Review by Jeffrey Scott
Award-winning local theatre company, Green Room Theatre Company Coachella Valley (GRTCCV), debuts Gary Soto’s award-winning “Novio Boy” and takes it on the road to the people.
Beginning in La Quinta and continuing onto venues in Thermal and Desert Hot Springs, the touring company brings this comedy of adolescence and ambition told through the lens of its main character, Rudy (played by the talented and charismatic Luis Miguel Ibarra) who may or may not be the autobiographical voice of the author.
The simple set yet complex collection of props in addition to the innovative hair and makeup by Heaven Rodriguez, create the scenes for the audience and transport them on a journey of family, relationships, love and loss, and eventually celebration and success. A backdrop designed and painted by local artist Michael Angelo Hernandez brings in the flavor of the culture being highlighted in this play while the script, even though focused on Soto’s upbringing in Fresno, has been updated by director David Catanzarite (with permission from Soto) to reflect the local experience and environment of the East Coachella Valley.
The small ensemble of 10 actors truly deserve a standing-O. Their energy is infectious, delivery of lines is truthful (although sometimes a bit over-the-top), and they win over the audience’s affection through their delightful storytelling.
In addition to the aforementioned Ibarra, other standouts are the outlandish and hilarious performance of Zelaya Divina Sanchez who’s comic timing rivals that of Alda Rodriquez and Julian Perez who commands the stage each and every time he walks onstage. Perez and fellow musician Ambry Padilla also create some wonderful musical moments throughout the production.
GRTCCV’s Executive Artistic Director David Catanzarite says he “hopes to expose more of the community to high-caliber theatre by providing all of the performances free to the public, thanks to an IMPACT Grant from the California Arts Council. This show is for people of all ages who may not have easy access to theatre. We’re bringing professional theatre to their neighborhoods.”
The final performances of “Novio Boy” are on Saturdays, May 6 and May 13 at 1 p.m. at Grace Church in Desert Hot Springs, 17400 Bubbling Wells Road.
For more information, updates on the performance schedule, or to get involved with GRTCCV, please call (760) 696-2546 or visit www.greenroomtheatrecompany.org.
Jeffrey Scott is a former reviewer for BroadwayWorld-Los Angeles, now freelance.