It was a scandal that involved a federal judge, three brothers, a Mexican drug trafficking ring, a .240-caliber rifle, and... Woody Harrelson's father! Now that's a concoction that is chock-full of enough meaty material for any writer to start with. Playwright Octavio used these ingredients to cook up his play, Santos & Santos, finishing its New York premiere Off Off Broadway at the Studio Theatre, Aug. 5. The Imua! Theatre Company presentation, which began performances July 14, officially opened July 18.
Santos chronicles the story of Miguel and Fernando Santos, a sibling lawyer team that had been funding their business' finances with the money they were making by smuggling drugs over the Mexican border. After returning home to join the firm, their younger brother Tomas becomes indicted and has to face a Supreme Court judge and the decision to betray his family.
The play, which premiered at the Dallas Theatre Center in 1995, is based on the real-life fall of the house of Chagra in El Paso, Texas. The infamous Chagra brothers were implicated in the 1979 assassination of U.S. District Judge "Maximum" John Wood. In the end, one of the brothers was gunned down, the other two were imprisoned, but the conviction for Wood’s murder went to their hired gunman, Charles Harrelson (Woody Harrelson’s father).
Director Michael John Garcés (INTAR's As Five Years Go By and Forever In My Heart) heads up the true crime production by the award-winning El Paso native Solis (Man of the Flesh and DTC's Dreamlandia). The cast of Santos includes Dacyl Acevedo, Arthur Acuña, David Anzuelo, Maite Bonilla, Jose Febus, Dorothea Harahan, Yvonne Jung, Jesse Ontiveros, Kaipo Schwab, Don Silva, Nilaja Sun, Manuel Terrón, and Sturgis Warner. Scenic design is by Antje Ellerman, with costumes by Mimi O'Donnell, sound by David Lawson, and lights by Shawn Kaufman.
The Imua! (which is Hawaiian for "to move forward") Theatre Company plays at the Studio Theatre, 416 West 42 St. For tickets ($15) and information call (212) 971-1074. -- by Ernio Hernandez