‘Evangeline’ sheds light on ’68 anti-war movement


...AND POSE! – Catherine Lidstone (Evangeline), Georgia Reed (Sandy), Denisse Schwarts and Gina Gomez (dancers) strike a pose as their performance ends. Courtesy of Theresa Chavez

 

By Edward Hernandez

All the seats were filled at the Bootleg Theater for Saturday’s opening night of ‘Evangeline, the Queen of Make-Believe.’ The room was quickly filled with excitement and curiosity all around.

Set in East L.A., during the early days of 1968, the story revolves around the family difficulties during the draft, as well as the school walkouts and the start of a new anti-war movement. ‘Evangeline, the Queen of Make-Believe,” was created by Theresa Chavez, Louie Perez, and Rose Portillo. Chavez and Portillo directed the show.

The show begins with singer CAVA (Claudia Gonzalez-Tenorio) narrating Evangeline Ibarra’s life. Played by the beautiful Catherine Lidstone, Evangeline has to support both her mother Alicia and brother Ramon; portrayed by Danielle Barbosa and Jorge Diaz, after having lost their father due to a heart attack.

As Evangeline helps Ramon and her mother get ready for the day, she speaks about how she would love to support her family by working, but her mother doesn’t approve of the idea much.  Once they are gone, Evangeline begins to clean up the living room and listens to music. Realizing that she is now alone, Evangeline begins to dance. As she dances with joy throughout the room, Evangeline is saddened when she stops in front of her father’s memorial.

Throughout the story Evangeline spends most of her time with her cousin Rita (Karen Anzoategui). As the two interact, Evangeline talks about dancing and freedom, while Rita’s character cracks jokes and talks about her boyfriend in the war.

Evangeline eventually makes some time for herself and begins to dance at Club Universe on The Sunset Strip. She eventually befriends a dancer named Sandy (Georgia Reed), who offers her a job at the club. The two go to an art walk where they run into a man named James (Daniel Chacon).  “Evangeline, The Queen of Make-Believe” made its personality very early, with characters like Rita, Ramon, and Edgar, the audience was left laughing throughout the performance.

Kudos to the set and lighting designer’s for making the stage feel so alive. The set was very fun, colorful, and quirky to look at. All the decorations fit the mood perfectly, from the vinyl player to the small television. Everything gave a 60s vibe. The video effects were used well, by being projected from the back. The character’s expressions showed much deeper feelings and scene changes moved seamlessly.  The costume designer helped the show by giving the characters there own identity. Clothing looked so natural, from the yellow sturdy Norm’s outfit to the causally dressed people from the 60s.

The play also did something quite unique musically, with the help of The Neighborhood Band and singer CAVA. There was a live performance in the background. The music score had many of the audience clapping their hands, and moving to the music.  Lidstone deserves much credit for her role, as she interacted with all the other actors seamlessly, as if they have all been family and friends.

The play will run through May 27. Tickets are being sold for $32 and reservations can be made for group seating. Additional information can be found at www.bootlegtheater.org

 

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