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Theater review: 'Hope: Part II of a Mexican Trilogy' at LATC

November 8, 2011 | 10:30 am

It’s hard to twist and shout when you’re trained to duck and cover. In “Hope: Part II of a Mexican Trilogy,” Evelina Fernández assembles a theatrical mix tape of a Latino family facing the Cold War, domestic strife and the infectious sound of rock 'n’ roll circa 1962.

Accompanied by an on-stage pianist, Ben Taylor, the Garcia clan sings, dances and squabbles on Francois-Pierre Couture’s crisp, sherbet-shade house set. Mouthy Gina (Esperanza America Ibarra) dominates younger sister Betty (Olivia Delgado) and brothers Johnny (Keith McDonald) and sensitive Bobby (Dru Davis). Missing from the picture is their father (Geoffrey Rivas), forever stepping out on his wife, Elena (Dyana Ortelli), who turns to a devoted friend (Sal Lopez) for support.

Director José Luis Valenzuela makes strong use of his design team: Urbanie Lucero’s smooth choreography to hits like “Please Mr. Postman," Cameron Mock’s moody lighting, and Raquel Barreto’s costuming create a heightened style. The results are delicious moments like Betty’s wide-eyed phone calls to JFK and Castro to stop the Cuban missile crisis, or Davis crooning “Mister Sandman” as the family sits on their Phoenix lawn in darkness, the electricity bill unpaid.

Appealing performances mitigate the soapy story line, including Ibarra’s feisty Gina, Sam Golzari’s comic turn as her tolerant boyfriend, and Ortelli’s bruised, private Elena, a woman torn between duty and joy. With its bittersweet nostalgia, “Hope” should be a hit for the Latino Theater Company. 

--Charlotte Stoudt

“Hope: Part II of A Mexican Trilogy” Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles. 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Ends Nov. 20. $20-$40. All seats $10 on Thursdays. Contact: (866) 811-4111 or Running time: 2 hours, 5 minutes.

Photo: Esperanza America Ibarra, left, Olivia Delgado, Dyana Ortelli, Keith McDonald and Dru Davis. Credit: Hector Cruz Sandoval.