Previews for the Midwest premiere of the play began Sept. 12. A concurrent production that will end up on Broadway in November is now at McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ. South Coast Repertory in California will also stage a production of the play this season.
Henry Godinez, making his VGT mainstage debut, directs the Chicago premiere about life in a 1929 Cuban-American cigar factory in steamy Florida. Performances continue to Oct. 26.
Cruz is the first Hispanic to win the nation's most prestigious playwriting honor, the Pulitzer. Cruz "imagines the struggles and loves of Cuban-American factory workers who spent hour after steamy hour crafting tobacco leaves into something sublime. One factory's routine is disrupted forever with the arrival of Juan Julian, a handsome new 'lector' whose job is to read literature to the workers as they roll fine cigars. The lector's choice of Tolstoy's 'Anna Karenina' has a catalytic effect on the factory owner, his wife, their daughters and their extended family, sparking a powerful story about the search for love and identity in a new land."
The Victory Gardens cast features Charin Alvarez (Conchita), Sandra Delgado (Marela), Ricardo Gutierrez (Cheché), Sandra Marquez (Ofelia), Dale Rivera (Juan Julian), Gustavo Mellado (Santiago) and Eddie Torres (Palomo). Director Godinez is artistic associate at the Goodman Theatre.
Designers for Anna in the Tropics are Mary Griswold (set); Judith Lundberg, (costumes); and Jaymi Lee Smith, (lights). Victory Gardens Theater is located at 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue, in the heart of Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. For subscription and ticket information, call the Victory Gardens box office at (773) 871-3000, or visit www.victorygardens.org.
Anna in the Tropics, which also won the American Theatre Critics Association's 2003 Steinberg New Play Award, was commissioned and originally produced by New Theatre Miami, Florida (Rafael de Acha, artistic director, Eileen Suarez, managing director) in 2002 with the help of a grant from Theatre Communications Group.
According to his VGT bio, "Cruz, 43, came to Miami on a Freedom Flight from Cuba at the age of 10. A resident of New York, Cruz teaches playwriting at Yale University and is an alumnus of New Dramatists. His plays include Two Sisters and a Piano, A Park in Our House, Night Train to Bolina, A Bicycle Country, Dancing on her Knees, The Museum of Dreams and Beauty of the Father. Some of the theatres that have developed and performed Cruz's work are New York Public Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, McCarter Theatre, South Coast Repertory Theater, Oregon Shakespeare, Florida Stage, The Alliance Theater in Atlanta and Coconut Grove Playhouse."