‘American Fiesta’, OLE!

American Fiesta's Director David Rose, Artist's Larry Cedar and Playwright Steve Tomlinson, during opening nite gala. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

By Greg Simay

American Fiesta is the kind of entertainment that makes it clear why The Colony Threatre  continues to be one of the nation’s top theatrical venues.

Red, blue, yellow green.  Many colorful plates and bowls on shelves.  A geek chorus of three flat screens. Two rolling tables separating and joining.  A pathbreaking play from a man (PLAYWRIGHT STEVEN TOMLINSON) with one foot in the spiritual and the other in the profane. And one amazing actor (LARRY CEDAR) turning words into 80 uninterrupted minutes of magic.

American Fiesta’s Director David Rose, Main Lead Larry Cedar Colony Artistic Director Barbara Beckley and Playwright Steve Tomlinson, during opening nite gala. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Stephen (LARRY) has hit the big four-oh. He’s going to marry his male partner Leon Alvarez in Vancouver, Canada. (“I’ve never been to Vancouver. I just feel better knowing it’s there.”) But first there’s the trip from their “tribal enclave” in Austin, Texas to Stephen’s tradition-minded parents in Oklahoma. With voice and gesture, wit and humor, LARRY masterfully evokes his no-nonsense lover, his warm-hearted mother and still-waters-run-deep father.

But American Fiesta is more than an engaging domestic drama. (Reader alert: Some of you may prefer to see the play before absorbing anyone else’s take on its deeper meaning.)

American Fiesta shows us how we can reclaim our lives by reclaiming what our possessions mean to us. Especially iconic possessions like American Fiesta cups, dishes and bowls, introduced in the 1930s to bring colorful cheer to families under grey Great Depression skies.  DIRECTOR DAVID ROSE brings out this theme clearly without hitting us over the head with it.

American Fiesta’s Director David Rose, Artist’s Larry Cedar and Playwright Steve Tomlinson, during opening nite gala. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Stephen’s on the staff of Neurometrics, an outfit that figures out what buttons to push in our brains so that we to punch the right holes in the voting booth. There are lots aplenty as the three flat screens show us how marketers also exploit brain chemistry to make us reflexively crave any product…including American Fiesta ware.

But an old antiques dealer (also wonderfully evoked) challenges Larry to ask himself why he really wants a particular American Fiesta bowl.  And that question engages his brain’s more reflective side, one that can find meaning in chips as well as unblemished surfaces. Larry begins to fully possess his life by drawing out what its events mean to him. And in so doing, his American Fiesta set becomes an extension of his deep personal connections.

The colors red and blue have come to stand for opposed constellations of political and social attitudes. Watch what Stephen does at the very end of this remarkable play.

Continues through Sunday, October 21. Performances are Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00 p.m.; Saturday’s at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.; and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Ticket prices range from $20.00 to $42.00. Student, senior and group discounts are available. For tickets, call the Colony Theatre Box Office at 818/558-7000 ext.15 or online at www.ColonyTheatre.Org.


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