Luis Santeiro's Praying With the Enemy, a new satire prompted by the playwright's outrage about the Bill Clinton sex scandal eclipsing the Pope's visit to Cuba, has it world premiere April 28, following previews that began April 25, at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami.
The comedy concerns a Martha Stewart-like reporter who travels to Cuba to report about Cuban lifestyle during the Papal visit. There, she meets Cuqui, her Cuban counterpart, a cooking-show hostess whose specialty is potatoes.
Cuqui is married to Omar, a cabdriver. Their son, Lenny, is a gigolo waiting for a wealthy female tourist that will keep him as a souvenir. Meanwhile, Adriana and Arturo Soto, a Cuban-exile "princesita" and her rich workaholic husband, have returned to Cuba as informal ambassadors for the church for the first time since they left years ago. Performances continue to May 21.
The diverse cast includes two-time Carbonell Award winner, Kim Ostrenko, playing Cynthia; Eileen Galindo, celebrating critical acclaim for her one-woman off-Broadway show Dreaming in Cuban, is Cuqui; Gonzalo Madurga Omar; two-time Tony nominee Josie de Guzman (Broadway's Guys and Dolls revival) as the rosary-clenching Cuban princesita, Adriana; Gilbert Cruz, star of Florida Stage production of A Bicycle Country (which will run in the Coconut Grove Playhouse 2000 season) plays Adriana's work-aholic husband Arturo; and Oscar Isaac as the insatiable gigolo, Lenny. This is the second world premiere in a year for Santeiro, a multiple Emmy Award winner for "Que Pasa, USA?" and "Sesame Street." In fall 1999, his new musical, Barrio Babies made its debut in a staging by Denver Center Theatre Company.
This is Santeiro's fourth play produced by Coconut Grove Playhouse. Santeiro's previous productions at the Playhouse include Mixed Blessings, The Rooster & the Egg, and The Lady from Havana. Other plays include A Royal Affair and Our Lady of the Tortilla, which have had over 100 productions across the country.
Barrio Babies, received the Richard Rodgers Award and the Edward Kleban Award.
Director Michael John Garces makes his debut at the Coconut Grove Playhouse. In New York City, he staged As Five Years Pass, Forever In My Heart and Goodbye My Friduchita, which had its world premiere in the Encore Room of Coconut Grove. Garces has also written, acted and directed several productions including Agua Ardiente, as part of Dreaming in Cuban, which ran Off Broadway at The American Place Theater.
Designers are Troy Hourie (set), Ellis Tillman (costumes), Kirk Bookman (lights) and Steve Shapiro (sound).
Tickets are $30-$40. For information, call (305) 442-4000 or try the web site at http://www.cgplayhouse.com.
-- By Kenneth Jones