Entertainment » Theatre

Learn To Be Latina

by Kay Bourne
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday May 25, 2011
Rory Kulz, Maureen Adduci, David Giagrando in "Learn To Be Latina"
Rory Kulz, Maureen Adduci, David Giagrando in "Learn To Be Latina"  

"Hips don't lie" sings Shakira as the curtain rises on the bawdy "Learn To Be Latina," but from then on it's one falsehood after another in the high spirited, X- rated production at the Boston Playwrights' Theater through June 5.

The New England premiere of the graphic sex romp and farce is a presentation of Company One and Phoenix Theatre Artists, which brought "The Superheroine Monologues" to the same stage last season.

Enrique Urueta's burlesque of the music business follows the sadly all too probable career trajectory of Hanan Mashalani - gorgeous, a great singer, but "the wrong kind of brown" for record executives whose demographics tell them Lebanese American is "not marketable," not "kerching kerchingable." Not in this day and age of terrorism, they figure, showing their ignorance of who's radical and who's not in the Middle East.

The naughty office comedy directed by Greg Maraio for all its wit (and salaciousness) follows Hanan's rise to stardom under their tutelage with plenty of stops along the way for overtly hot gay and lesbian sex encounters. The male execs (usually) exit to the bathroom at every turn for quickie moments, while Hanan and receptionist Blanca, whom the upper level execs refer to as the "office bitch," make it whenever nobody else is around. Their growing love for each other is one of the few realities in this faux environment.

Rounding out the cast, everyone is under the thumb of the top honcho Mary who speaks with an Irish brogue as thick as a helping of corned beef on St. Paddy's Day.

It seems hardly imaginable that records get made in this hot bed of relationships but apparently they do as Hanan skyrockets to fame, her photo on the slick magazines and with appearances on MTV.

Characterization is of paramount importance in this show whose storyline is scarcely more than an extended SNL sketch, funny but slight. Fortunately Maraio has gathered a wonderful contingent of actors for these giddy parts. He also has dressed them with panache and designed the set as well, which is minimal but effective. P.J. Strachman does a good job with the lighting which brings out the best in a low budget production.

The three suits - Jill, Will, and Bill- portrayed variously by Maureen Adduci, David Giagrando, and Rory Kulz - speak as one in a line up reminiscent of the see-no, speak-no, hear-no evil monkeys. Their take it or leave it pronouncements delivered in unison to Hanan are like a polished vaudeville act. Individually they're a hoot too.

In an amazing chameleon performance, Crystal Lisbon as their boss Mary and later as a wild Latina TV interviewer, created roles so different I didn't recognize this was the same actress until I studied the program.

The Lesbian lovers add a welcomed note of true feeling to the goings on. Kristina Kattar gives a heartfelt performance as Blanca who believes that love trumps all, while Shawna O'Brien (who effectively doubles as the choreographer) is perfect as the aspiring star Hanan who has to choose between celebrity and reality.

Playwright Urueta is right on about the music industry which definitely favors product over promoting a talented performer in her own right. In this way "Learn To Be Latina" hits el clavo on the head.

"Learn To Be Latina" continues Thurs., Fri., and Sat. at 8 pm with Sun. matinees at three through June 5 at Boston Playwrights' Theater, 949 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. For more info you can go on-line to www.companyone.org or phone 866-811-4111. For mature audiences only, contains crude language and adult situations.

Comments on Facebook