• Meet the Cast: "The Canadians"

    Tania Thompson
     | Sep 09, 2019
    The Cast of The Canadians

    THE CAST: Linda Gehringer, Corey Brill, Kyle T. Hester, Daniel Chung and Corey Dorris.

    To bring to life Adam Bock’s new comedy, The Canadians, the five cast members wear a lot of different hats. Literally. They portray more than 15 different characters and go through more than 40 costume changes during the show.

    ​​This hilarious romp from the Great White North to the Caribbean follows Canadian Gordy, who's more interested in The Magic ​Flute and pottery classes than he is in Thursday night hockey​ and beers in Winnipeg. ​When he embarks on an all-expenses paid gay cruise with his pal, Brendan, and a shipload of memorable characters, it's possible that small chances could lead to big changes if Gordy can step out of his comfort zone.

    To a person, the cast members love how award-winning Bock writes—colorful, funny, details and moments, true to life. Read below as the​ actors talk about The Canadians, the playwright and whether they could find a line from the Canadian national anthem, “O, Canada,” to use in everyday conversation.


    Corey Brill
    I portray
    Bobby, Trish, Andy, a White Rabbit and ​a Man on Deck Nine.
    My SCR credits include
    Shakespeare in Love, Office Hour, Of Good Stock, Five Mile Lake, Smokefall and Pride and Prejudice.
    My other credits include
    The Best Man and Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (Broadway), Cabaret (national tour); performances at numerous theatres including The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Antaeus Theatre Company, The Old Globe, Hartford Stage and Williamstown Theatre Festival; and “The Walking Dead,” “Chicago P.D.,” “CSI: Miami” and The Normal Heart (HBO).
    Things in this play that make me laugh
    are the consonants. But also the vowels. No, seriously: try saying “F**king work instead of hockey? J***s Murphy” a few times and see if you don’t smile at the musicality of the experience.
    What I love about Adam’s [Bock] writing
    are the moments when his characters passionately discuss the small, but important, details of their lives. There’s something about these exchanges that feels very true-to-life—and, while they seem tiny, they add up to something much larger.
    I’ve never been on a cruise,
    but I was a canoe guide in Ontario for two summers in my youth—that must count for something in this world. In fact, I think my first beer was a Molson. Ah, the memories!
    Would I use a phrase from “O, Canada” in conversation?
    Hmmm. With all those references to defending the True North and standing guard, I guess I’d wait for “Game of Thrones” to come up as a topic!
    I don’t have a favorite cruise ship drink,
    but I’d love to research this!


    Daniel Chung
    I portray
    This is my SCR
    debut, although I was in the NewSCRipts and Pacific Playwrights Festival readings of The Canadians.
    My other credits
    include Office Hour at Berkeley Repertory Theatre and Long Wharf Theatre.
    There’s always something new and different that makes me laugh about this play.
    Whether in Manitoba or on the cruise ship, the characters, if related or not, feel like they’re in a family; and these family members have a particular earnestness that just makes me laugh; it's even funnier because family is always funny.
    What I love about Adam’s [Bock] writing
    is that it’s an actor’s ideal playground. Ostensibly, the writing may seem simple at times, but we have found that there is so much to unearth for each character. I've truly enjoyed that exploration of these characters' lives.
    I haven’t been on a cruise ship,
    but I’ve been on a much smaller vessel. My favorite memory is lying under the sun, enjoying a beautiful breeze and viewing the blue, blue water.
    I’ll rephrase a line from “O, Canada”
    so it reads “From far and wide, O Ketchup Chips, we stand on guard for thee.”


    Corey Dorris
    I portray
    Beth, Little Harry, Wally and ​a Man on Deck Nine.
    This is my SCR debut, although I was in a reading at the 2019 Pacific Playwrights Festival for Melissa Ross's Unlikable Heroine.
    My other credits include Dutch Masters (Rogue Machine Theatre); Trail to Oregon (off-Broadway); The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals; “Futureman,” “The Grinder” and “Stuck in the Middle.”
    The characters in the play make me laugh because they’re funny and they take up a lot of space—unabashedly so. Seeing them interact with each other, and especially the characters who don't take up as much space, is really fun.
    Adam writes the characters to have the potential to be extremely big, but he sprinkles in moments where they show us who they really are, deep down, and why they care. Those are gifts to us as actors because not only is it a challenge, where we get to play both sides, but it also helps us easily add dimension to the characters.
    I recently went on a party cruise for a few hours. I remember another cruise ship passed by ours and there was a black tie affair happening on board. I could see every single person on the other cruise ship stop what they were doing to look at us, with jaws dropped. I'm not sure what we were doing that was so interesting, but I hope to bring some of that to the play!
    Now, about a favorite cruise ship drink, those sound expensive. Can I sneak my own on board?!


    Linda Gehringer
    I portray
    Johnny, Mayor Claudette, Oliver, Indian Princess and a Man on Deck Nine.
    My SCR credits include 21 productions! Most recently The Roommate, Going to a Place where you Already Are and How to Write a New Book for the Bible.
    My other credits include Lady in Denmark (Goodman Theatre); Vicuña (Kirk Douglas Theatre); Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Surf Report; The Women; “S.W.A.T.,” “Fear the Walking Dead,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Justified,” “The West Wing” and Into the Storm.
    What makes me laugh about this play is the fact that it’s so unique and original and surprising. This is comedy with heart and meaning—my favorite!
    I love Adam’s [Bock] writing because it is lean and so, so colorful. He creates a whole, beautiful world with very little.
    I have never been on a real cruise, but I have been out on a whale​-watching boat. We were sailing in huge waves and my whole family, including grandkids, ran to the front of the boat. I stayed back and prayed they would live (!) and they DID!!!
    How would I use a line from “O, Canada”? I think it would be “With glowing hearts we see thee rise, and hope The Canadians will rise with thee”!
    While I don’t really like fruity drinks that seem to be served on cruises, I do love how beautiful those drinks are. So, if I had to choose one, I’d pick a drink that had the most color!

    Kyle T. Hester
    I portray
    This is my SCR debut, although I was in the 2019 Pacific Playwrights Festival reading of The Canadians—as Gordy!
    My other credits include Wild Goose Dreams, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, King Lear, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and Death and Cockroaches.
    The deep investments in little moments in this play make me laugh. Like Brendan warning me, Gordy, not to use my cell phone in international waters—as though my life were in danger. Or Johnny and Bobby announcing the arrival of Nadine, with wild, ferocious relief. Even Wally losing his actual mind when he realizes there’s a shrimp bar at the party.
    What do I like most about how Adam [Bock] writes? Aside from the fact that he’s just plain hilarious? Adam knows how to create layers:  little words like "Huh" or "Okay" become miniature worlds of meaning that express a huge range of contradictory and immensely human emotions. A simple everyday phrase that we might have heard earlier in the play, without really taking note of it, is suddenly imbued with some new, beautiful meaning the second time we encounter it. Pain and joy push up against each other in really satisfying and unexpected ways, and there's always something new to discover the longer and deeper you look.
    How would I use a phrase from “O, Canada” in general conversation? Well, if I was at the gym and I saw a particularly beautiful man doing squats, I might murmur to myself, “O, Canada!” in a lusty whisper.
    I don’t have a favorite cruise ship memory because, unfortunately, I’ve never been on a cruise ship. Can you tell from my performance?!!
    But, with regard to cruise ship drinks, I would ensure that, no matter what time of day it was, I would constantly have a margarita in one hand and a piña colada in the other. ​This is why it's probably good I've never been on a cruise ship!

    Learn more about The Canadians and buy tickets.

  • Summer Vacation Update: Conservatory Instructor Emily Heebner

    Beth Fhaner
     | Sep 06, 2019

    ​Emily Heebner

    Adult Conservatory faculty member Emily Heebner, who teaches acting classes (Acts I, II and III) and had her young adult novel, Seneca Lake published by The Wild Rose Press over the summer. Her book is available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble.

    “It was inspired by my mother’s youth,” Emily says. “She’d grown up in the rural Finger Lakes region of New York during WWII, but my father’s career took her far away from ‘home’ for many years. Eventually they found their way back to upstate NY, near her siblings and their extended families once again. My story is inspired by my mother’s deep connection to home, family and the natural beauty of that region. My mother died at age 59. Writing Seneca Lake was a way for me to spend time with her in my imagination.”

    About Seneca Lake: It’s 1944, and high school senior Meg Michaels has always obeyed her grandparents’ wishes, till now. They’re urging her to give up her dream of Cornell University and accept a ring from wealthy Hank Wickham before he deploys overseas. But Meg has studied hard and yearns for something better than life in the rural Finger Lakes. Plus, Meg’s suddenly fascinated with her childhood friend, Arthur Young, a handsome Seneca Indian farm worker. When Meg and Arthur nurse a sick puppy to health, their friendship transforms into love. But locals look down on “injuns” and resent the fact that Arthur’s farm job exempts him from military duty. While the war rages in Europe, Meg and Arthur must fight their own battles at home…

    About Emily Heebner

    Emily Heebner is a longtime SCR Theatre Conservatory member, writer and actor. She also teaches acting in Chapman University’s Theatre Department.

    Soon after receiving her Equity card at SCR in The Diviners, Heebner became a Broadway stand-by for Noises Off, then played Brooke on that show's first national tour with Carole Shelley. She has worked at other theatre companies including Berkeley Repertory, Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Huntington, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Virginia Stage, Arizona Theatre Company and seven seasons at A Noise Within. She’s appeared on television in “The Equalizer,” “Picket Fences,” “Chicago Hope” and numerous commercials. In recent years, she has enjoyed directing productions of Our Town, The Diviners, Eleemosynary and A Wilde Holiday. And, of course, she loves teaching and coaching actors!

    After graduating from Cornell University as an English major, Heebner earned an MFA in acting at American Conservatory Theatre. Later she returned to school to earn an MA in English at CSUN, focusing on creative writing. While publishing essays and articles (The Christian Science Monitor, The Binnacle), she wrote her young adult novel, Seneca Lake. (emilyheebner.com)

    Learn more about SCR’s Adult Conservatory classes.

  • Summer Vacation Update: Conservatory Instructor Greg Atkins

    Beth Fhaner
     | Aug 30, 2019
    Greg Atkins
    Improv teacher, Greg Atkins (right), work with students.

    Conservatory instructor Greg Atkins will be teaching two improvisation classes in South Coast Repertory's Theatre Conservatory in the fall​—starting Sept. 24​ and Sept. 25, 2019—which continues his more than three-decade relationship with the theatre.

    Over the summer, he ​saw three of his 10-minute plays produced, in addition to his full-length play, Cadaver Dogs, published by Heuer Publishing.

    Atkins says, “In my improv classes at SCR, I talk about how improvisation helps us to develop spontaneous storytelling, which, in turn, helps us as playwrights. I felt the 10-minute play format was perfect for that style of writing.”

    Here’s a round-up of ​recent accolades, honors and more for his short plays:  

    • Winners, 8 Tens @ 8 Festival at the Actor’s Theater of Santa Cruz, Calif. – The Exchange for their 2018 Season and Tempus Fugit for their 2019 Season.
    • Stage It! 10-Minute Play Competition, Bonita Springs, Fla. – April 23-28, 2019 – Tempus Fugit and Bunnies. Published in Stage It! 3 – Twenty 10-Minute Plays anthology.
    • Playzapalooza! at the Santa Paula Theater Center (Santa Paula, Calif.) produced Tempus Fugit and Bunnies from May 24 – June 9, 2019.
    • 22nd Annual One-Act Festival – Ten Below, Fine Arts Association, Willoughby, Ohio – The Exchange
    • OC-Centric, Orange County’s New Play Festival, 2019 – Tempus Fugit is one of the 5 finalists for their New Play Festival.

    About Cadaver Dogs In San Bernardino, Calif., 1983, police dog trainer Amanda Esposito returns home from searching for disaster victims in Mexico and, still reeling from her trip, encounters Wade, a semi-famous author of murder mysteries desperately seeking her help to find his missing wife. Add to the mix a scheming sister, a jealous Sheriff and a tequila-fueled night of drinking, and it quickly becomes apparent that nothing is what it seems, passions are reignited, family secrets are revealed and murder is on everyone’s mind.

    About Greg Atkins

    ​He has written and/or created shows for DreamWorks Studios, Buena Vista, Sony, Fox, Universal Studios, Sea World, the Torch Ceremonies for the Atlanta and Salt Lake City Olympics, Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon, the Walt Disney Co., numerous corporate clients and was a consultant on “Whose Line is it Anyway.” His book IMPROV! is in its 19th printing and his many published plays are produced around the world (see samuelfrench.com, bakersplays.com and hitplays.com). As a director/performer, Atkins travels with an international team of improv actors to exotic locales such as Prague, Singapore, New Delhi and Irvine. Atkins has worked at South Coast Repertory as a playwright, director, actor or teacher for more than 30 years. Find out more on Greg’s work.

    Learn more about SCR’s Adult Conservatory classes.

  • An Expanded Talkback Schedule for 2019-20

    SCR Staff
     | Aug 27, 2019
    Photograph 51 talkback

    The cast of the 2019 production of Photograph 51 during a post-show talk

    We've got an expanded schedule of thoughtful and lively conversations and talkbacks during the 2019-20 season, the first season programmed by Artistic Director David Ivers. The added events are designed to help give ​playgoers an even better experience at the theatre.

    “I’m excited to be visible to our audiences and engage with our patrons around our productions,” sa​ys Ivers​. “I look forward to vibrant discussions about the work on our stages and the road ahead for SCR.”

    The main productions on the Segerstrom and Julianne Argyros stages will have at least ​4 post-show discussions, including a series of artistic director talkbacks, along with Saturday morning seminars called Inside the Season. There will be a special talkback for A Christmas Carol, which marks its 40th anniversary this year.

    “We’re eager for the community and the artists who create SCR’s plays to come together for a two-way dialogue about the work and how it impacts us all​,” adds Managing Director Paula Tomei.

    American Mariachi LogoAmerican Mariachi
    by José Cruz González
    Sept. 7-Oct. 5, 2019
    This show has additional special features including local mariachi bands performing pre-show music for some of the performances. See this play's full schedule online.

    Design Talk: American Mariachi
    Sunday, Sept. 8
    , approximately 8:45 p.m. (shortly after the performance). A brief, moderated conversation with Artistic Director David Ivers and American Mariachi’s design team. A Q&A follows. Free and open to the public; no admission needed for this post-show talk.

    Pre-show Talk: Mariachi Instrumentation
    Wednesday, Sept. 11
    , at 6:30 p.m. The sound of mariachi is iconic—but what does it take to make that music? American Mariachi music director Cynthia Reifler Flores, an accomplished mariachi, will share the intricacies of mariachi instrumentation. This pre-show event is free and open to the public.

    Pre-show Talk: Breaking Barriers: Women in Mariachi
    Tuesday, Sept. 17
    , at 6:30 p.m. Join mariachi pioneers Cynthia Reifler Flores and Catherine Marín Baeza to learn about the history of women in mariachi—and to hear their own stories about breaking barriers in a traditionally male art form. Flores is also music director for American Mariachi. This pre-show event is free and open to the public.

    Post-Show Talkback: The Cast of American Mariachi
    Wednesday, Sept. 18, approximately 9:15 p.m. (shortly after the performance). Cast members will talk about the show with members of the Literary Department and the audience. Free and open to the public; no admission needed for the talkback.

    Post-show Talkback: Music and Memory
    Thursday, Sept. 19,
    approximately 9:15 p.m. (shortly after the performance).  Anne Grey, executive director of the Orange County Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, leads a discussion about music as a care giving tool for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Free and open to the public; no admission needed for the talkback.

    Inside the Season: American Mariachi
    Saturday, Sept. 21, at 10:30 a.m. This two-hour program features guests from the show—including cast and members of the creative team. Dig deeper into the play, the story and its design. Tickets are $12 in advance or at the door.

    Post-Show Talkback: The Cast of American Mariachi
    Tuesday, Sept. 24,
    approximately 9:15 p.m. (shortly after the performance). Cast members will talk about the show with members of the Literary Department and the audience. Free and open to the public; no admission needed for the talk back.

    Post-Show Talkback With the Artistic Director
    Thursday, Sept. 26,
    approximately 9:15 p.m. (shortly after the performance). Artistic Director David Ivers joins the audience for a fun and fluid chat about American Mariachi or other topics of interest. Free and open to the public; no admission needed for the talkback.

    300x300TheCanadiansThe Canadians
    by Adam Bock (world premiere)
    Sept. 29-Oct. 20, 2019
    directed by Jaime Castañeda

    Design Talk: The Canadians, Tuesday, Oct. 1.
    Post-Show Talkback: The Cast of The Canadians, Tuesday, Oct. 8.
    Post-Show Talkback: The Cast of The Canadians , Wednesday, Oct. 9.
    Inside the Season: The Canadians, Saturday, Oct. 12, at 10:30 a.m.
    Post-Show Talkback With the Artistic Director, Thursday, Oct. 17.

    by Julia Cho
    Oct. 19-Nov. 16, 2019
    directed by Lisa Peterson

    Design Talk: Aubergine, Sunday, Oct. 20.
    Post-Show Talkback: The Cast of Aubergine, Wednesday, Oct. 30.
    Inside the Season: Aubergine, Saturday, Nov. 2, at 10:30 a.m.
    Post-Show Talkback: The Cast of Aubergine, Tuesday, Nov. 5.
    Post-Show Talkback With the Artistic Director, Thursday, Nov. 7.

    300x300ACCA Christmas Carol
    by Charles Dickens
    adapted by Jerry Patch
    Nov. 30-Dec. 24, 2019
    40th Anniversary Production
    directed by John-David Keller

    Post-Show Talkback With the Artistic Director, Thursday, Dec. 12.

    by Donja R. Love
    Jan. 5-26, 2020
    directed by Lou Bellamy

    Design Talk: Fireflies, Tuesday, Jan. 7.
    Post-Show Talkback: The Cast of Fireflies, Tuesday, Jan. 14.
    Post-Show Talkback: The Cast of Fireflies, Wednesday, Jan. 15.
    Inside the Season: Fireflies, Saturday, Jan. 18, at 10:30 a.m.
    Post-Show Talkback With the Artistic Director, Thursday, Jan. 23.

    300x300SheLovesMeShe Loves Me
    by Joe Masteroff (book), Jerry Bock (music) and Sheldon Harnick (lyrics)
    Jan. 25-Feb. 22, 2020
    directed by David Ivers

    Design Talk: She Loves Me, Sunday, Sunday, Jan. 26.
    Post-Show Talkback: The Cast of She Loves Me, Wednesday, Feb. 5.
    Inside the Season: She Loves Me, Saturday, Feb. 8, at 10:30 a.m.
    Post-Show Talkback: The Cast of She Loves Me, Tuesday, Feb. 11.
    Post-Show Talkback With the Artistic Director, Thursday, Feb. 13.

    300x300OutsideMullingarOutside Mullingar
    by John Patrick Shanley
    March 8-29, 2020
    directed by Martin Benson

    Design Talk: Outside Mullingar, Tuesday, March 10.
    Post-Show Talkback: The Cast of Outside Mullingar, Tuesday, March 17.
    Post-Show Talkback: The Cast of Outside Mullingar, Wednesday, March 18.
    Post-Show Talkback With the Artistic Director, Thursday, March 19.
    Inside the Season: Outside Mullingar, Saturday, March 21, at 10:30 a.m.

    300x300ScarletLetterThe Scarlet Letter
    by Kate Hamill (world premiere)
    Part of the Pacific Playwrights Festival
    March 28-April 25, 2020
    directed by Marti Lyons

    Design Talk: The Scarlet Letter, Sunday, March 29.
    Post-Show Talkback: The Cast of The Scarlet Letter, Wednesday, April 8.
    Inside the Season: The Scarlet Letter, Saturday, April 11, at 10:30 a.m.
    Post-Show Talkback: The Cast of The Scarlet Letter, Tuesday, April 14.
    Post-Show Talkback With the Artistic Director, Thursday, April 16.

    300x300GetRestlessI Get Restless
    by Caroline V. McGraw (world premiere)
    Part of the Pacific Playwrights Festival
    April 12-May 3, 2020
    directed by Tony Taccone

    Design Talk: I Get Restless, Tuesday, April 14.
    Post-Show Talkback: The Cast of I Get Restless, Tuesday, April 21.
    Post-Show Talkback: The Cast of I Get Restless, Wednesday, April 22.
    Post-Show Talkback With the Artistic Director, Thursday, April 23.
    Inside the Season: I Get Restless, Saturday, May 2, at 10:30 a.m.

    by Tom Stoppard
    May 9-June 6, 2020
    directed by Shelley Butler

    Design Talk: Arcadia, Sunday, May 10.
    Post-Show Talkback: The Cast of Arcadia, Wednesday, May 20.
    Inside the Season: Arcadia, Saturday, May 23, at 10:30 a.m.
    Post-Show Talkback: The Cast of Arcadia, Tuesday, May 26.
    Post-Show Talkback With the Artistic Director, Thursday, May 28.

  • Meet the Cast of "American Mariachi"

    Tania Thompson
     | Aug 27, 2019
    The Cast of American Mariachi
    THE CAST (clockwise from top left): Sol Castillo, Andrew Joseph Perez, Sayra Michelle Haro, Diana Burbano, Mauricio Mendoza, Luzma Ortiz, Satya Jnani Chavez, Gabriela Carrillo, Alicia Coca and Marlene Montes. Not pictured: Esteban Montoya Dagnino, Antonio A. Pró, Ali Pizarro and Adam Ramirez.

    To bring to life the 1970s mariachi-infused world of José Cruz González’s big-hearted comedy, American Mariachi, nine actors plus five musicians are hard at work in rehearsals. In addition to learning the script, the actors are learning to play, or deepening their skills playing instruments and the mariachi musicians are learning to be actors. They are all madly in love with this story about dreaming big, empowerment, family, love and discovering the transcendent power of music. Read on to meet the cast.


    Diana Burbano
    I portray
    Amalia Morales and Doña Lola (I also portrayed these characters in the recent Arizona Theatre Company production).
    My SCR credits include
    Imagine and The Long Road Today/El Largo Camino de Hoy.
    Among the plays I’ve written are Ghosts of Bogota, Policarpa, Fabulous Monsters, Caliban’s Island and Linda.
    American Mariachi speaks to me because of the glory of having 14 Latinx performers on stage! Often, in theatre, we are “the only one,” so it’s wonderful to be working with this fierce and talented group.
    I’m most delighted by losing myself in the music, much like my character does; plus, being able to sing with a mariachi group is a dream come true. There is nothing like singing with live musicians.
    The opportunity ​for me being in this show is having kids see me onstage and think, ‘Hey, she reminds me of my mom. My mom’s story is important, too.​' To see your own people onstage is an emotional necessity.
    My favorite song is David Bowie’s Heroes. The first time I heard it, I was walking past a record store in Haight Ashbury in San Francisco. The song was playing and I was compelled to stop. I felt my entire life shift in that one moment: that voice, that yearning. I felt like he understood who I needed to be.


    Gabriela Carrillo
    I portray
    Lucha Morales.
    This is my SCR debut.
    My other credits include The Prince of Egypt, Chess and UMPO: A League of Their Own. I’m also a songwriter and original music artist.
    I’m absolutely thrilled to be playing violin again. It was my first instrument; I first began lessons at age 3, but, as my ​interests branched out and other priorities beckoned, I played less and less as an adult. The fact that I get to reconnect with the instrument in the context of expressing pride for my culture and telling a story that is dear to my heart is so special. But, playing violin again for an audience is certainly bringing out my perfectionist streak! It’s been fun to embrace that feeling of shaking off the dust.
    American Mariachi speaks to me because I am a first-generation Mexican-American; my father is ​from M​exico City and moved here when he was 11. The Mexican-American experience is a unique one and it feels special to share this story of a first-generation child of immigrants finding herself in a world where she may feel torn between two cultures. The struggle between female empowerment and Latino machismo that often goes unquestioned or unopposed is something I can certainly identify with as a young Latina in the 21st century. My character, Lucha, has a deep connection to her family and culture through the vessel of music and that’s another thing I deeply resonate with. No important gathering of Latinos is complete without the appropriate music and, as such, music becomes a potent memory trigger. The specific genre of music that is important to each family may differ, but the experience is the same.
    My favorite song is La Vida Es Un Carnaval by Celia Cruz. She was always my favorite artist and we played that song in my household. I have countless memories of learning to dance with my father to that song and now, as an adult, the lyrics mean so much to me. I listen to it whenever I miss home, need to cheer up or feel encouraged. This is a great line from the song: “No, there’s no need to cry/life is a carnival/it’s more beautiful to live it singing.”


    Sol Castillo
    I portray
    Mino Avila and Padres Flores.
    My SCR credits include A Christmas Carol (Fred), The Night Fairy, The Hollow Lands and La Posada Mágica.
    My other credits include American Mariachi (Arizona Theatre Company), Veteranos: A Legacy of Valor (national tour), Zoot Suit, Quixote Nuevo, The Realm of the Maya, Sunsets and Margaritas and Of Mice and Men.
    American Mariachi speaks to me because it’s the story of a family's love. There are so many elements to a family history and great friendships that are like family are ingrained in this show. The story isn't just an American-Mexican story, but a totally American story. Full of love and joy of family and the music made together.
    I’ve had so much fun working on the music. Mariachi music has been a part of my own family’s history. Some of my family came from Jalisco, where mariachi was born. I listened to it as a child, and as I grew and now I get to play it because of this show. I've met so many great musicians who have helped me to learn the songs, as my character, Mino, says, "The proper way."
    Of course there are some challenges. This role is one of the first where I haven't played a kid, or a teenager; I portray a man who was married, suffered great losses, is a teacher and a professional musician. I am able to use my own life experiences in this show. Plus, I get to learn how to play mariachi music. Three years ago, I did a workshop for this play in Denver and I fell in love with the vihuela, the instrument I play in the show. I own one now and I play just about every day.
    Do I have a favorite song? That’s a tough one. There are so many songs to choose from in so many genres. I am a fan of music—all kinds. I've often said that it's a big world with so many beautiful sounds, why limit my ears to just one path? So I have so many favorite genres of music and am finding more. But, since we're talking about mariachi, I would have to say, anything by Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán or Javier Solis. Sorry. That doesn't narrow it down, does it?!


    Satya Jnani Chavez
    I portray
    Hortensia “Boli” Perez.
    This is my SCR debut.
    My other credits include American Mariachi (Arizona Theatre Company), Life on Paper, Othello, Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, Jesus Christ Superstar, A Christmas Carol, New Faces, You Across From Me, Soul of the World and The Happiest Song Plays Last.
    American Mariachi speaks to me because the representation is so profound and so necessary. It manages to tell a very universal story while opening up conversations about mental illness, what it means to be Mexican-American in the U.S., and the mere fact that Latinas exist in all shapes and sizes and have varying experiences that define who they are—we aren’t all stereotypical “sexy, spicy, spitfires.” We’re also representing body diversity, gender expression, the LGBTQ community, mariachi music and the iconic Dolores Huerta.
    What I love most about working on this show are the people. Every single person I have met related to this show has not only been fiercely talented but also fiercely generous. The musicians help the actors master their instruments, and the actors help the musicians feel comfortable acting on stage. From director to designer to stage manager to fellow actor, these people show so much generosity: with their time, energy, patience, talent, joy, words of affirmation, vulnerability, car rides, chisme, gritos, nonstop live mariachi music, trips to In-N-Out, sharing pan dulces and endless guidance. Being at the receiving end of so much generosity reminds me just how valuable and necessary it is to always extend a hand back when you are being pulled forward.
    But it’s hard work. Mariachi. Music. Is. So. Challenging. Rhythms and strum patterns can change in the middle of phrases, which is super-hard to wrap your brain around at first. And I never would have understood the intricacies rooted in this music’s tradition without our music director, Cynthia Reifler Flores. This experience is constantly teaching me about the history of my culture and, for me, that knowledge is truly invaluable. Also, to be completely transparent, there isn’t enough LatinX work being produced in our industry. And to be a part of this show, at an institution as prestigious as South Coast Repertory, is a massive opportunity to prove just how capable, ready and hungry we are to share our stories. I hope it inspires theatres across the world to invest in our communities.
    My anthem is Bilingue by Snow Tha Product. This song is about embracing being Mexican and American and celebrating how badass it is to have dual identities, while giving a million shout-outs to how amazing Mexican food is. And, on top of all of that, it has the sickest beat. Snow sings so effortlessly and confidently and she puts words to all of the complex feelings I’ve had about navigating my sense of belonging. At the beginning of the song, she says, “Yo ni soy de aqui ni soy de alla (I’m not from here or there)”, but eventually she says “Yo si soy de aqui y soy de alla (I’m from here and I’m from there).” Just a little reminder that we get to claim it all and that my Mexican-ness is a freaking superpower!


    Alicia Coca
    I portray
    Isabel Campos.
    This is my SCR debut.
    My other credits include American Mariachi (Arizona Theatre Company), Pippin, Heathers The Musical and La Virgen de Guadaloupe: Dios Inantzin.
    American Mariachi is so powerful because it has allowed me to connect with my culture in a way that I never have before. Throughout my life, I heard mariachi music at weddings, funerals and parties. It was the background music to my life and childhood memories. But doing this show and learning to play the music has been such a privilege. It’s ​the kind of music that you didn’t know was sadly missing from your daily life until you’re playing it every day. And, of course, I also have to mention José’s beautifully strong Latina protagonists. The arc of the show highlights women’s empowerment in a way that I’ve never seen before. Our characters—Lucha, Boli, Gabby, Amalia, Soyla and Isabel—show the many different sides of the Latina experience that are not often articulated in theatre. And I can’t wait for people to see these characters unapologetically shine on the stage.
    I was floored hearing the music actually being played live for the first time; that was highly emotional. Early on in rehearsal, when we were still practicing without our professional mariachis, we had to brush over the parts in the show where they enter and play. But finally, hearing the mariachis play live in our rehearsal space sent a wave of emotion and memory over those of us who relate ​these songs to significant moments in our lives. Hearing El Son de la Negra live in rehearsal for the first time brought tears to my eyes ​because I saw myself, at the age of 10, dancing to that song in my baile folklórico class. As José Cruz González reminds us in his brilliant dialogue, “music is memory.”
    It’s humbling ​to learn to play an instrument that you’ve never touched before ​during a 3-week rehearsal period. I had the pleasure of going through the learning process ​with the production of American Mariachi at Arizona Theatre Company and, at that point, I had never touched a trumpet before in my life. Now, at South Coast Repertory, I have experienced the brand new challenge of trying to improve my abilities and fine-tune what I learned previously because I’m not starting from square one this time (Thank God!). I’m so grateful for the opportunity to rediscover my character of Isabel and hopefully make her a better trumpet player this time around!
    One song that’s really meaningful to me is Como La Flor by Selena y Los Dinos. I can attribute my singing style to several artists that I listened to religiously as a child, such as, Aretha Franklin, Alicia Keyes and Selena. This song takes me back to sitting in the backseat of the family car, listening to a Selena album blast through the speakers. Those were the moments where I learned how to sing and develop my own abilities. So, thank you to my parents for putting up with their five-year-old singing her heart out in the backseat!


    Sayra Michelle Haro
    I portray
    Tia Carmen, but I also am a mariachi violinist.
    This is my debut as an actor.
    I love American Mariachi for how it speaks about when being part of a mariachi band used to be something inappropriate for women. Mariachis used to be viewed as drunks and mujeriegos and now we know it to be really something much more elegant.
    I love working with the people here! They are great—these new experiences are amazing and I’ve never been a part of anything quite like this.
    Yes, it’s challenging because this is my first ​time working in a theatre production. I’m looking forward to leaving my comfort zone and being on a stage in a way that’s different from what I usually do as a mariachi violinist.
    A song that I love is Las rejas no matan. It’s meaningful to me because it wasn’t long ago that I was introduced to Javier Solis’s music through someone who has now become a huge part of my life and my best friend. ​Solis has changed my style musically and, in general, has become my favorite mariachi singer.


    Mauricio Mendoza
    I portray
    Federico Morales and Chuy “Pepe” Bravo.
    My other SCR credits include Destiny of Desire and La Posada Mágica.
    My other credits include In the Heights, Into the Woods, Zoot Suit, West Side Story, Man of La Mancha, Evita, Much Ado About Nothing, The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, “Resurrection Blvd.”, “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “The Last Man on Earth,” The Rookie,” “Days of Our Lives,” “NCIS” and Ladrones.
    I love how American Mariachi portrays the relationship between ​the father and daughter and how it stresses the importance of maintaining healthy communication in a familia.
    It’s great to be working again with José Cruz González, whom I’ve known since I was in my 20s. I was part of his rewrite of American Mariachi in 2012 and to see where the play is now is quite amazing. It’s such a pleasure to be part of his journey as a writer.
    The most challenging thing for me was learning to play the guitar—but I’m loving it! My mother and brother both play the guitar, so for me to now play it brings me even closer to their passion. As an artist, I’m always amazed to be part of the history of new works in the theatre; I like that because you can’t be compared to anyone in the part yet because it hasn’t been seen by the masses and that’s exciting to me!
    My favorite song is This is the Moment from Jekyll & Hyde the musical. It’s meaningful to me because it reminds me of how special every new moment is: like my marriage, my child being born ​or the first day of a job. Every challenge in life comes with a growing and wonderful moment. I track my life by these moments: I was born in Davis, Calif., to parents who were from Colombia. We moved to Colombia when I was 3 years old and then returned to Davis when I was 12. After high school, I moved to San Diego and then moved to Los Angeles 25 years ago.


    Marlene Montes
    I portray
    Soyla Reyna and Sister Manuela.
    This is my SCR debut.
    My other credits include American Mariachi (Arizona Theatre Company), In the Heights, Legally Blonde, Gypsy, Cabaret, South Pacific, Tommy, Miss Saigon, The Full Monty, The Marvelous Wonderettes and The Pajama Game.
    American Mariachi resonates with me on so many levels. I saw it at The Old Globe and was in tears realizing that it was the first time I saw a show that told MY story, my family’s story. What deeply resonates with me is women’s journey to find their voice and their struggle to know where they fit in. When I did the show before, the most impactful moments came when people would share their life experiences and how they connected to the characters and their stories.
    It’s personal to me because I grew up with a father who discouraged me ​from speaking Spanish and told me that I was not to refer to myself as a Mexican, but as an American of Hispanic descent. This was frustrating because my mom was born in Mexico and her side of the family primarily spoke Spanish. I never knew where I fit in and I experienced discrimination on both sides as a result. I think that my story is actually many people’s story and that they’ll see themselves represented in American Mariachi.
    I love working with this team of artists and musicians ​who are so wonderfully diverse and multi-talented! It has been an absolute privilege to work with the director Christopher Acebo and with the heartbeat of the show, playwright José Cruz González. Also, having the insight into the mariachi world and instruction from Cindy Reifler Flores, our music director, has been an honor. I love mariachi music. We are working with the best and I couldn’t have dreamt of a better team of people to work with!
    My biggest accomplishment has been learning to play the vihuela and transforming into a mariachi!
    My anthem right now is Lauren Daigle’s song You Say. The song is about identity and a reminder that I am strong, worthy and loved. This song grounds me and reminds me what voice defines me ​and where my strength comes from. In addition, I fell in love with mariachi music after listening to Linda Ronstadt’s album Canciones de mi Padre. I learned to sing in Spanish before I even knew what I was singing. Mariachi music feels like home and deeply moves me.


    Luzma Ortiz
    I portray
    Gabby Orozco.
    My previous SCR credit includes Nate the Great (Theatre for Young Audiences).
    My other credits include American Mariachi (Arizona Theatre Company), Dora the Explorer Live! (national tour), In the Heights, Man of La Mancha, The Goodby Girl, West Side Story, Ragtime and Noises Off.
    American Mariachi speaks to me in a lot of ways. Not only did I grow up in a musical household, like the one in our show, but the topic of music as a source of healing was a common one. My father would come home from playing in homes for seniors, rehabilitation centers or hospitals ​and shares countless stories about how his music-playing ​brought a smile to someone who hadn’t smiled in months or how someone who suffered from memory loss suddenly knew the words to a song he would play. I have personally witnessed this and it’s a beautiful thing.
    The most delight in working on this show is the bonding, and new friendships, that develops from working so closely together. Plus, on this show we had the amazing opportunity to get to work directly with the playwright during the first week of rehearsal. We were able to process the information of the play together and contribute our own thoughts and questions about the journey of each character and relationship in the story. José [Cruz González] would take notes on all of the conversations and then the next day, he came back with new pages that were edited to reflect many of the discoveries that came from our discussions. It was truly amazing to be valued and trusted to be a part of that process with him.
    My biggest challenge on this show is playing my instruments and singing at the same time. HAHA!! I can do both of these things separately, no problem​; but putting them together…that’s a whole other story. This show is letting me check off several boxes for me as an artist: I get to debut and perform at the Segerstrom Stage at SCR, portray a Latina character, share something of the American-Latino experience with audiences and learn to play two instruments and sing! How cool is that?! It really is a gift to get to be a part of this show.
    A song that is part of the soundtrack of my life is Mi Tierra by Gloria Estefan. It holds a lot of happy and beautiful memories for me: when I hear it, I can see my entire family, immediate and extended, together singing and dancing at one of our many family gatherings and parties. I specifically remember dancing to this song at my Quinceañera with all of my Tios, Tias, Primos and Abuelos. We really know how to party!


    Andrew Joseph Perez
    I portray
    Mateo Campos, René, Rubén and Los Muchachos.
    My SCR debut.
    My other credits include In the Heights, Man of La Mancha, Little Shop of Horrors, Romeo and Juliet, Red and Native Gardens.
    So much in this play speaks to and resonates with me. My grandmother's steady decline into dementia over the last handful of years is reflected accurately, beautifully and heartbreakingly in the character of Amalia. I also love the women's resilience in the face of derision to create their all-women mariachi group; it’s a wonderful proxy for so many moments in my life when the people around me looked me in my ​eyes and told me that something I was about to do was impossible. It’s a treat for me to work on a piece that, while being a uniquely Mexican-American story in many regards, is a much more universal story about family to which anyone from anywhere in the world can relate. To get to be a part of that is incredible.
    There’s familiar parts of this play and then there​ are ​challenges for me. Character tracks, like the one I play in this piece, are some of my favorites. But ​to change not only my costume, but my entire character, multiple times, back-to-back-to-back, is a fantastic challenge and one I get great joy from tackling.
    My favorite songs are by Ingrid Michaelson, in particular Maybe and Afterlife. After college, while I was living and working in Sacramento, a group of friends asked me to be their guitarist so they could sing at open mic nights​—Michaleson’s music—along with a bunch of other material. Her stuff was so much fun to play and hit me right in the heart every time. Because of my history with her music—oh, and my crippling phobia of needles—I got to be in her music video for “Afterlife” and facing my fear on camera. It was only after that experience that I finally had the courage to donate blood, which I've now done several times, and I've only passed out once!

    The Mariachis in American Mariachi.
    Esteban Montoya Dagnino
    , trumpet
    Sayra Michelle Haro, violin (She also portrays Tia Camen, see above)
    Antonio A. Pró, guitarrón
    Ali Pizarro, violin
    Adam Ramirez, violin