Making a production out of the Virgin of Guadalupe at L.A. cathedral
For many Latino Catholics across Los Angeles, the second week of December is about paying tribute to the mother of God, La Virgen de Guadalupe.
They set up altars with lights and roses in their homes, parade in colorful street processions and awaken before sunrise each Dec. 12 to serenade the virgin at local churches.
Downtown, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, another tradition has taken root in the last nine years: a two-day musical production by the L.A.-based Latino Theater Company, drawing nearly 3,500 people for each performance.
The play brings to life the story of how in 1531, the virgin appeared four times to Indian peasant Juan Diego, a Roman Catholic convert, in the hills above Mexico City.
Others in the 150-person cast of mostly amateur actors -- grandmothers, teenagers and children with little or no acting experience -- drive from as far away as Cerritos and Oxnard to be in the play. Just before Thanksgiving each year, they set aside everything, including soccer practice, soap operas, homework and family dinners, to battle traffic and sit through four-hour rehearsals.
-- Esmeralda Bermudez
Photo: Mezzo-soprano Suzanna Guzman rises above cast members of the Latino Theater Company in a rehearsal at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times