Teatro Vista's LA HAVANA MADRID has enjoyed an especially exciting journey since debuting in May of this year. Following a sold-out run at Steppenwolf's 1700 Theatre, the production moved to The Miracle Center, where tickets went just as quickly. Finally, the talented ensemble has landed at The Goodman Theatre, and the production has never looked better.
Written by and starring Sandra Delgado, LA HAVANA MADRID chronicles a decade of Chicago history, told through the lens of various Latinx individuals based on interviews conducted by Delgado. Several of the real-life personas reflected on stage attended The Goodman's opening on Wednesday night.
The production's namesake is the former nightclub at Belmont and Sheffield in the area now known as Boystown. "We are living on these layers," Delgado states, and throughout the magical evening of music, the audience learns of a Chicago history that many don't acknowledge. The live tunes are lead by Roberto "Carpacho" Marin (who is also a character in the play, depicted with infectious charm by Marvin Quijada).
Delgado and the band keep the production moving as the interconnected scenes are spaced throughout, celebrating the histories of Cuban, Dominican, Colombian and Puerto Rican immigrants while also acknowledging the others who have walked the same paths. Numerous Chicago landmarks are name-dropped along the way, making the production feel even more universal.
The most effective selection from the show comes from Donovan Diaz; he shifts from hilarious and boyish to devastatingly serious in a heartbeat, and Delgado's fine script has some incredibly impactful moments. However, because the scenes rely so heavily on the actors performing monologues, each scene is only as strong as its performer. These moments certainly vary, but the majority of the ensemble is up to the challenge and even the most bashful of audience members will feel inclined to join the fun. LA HAVANA MADRID is not only excellent theatre, but it is a magnificent familial experience. We are not just being invited back into a club, but into a family - - and all are welcome here.
Reviewed by Jason Berger
La Havana Madrid continues at The Goodman Theatre through August 20th. More info here.