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Thalia offers play of love, seduction, pickpockets

"La Gran Via," a new play at the Thalia Spanish Theatre, has all the trappings of a Broadway musical, with Spanish flair.

The play, which in English can be translated as "Broadway," was adapted from two zarzuelas - Spanish musicals, written by Filipe Perez and Miguel Ramos, and combined and adapted by Angle Gil Orrios, who also produced and directed.

Set in late 1800s, early 1900s Madrid, the play is done comically, with music from the period played throughout, along with songs performed by the whole cast. Unfortunately, the songs were not translated into English, and so some of the plot is lost to non Spanish-speaking audience members.

Various municipalities are personified, and they alternately bicker, scheme and complain about their circumstances. Barley Plaza, a working class area of restaurants and markets, just wants respect.

A street fountain mermaid weeps because she is being moved to make room for a newsstand - a tremendous insult.

There are also comical pickpockets who dance as they fleece their victims, two bumbling policemen who chase them, and Vicente, a wealthy gentleman, played by Rafael Lebron, who also personifies Caballero Street. He is relieved of his pocket watch by the pickpockets at one point, and later, intimidated by a violent military character, well played by Melvin Vazquez.

Fermin Suarez plays Serafin, a scheming character who lusts after a young woman looking for Mr. Right.

The woman and her mother are living in secret poverty, and the daughter must either marry the villainous suitor, or else go back to her small village and marry a cousin.

The scoundrel schemes to seduce the woman, and plans to give the mother sleeping powder, so he can steal her away. He gets some help from Lorenzo, the owner of a plaza cantina, but Lorenzo's wife, who also agrees to go along with the scheme, has other plans for the hapless cad.

All ends well, of course, and the entire cast does a robust final song.

Reach reporter Daniel Arimborgo by e-mail at or call 229-0300 Ext. 141.

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