The Verdict: Did Critics Applaud Another Word for Beauty, About Prison Beauty Contest?

The Verdict   The Verdict: Did Critics Applaud Another Word for Beauty, About Prison Beauty Contest? Another Word for Beauty, a new music-and-movement-filled play by Oscar nominee José Rivera ("The Motorcycle Diaries"), had its world premiere at Chicago's Goodman Theatre. The work is inspired by an annual beauty pageant at El Buen Pastor women's prison in Colombia.
Danaya Esperanza, Carmen Zilles, Zoë Sophia Garcia (Nora), Stephanie Andrea Barron and Helen Cespedes in <i>Another Word for Beauty</i>
Danaya Esperanza, Carmen Zilles, Zoë Sophia Garcia (Nora), Stephanie Andrea Barron and Helen Cespedes in Another Word for Beauty Photo by Liz Lauren

The new work is helmed by Steve Cosson and features seven original songs by Grammy Award winner Héctor Buitrago. The show was developed through a co-commission between the Goodman and Cosson’s New York-based, investigative theatre company, The Civilians.

Read reviews below. Playbill will update as more are posted:

Chicago Reader

Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago Tribune Newcity Stage

TimeOut Chicago

See Playbill.com's story about the musical, Beauty Mark: How This Chicago Play Makes a Statement About Race, Women and Society.

The show's creators traveled to Bogotá, Colombia, to interview some of the incarcerated women in the lead-up to the pageant, where the inmates compete for the title of "Señorita Simpatía." From their research, they created "a fictionalized but based on true events look at the lives of these women—including their flaws and failures, but also humanity and potential—and the annual event intended by their jailers to motivate and rehabilitate them."

"Rivera’s raucous, moving and exhilarating new play takes us to a world where the concept of ‘beauty’ may seem unlikely—and reveals images of beauty, physical and otherwise, that none of us has ever imagined,” said artistic director Robert Falls in a press statement. 

The cast features Stephanie Andrea Barron, Helen Cespedes, Monique Gabriela Curnen, Dan Domingues, Danaya Esperanza, Zoë Sophia Garcia, Marisol Miranda, Yunuen Pardo, Socorro Santiago, Heather Velazquez and Carmen Zilles.

Performances run through Feb. 21 in the Albert Theatre. Tickets can be purchased by visiting GoodmanTheatre.org, by phone at (312) 443-3800 or at the box office, located at 170 North Dearborn, Chicago. 

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