Latin-Americans in Los Angeles Theater

Anna In the Tropics by Nilo Cruz – Academy Theater

As soon as you step into the theater, the smell of cigars enthralls your nose and immediately takes you to a cigar factory in Tampa. Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz, it’s a 2003 Pulitzer award winning play; directed by Diana Brown. We decided to see this production of Anna in the Tropics because almost the entire cast featured Latino actors and here in Hispanic Media we like to follow the upcoming stars that will represent our community.

The year is 1929 set in Ybor City, Florida; a Cuban American family that owns the cigar factory eagerly awaits the arrival of a new lector, (as it is in Cuban tradition to have someone read to the workers while they roll cigars) Juan Julian (Javier Melgar Santoveña), who is supposed to be one of the best lectors in Cuba. The cigar factory is owned by Santiago (Junaid Khan) the patriarch of the family and its he who hires the lector for his workers. Juan Julian decides to read from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and the scandalous stories from the book start to mesh with the lives of the Family. Conchita (Marissa Godinez) is the eldest daughter who is married to Palomo (Gustavo Cintra) who has cheated on her and made their marriage difficult. Marela (Alejandra Pulido) the youngest, is immature but full of life and pines over the handsome lector. As the matriarch, we have Ofelia (Monica Guzman) who is a sweet and loving woman trying to fight for the life of her daughters and her company. As Juan Julian reads the stories of Anna Karenina, Cheche (Jeff Venter) Santiago’s half-brother starts irritated because it resembles his reality in which his wife left him for the previous lector they hired in the company, so having Juan Julian around isn’t in his comfort zone. Gambling, affairs, some money problems and industrialization that threatens to put the cigar rollers out of work, are some of the issues the characters must deal with. The entire family is searching for hope and a better life but instead, they are met with tragedy at the end, just like in Anna Karenina.

A brilliant performance by all the actors and an amazing directorial job from Diana Brown who found a way to bring the audience into the factory and the lives of the characters. The entire ensemble was fantastic but we must note those notable performances like Monica Guzman as Ofelia, the mother, was so hilariously lovable that she stole our hearts. Gustavo Cintra warmed the audience’s hearts and made us forgive him for what he did to his wife, which brings us to the astonishing beauty and powerhouse actress that is Marissa Godinez, full of power and emotion she took the stage. The lector, with a soothing voice and the sex appeal of a true Latin lover, Javier Melgar Santoveña’s performance made everyone doubt if Conchita should pick her husband or just run away with the lector. We have to give a special mention to Junaid Khan from Mumbai, India, for being the only actor that is not of Hispanic descent, but still managing to represent the Latino culture like a true Latino.
One of the wonderfull things of this production in particular was the diversity of Latin American actors it featured. Monica Guzman from Mexico, Javier Melgar Santoveña-Guatemala, Alejandra Pulido-Colombia/Florida, Gustavo Cintra-Brasil and Milagros Ortega-Peru. We are very proud of all these actors and strongly belive that their amazing work deserved some praise.

If you wanna find learn more about the actors featured in this article, stayed tuned for upcoming interviews, reviews and more articles.

Hispanic Media
Cristina Saravia