael Edwards
(To honor Hispanic Heritage Month, Discover Hollywood ventured eastward out of Hollywood to Boyle Heights. It was well worth the trip.)
Josefina Lopez's ("Real Women Have Curves") brand new world premiere work, "
Queen of The Rumba," now open at the CASA 0101 in Boyle Heights has once again electrified the stage with Ms. Lopez' unique and grounded storytelling fire.
Set in a Miami hospital in 1997 with flashbacks to Havana Cuba and Paris, France (1920's/30's), "Queen of The Rumba", is inspired by the true story of Alica Parla, a 21-year-old Cuban American girl who set the world on fire with her Rumba dance.
From her hospital bed at 89, Alicia, played by a magnetic and graceful Paloma Morales, comforts a dying girl (though she herself is dying) by revisiting moments in her life as the premiere Rumba dancer in 1920's Paris, dancing the rumba alone with passion rather than under the more classically accepted guidance of a man. Alicia suffers the social judgment of her family, but her undeniable fire and ability show the world a kind of independence that Ms. Lopez celebrates so beautifully.
The cast is committed and beautiful, moving from intense authentic rumba dance to spoken word to grounded scene work seamlessly. Special mentions include Mauricio Marte as Marcos. His quiet focus and powerful energy carry much of the grace of this play. Vivian Marie Lamolli electrifies with her movement and stunning presence. And Angel Juarez's young Alicia is the pilot light that maintains our joy of the unfolding story from start to finish. An excellent performance.
Corky Dominguez directs a fluid piece with a focus on the authentic dance and feeling behind the rumba. The production is minimalist but very effective. "Queen of the Rumba" is a joy to take in and a window to an authentic passion. The Rumba.
CASA 0101 Theater sponsors include: The California Endowment, Los Angeles County Department of Arts & Culture, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, The Herb Alpert Foundation, California Arts Council, L.A. Arts Recovery Fund, Eastside Arts Initiative, Sherman Fairchild Foundation and The Perenchio Foundation.
Tickets for the Five-Week Run QUEEN OF THE RUMBA through October 22, 2023 are $25.00 per person for General Admission; $20.00 per person for Students and Seniors 60+.
This show is recommended for all audiences. Advance reservations are highly recommended. For tickets, please call the CASA 0101 Theater Box Office at 323-263-7684, E-mail
or buy online at
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Free Parking is also available on several streets surrounding the theatre. Limited Free Parking is also available at the Boyle Heights City Hall Parking Lot located at 2130 East First Street (at Chicago Street) by entering the lot from Chicago Street.