¡Hola, Amigos! Houston’s Alley Theatre has teamed up with the Hartford Stage and Huntington Theater Company to bring Quixote Nuevo to the Bayou City. The stage production, a vibrant, super-entertaining modern-spin on Cervantes’ classic, Don Quixote, is now playing through February 9th at the Alley Theatre’s Hubbard Theatre. The play is a crowd-pleaser and whether you’re a longtime fan of Cervantes or you’re entirely new to this tale and its eponymous character, you’re in for a slashing good time.
Any film or stage adaptation of Don Quixote requires a tremendous performance in the lead role. The character is downright silly at times and it is up to the person embodying him to not only be humorous, but to also bring depth, humanity, and authenticity to the character. Emilio Delgado (Sesame Street) is up to the task as Jose Quijano/Don Quixote. He anchors Quixote Nuevo with a quietly exuberant performance and imbeds Quixote with a warm world-weariness that suits the character well. He’s proud and chivalrous and Delgado never breaks character, rocking a bedpan on his head that resembles a cowboy hat and riding around on a decked-out tricycle, complete with skull and sword.
“What’s with the bike?” Traditionalists might ask. This iteration of Don Quixote transports the story from 17th Century Spain to present-day La Plancha, Texas, a fictional border town close to Mexico. Director KJ Sanchez is based out of Austin and Quixote Nuevo is filled with Tejano music, Texas soul and Mexican-American flavor. There’s also some timely social commentary. The majority of Octavio’s Solis’ script is in English, but it’s peppered and accented with comments in Spanish, and some of them are highly comical (and filthier than anything said in English). While it isn’t necessary to speak Spanish, it’s a bonus. I know enough that I could understand and appreciate some of the comments, but not all. My wife filled me in after the show.
Juan Manual Amado plays Manny Dias, a young man with a bike souped-up to sell Paletas (Mexican frozen treats). In Quixote’s eyes, Manny is “Sancho Panza,” his longtime squire/right-hand man. I really enjoyed Amado’s performance. He’s the perfect Sancho to Delgado’s Quixote, and he was the source of many of my laughs. Amado and Delgado create a fun dynamic for their contrasting characters and they play off each other well. The rest of the 9-person cast, including Gianna Digregorio Rivera (Antonia/Inez) and Gisela Chípe (Dr. Campos/Dulcinea) bring the energy and excel in multiple roles. The “Easy Rider” song in the first act (don’t know the actual title) had me grooving in my seat.
Quixote Nuevo is a blast. The audience erupted into applause 4 times in the middle of the play and the buzz in the lobby after the show was palpable. People seemed to linger around longer than usual, chatting and taking advantage of the photo opp with play swords. That night we were all the heroes of our own sagas.
Get your tickets here and check out some photos below:
About the Alley Theatre:
The Alley Theatre, one of America’s leading nonprofit theatres, is a nationally recognized performing arts company led by Artistic Director Rob Melrose and Managing Director Dean R. Gladden. The Alley produces at least 16 plays each year in its newly renovated Theatre, ranging from the best current work, to re-invigorated classic plays, to new plays by contemporary writers. The Alley is home to a Resident Acting Company. In addition, the Alley engages theatre artists of every discipline – actors, designers, composers, playwrights – who work on individual productions throughout each season as visiting artists. The 2015 renovation of the Alley’s Hubbard Theatre created a new 774-seat state-of-the-art performance venue. Matched with the newly rebuilt 296-seat Neuhaus Theatre, the Alley offers nearly 500 performances each season. The Alley Theatre reaches over 200,000 people each year through its performance and education programs. Its audience enrichment programs include pre-show and post-performance talks, events, and workshops for audience members of all ages.
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