A delightful play with music, dancing and a heart

By Iride Aparicio

The Cast of “SOMEWHERE”   Photo By: Tracy Martin

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA—The Regional Premiere of “SOMEWHERE was  presented to the press on Saturday, January l9, at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts in Mountain View, California. The play  opened with a scene showing the living room of a tenement house with two teenagers verbally  fighting with each other, one laying on the sofa and the other kneeling in front of him shouting “I am going to kill you” pointing his gun at the other boy’s face.  

The scene, apparently deceiving, is understood only at the end of the  play, which takes place in the year l959, and appears to be about dreams, music and lots of dancing. Because everybody dances in the Candelaria Family.

Written by playwright MATTHEW LOPEZ, and directed by GIOVANNA SARDELLI the play relates the story of a “Borinque” family (from Puerto Rico) living in New York City. The members of the family are: Inez, the  mother (PRISCILLA LOPEZ), and her three children: Alejandro (MICHAEL ROSEN) Francisco (EDDIE GUTIERREZ) and Rebecca (MICHELLE CABINIAN).  There is also mention of their father (which we never see) who was a famous singer in Puerto Rico, but who unable to find work as a singer in New York  and tired of working as a dishwasher, left his family behind and went to live in Cuba to try his luck.

From L-R  Rebecca, Inez (back)  Alejandro (center)  y Francisco
Photo By: Mark Kitaoka

Innez (LOPEZ) is aware that all her children inherited the artistic talent of their father and in spite of being poor, she tries her best to nourish their “talent.”  Because Francisco (GUTIERREZ) wants to be an actor, she pays for her acting lessons. For Rebecca, (CABINIAN) who wants to be a dancer, she pays for her ballet school.  The most talented of  her three children, however, is Alejandro (ROSSEN) her oldest, but he is a realist now. He refuses to live in the “dream world" of his family. after being “rejected” by the cast people of Broadway several times in previous dancing auditions, he stopped auditioning.  Being the oldest brother, he is doing now what he considers “his duty” which is  working as a clerk  in a supermarket to provide the groceries that feed the family.

On her part, Inez Candelaria  (LOPEZ) who works as an usherette in the New York Theatre where "West Site Story" (the musical) is being rehearsed, is trying to get her children into show business, without success.  We lean that as a young kid, Alejandro represented one of the king's children in the stage musical  “The King and I” but nothing came out of it.

          Tony Winner PRISCILLA LOPEZ  Photo by: Tracy Martin

What keeps Inez  (LOPEZ) going is the love of her husband, and she dreams that her husband, who writes her often to remind her how much he loves her, is going to come home, one day and that all the family is going to be together again.

During the play, we learn that Francisco wants to act in West Site Story and that Rebecca wants to dance with “the Sharks’ girls” in the same musical.  Their problem is that in spite of being Puerto Rican, very talented and have a “connection” in Jamie MacRea  (LEO ASH EVENS) an American friend of the family who was raised in the same tenement with them. Jamie, who is a dancer, made it big in Broadway, and now works with the producers in "West Site Story" but he is in no position to get them a job.

After being rejected for the show, both Francisco (GUTIERREZ)  and Rebecca (CABINIAN)  think that it is ironic that being true Portoricans and talented they cannot get a job into a musical that represents Portoricans. Sadly, the casting problem continues. A few people in the audience were surprised that night,  that in the cast of a  play about a Puerto Rican family, two out of the four roles of  Portoricans, were played by non Hispanic actors.

The Candelaria family is sustained by their dreams, but soon their dreams begin braking when they learn that their building (where their apartment is) is about to be tore down to build a new center for the arts to be named LINCOLN CENTER.

SOMEWHERE 4 Left Rebecca (CABINIAN) rehearses a dance with Jamie  (LEO ASH EVENS) Photo by: Tracy Martin

The play is natural in its dialogue and as the play’s director, SARDELLI  managed to get veritable performances from each one of the actors.

In his role as Alejandro, by  refusing to go on dreaming of becoming a famous dancer, and stop going to audition, ROSEN let us see his  bitterness, his complete disregard for his life and his deep sadness. As he was before, he is still fully aware of his own talent, but he just gave up on it because he knows that even when he may have more talent than his friend Jamie, he may have been denied Jamie’s chances to suceed for the simple reason that he (Alejandro) does not look like his friend. Alejandro is still young, but his burden is very heavy.  He is the only one in the whole family who knows his father’s “secret” and he believes that it is "his duty" to keep his mother from discovering it.  So for many years he has been  playing a “reality role” and in the process, and unknown to his family, he uses his "talent" to act for them, every day.

As for  Francisco (GUTIERREZ), in time, he understands the tremendous burden it is for his mother to pay for his acting lessons, which are very expensive. At the end, he decides to stop them.

Rebecca (CABINIAN) does not have to stop. Her hard work pays off for her.  All those painful dancing lessons are rewarded at the end. She fulfills her dream. In her case, however, she does not grow in character, Rebecca grows in tallent by becoming the “great dancer” her mother always wanted.

As for Inez, (Tony-winner actress PRISCILLA LOPEZ) when her dream brakes, she is much to strong a woman to suffer a meltdown.  She has always solved her problems with faith. She will go on believing that at the end, everything will turn OK for her. And we believe it too because in her superb acting, she managed to involve us in her whole range of emotions. We identify with her now, so even when we cannot dance with her, we laugh wit her  and we cry when she cries.

The end of the play, however, needs its two final scenes to be  switched. The foreshadowing of the end, was shown very subtly at the beginning of the play. Because of it, it could be more dramatic if the audience sees the Christmas scene in Hollywood first,  and then Alejandro's superb dancing as he lets himself go for the first time,  jumping high in the air with open arms as an eagle flying in  front of a black firmament with a thousand  shinning stars. This scene is so beautiful, that we need to go home with it, carrying it in our minds.  

Alejandro (MICHAEL ROSEN) loses himself in dance.
Photo By: Mark Kitaoka

SOMEWHERE will be presented at MOUNTAIN VIEW CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS 500 Castro St. in Mountain View. Until February l0. For information and tickets call (650)463-l960 or visit theatreworks.org, online.