‘We finally succeeded in making the Great White Way a little less white,” said Jujamcyn’s Jack Viertel as the company renamed a theater for August Wilson on a recent weekend. Any effort to make Broadway less a province of rich old white folks deserves applause; Jujamcyn’s is more laudable than most.
A few blocks away, Latinologues is taking another shot at the problem. Rick Najera has written a series of skits and monologues about Latino life in America. Subjects include the Cuban tendency to exaggerate, the Dominican fondness for baseball, and the Latino-wide inability to show up on time. Not always fresh, this material, but the actors find their laughs. Eugenio Derbez’s Mexican Moses sketch proves especially sharp, thanks be to God (who’s voiced by director Cheech Marin).
Still, the show, like Def Poetry Jam before it, left me wishing Broadway could attract an audience this broad and energetic with actual, you know, plays. At least Najera’s show sounds lively. Having barely kept up with rock, and making no headway at all with hip-hop, Broadway has suddenly, improbably become a place where you can hear reggaeton on a nightly basis. Viva la revolución.
By Rick Najera
At the Helen Hayes Theatre