Theater Review: “La Olla” – A Pot Filled With Laughter and Rumba

By Edgar Lopez

Los Angeles, CA –  Directed by Jose Luis Valenzuela and produced by the Latino Theater company (LTC), La Olla, a literary adaptation of the Roman comedy The Pot of Gold by Plautus, brings the theatergoers of Los Angeles a contemporary and fresh story filled with laughter, singing, dancing and reflection.  Evelina Fernandez’s La Olla, originally commissioned by The Getty Museum as part of the Getty Villa Theater Lab Series in 2015, had it’s world premiere on Saturday, March 26th at the Los Angeles Theater Center.

Inspired by the vibrant and extravagant golden age of the Mexican cinemas, playwright Fernandez (who also plays the role of Staphyla in the production) immediately transmits the audience with the unique taste of the Cuban rumba music and  with some of the most popular Mexican and American songs.

A space in the city of Los Angeles, the East side, is reserved for La Olla, a night club owned by Megadorus (Geoffrey Rivas) a man with a doubtful sexual orientation who runs this peculiar nightspot where the stories of its artists, assistants, hosts and even of some lurking strangers, are told in a fun and original way.

Leo (Sal Lopez), a bit player in a shady 1950’s nightclub, finds a pot of cash and is overtaken by greed as he plans to use the money to become a “star.” As he focuses on keeping his treasure safe, the nightclub show must go on as music plays, dancers dance, and Leo falls into a frenzied state of confusion where motives are misinterpreted with hilarious results.

The essence of each of the characters is connected to the reality of our modern times. Playwright Fernandez carefully rescues and exposes the emotions of Plautus characters including their flaws, and of course their strengths as she transports them into a modern day setting.

america esperanza
Actress America Esperanza (Phaedria) and actor Sam Golzari (Lyconides)

The one area I feel could have added more to the production was the costuming. It didn’t quite live up to the “spectacle” of La Olla night club.  The costumes lacked the vibrancy and extravagant feel of the play. It by no means takes away from the quality of the play, it’s fantastic and guaranteed to please.

The performances of actors such as Sal Lopez (Euclio), Gastulo Guerra (Sobersides), America Esperanza (La Diva, Phaedria), and Fidel Gomez (St. Genesius, Strobilus, Mack) and the fine and elegant direction of Valenzuela really highlights the artistic elements that all plays must have.

La Olla contains the necessary ingredients to make you laugh, reflect and wonder what might happen in your life (or change it), including your family, friends and relatives, if you find a pot of gold.

Additional Cast members include:  Xavi Moreno (Eunomia, Hank, Chon) and Sam Golzari (Lyconides, Sam, Eel).

Choreography by Urbanie Lucero; Set & Projection Design by Yee Eun Nam; Lights & Projection Design, Pablo Santiago; Sound design, John Zalewski;Costume Design Naila Aladdin-Sanders, Puppet Design Camille Villanueva; Musical Director Rosino Serrano; Stage Manager Henry “Heno” Fernandez.

March 24 – April 24, 2016 at The Los Angeles Theatre Center 514 S. Spring St. Los Angeles, CA 90013.  La Olla is performed without an intermission.

Purchase Tickets HERE

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