Ortiz and Velasquez Teach Rivera's School of the Americas Off-Broadway, Opening July 6

News   Ortiz and Velasquez Teach Rivera's School of the Americas Off-Broadway, Opening July 6 Che Guevara lives on as John Ortiz plays the revolutionary opposite Patricia Velasquez in José Rivera's School of the Americas. The LAByrinth Theater Company-Public Theatre world premiere opens July 6 Off-Broadway.
John Ortiz portrays Che Guevara in School of the Americas.
John Ortiz portrays Che Guevara in School of the Americas. Photo by Michal Daniel

Mark Wing-Davey directs the LAB/Public co-production which began performances June 20 at the LuEsther Hall stage for a run scheduled through July 23. Inspired by his experience during the filming of his screen adaptation of "The Motorcycle Diaries" and based on historical fact, Rivera pens this new work set in the Bolivian jungle where Che Guevara (Ortiz) was captured and held in a one-room school house. There, a young school teacher (Velasquez) insists that she speaks to the famous revolutionary. Her conversation with Che is the basis for the work.

Joining Ortiz and Velasquez in the cast are Karina Arroyave, Raul Castillo, Nathan LeBron and Felix Solis.

Ortiz has appeared on Broadway in Anna in the Tropics and Off-Broadway in Rivera's References to Salvador Dalí Make Me Hot. For LAB, he has starred in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Guinea Pig Solo, Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, Where’s My Money? and the forthcoming Jack Goes Boating with first-time co-stars (and co-artistic director) Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Velasquez — who makes her professional stage debut — has amassed acting credits in "The Mummy" movies and television stints on "American Family," "Ed," "Arrested Development," "Rescue Me" and "CSI: Miami."

Wing-Davey has previously staged Henry V, 36 Views, The Skriker, Troilus and Cressida and Silence, Cunning, Exile at the Public Theater. The British director recently staged the musicalDirty Dancing in Sydney, Australia and Craig Lucas' Small Tragedy Off-Broadway. He is also known for his work on Caryl Churchill's Mad Forest.

Tickets to School of the Americas at the Public, 425 Lafayette Street, are available by calling (212) 239-6200. For more information, visit www.labtheater.org.

From left: Patricia Velasquez and John Ortiz in <i>School of the Americas</i>.
From left: Patricia Velasquez and John Ortiz in School of the Americas. Photo by Michal Daniel