Review: 'La Broa' Is a Classic in the Making
Will Demers READ TIME: 3 MIN.
Trinity Repertory Company continues to celebrate its 60th anniversary with a world premiere. "La Broa' (Broad Street)" is a work adapted by Orlando Hernández, a New York based performer, choreographer, musician and writer (he appeared at Trinity in a past version of "A Christmas Carol" and "Like Sheep to Water, or Fuente Ovajuna"), His adaptation is based on and inspired by "Latino History of Rhode Island: Nuestras Raíces" by local oral historian Marta V. Martinez. And what a premiere this important work is.
Set in Providence and spanning sixty years, "La Broa' examines the struggles, successes and challenges of real life Latina/Latino locals who came to our country to pursue the American dream. As the story unfolds, we meet Ana (Rosalyn Tavarez, in her Trinity debut), a Providence college student who finds Dona Rosa (Alina Alcántara, also a debut) trying to break into a closed local market. Doña Rosa's fails at her robbery attempt (she hoped to retrieve a photo of her husband from the store), but invites Ana to her home to sample some home cooking and meet her daughter Lucretia (Marina Tejada).
Dona Rosa has many stories to tell, and she's more than willing to share when edged on by Lucretia; but when it is suggested she be interviewed for a school project, Dona Ana clams up, fearing that a recorded conversation would get the better of her. Eventually she tells the story of her journey to America and meeting her first husband Matías (Jeff Ararat) on a train platform. As they navigate the limitations of finding decent work in this country, they eventually open a local market on La Broa' (Providence's Broad Street in the South End) where locals come to gather, shop and tell stories of their lives since first arriving in the United States. It is here we meet the rest of the cast of talented actors populating this vibrant production.
From the outset each relates how members of the white, English-speaking population set up roadblocks for the Latinx community; and in doing so, make insights into racism, misogyny, and language barriers. The best example is Ana's college roommate Susan (Madeleine Russell, who appeared in Trinity's "The Inferior Sex"), who just doesn't understand Ana's heritage, and regularly berates her for being too "different" than other students. But this production doesn't just skim the surface of these issues, it fully examines them during some of America's worst periods of civil unrest. Directed by Trinity company director Tatyana-Marie Carlo, this is a skilled ensemble slipping into multiple roles . The supporting cast is exceptional, featuring Alexander Crespo-Rosario ("Sweeney Todd,") Rudy Cabrera ("A Tale of Two Cities,") Jen Anaya (her Trinity debut, she's excellent,) Arturo Puentes ("Sueno") and David Bertoldi.
Alicante is brilliant as Dona Rosa; she commands every scene with her delightfully comedic presence, tempered with pathos. Tavarez is also excellent, with Tejada as another shining example of the wonderful casting choices. And while much of the dialogue is in Spanish without surtitles; this doesn't distract for non-Spanish speaking audience members.
"La Broa'" is a classic in the making; bright, relevant and spectacular in its execution, the stories will make you laugh, cry and cheer.
"La Broa' (Broad Street) runs through February 18th at Trinity Repertory Company 201 Washington Street, Providence, RI 02903. For information or tickets, call 401-351-4242 or visit www.trinityrep.com.