Northeast Times

Feliz Navidad!

Walk­ing Fish Theat­er is present­ing Un Viaje: A Christ­mas Jour­ney, a cel­eb­ra­tion of Amer­ic­an and Latino cul­tures and hol­i­day tra­di­tions.

Pic­tured left to right: Vic­tor Rodrig­uez, An­s­il Guz­man, James Grib­ling

In the spir­it of the sea­son and as part of their Fam­ily Theat­er Series, B. Someday Pro­duc­tions and the Walk­ing Fish Theat­er are present­ing Un Viaje: A Christ­mas Jour­ney, a cel­eb­ra­tion of Amer­ic­an and Latino cul­tures and hol­i­day tra­di­tions that fea­tures pro­fes­sion­al bi­lin­gual act­ors and loc­al tal­ent.

The show re­volves around the un viaje, or jour­ney, of a newly di­vorced moth­er, Mar­isa, and her two chil­dren, Lucy and Kais­er. Mar­isa, played by An­joli San­ti­ago, feels guilty about fail­ing to rais­ing her chil­dren ac­cord­ing to Latino tra­di­tion and de­cides to take them to her home coun­try in Lat­in Amer­ica to cel­eb­rate the hol­i­days a little bit dif­fer­ently with their abuela (grand­moth­er).

Lucy and Kais­er are shocked to learn that, in­stead of cel­eb­rat­ing Christ­mas, their abuela, played by a male act­or and vo­cal­ist, Vic­tor Rodrig­uez, re­cog­nizes Three Kings Day as the reign­ing hol­i­day this time of year.

Cel­eb­rated every year on Jan. 6, Three Kings Day is a pop­u­lar hol­i­day in Lat­in Amer­ica that com­mem­or­ates the three kings who, ac­cord­ing to bib­lic­al tra­di­tion, brought presents to baby Je­sus after his birth. As part of tra­di­tion, chil­dren write let­ters to the three kings to ask for presents.

As abuela tells the story of the three kings to the chil­dren in Span­ish, Mar­isa trans­lates her words in­to Eng­lish for their un­der­stand­ing.

“There are dif­fer­ences, cer­tainly,” Michelle Pauls, Un Viaje dir­ect­or, said of the two hol­i­days. “But they be­gin to see that they are more alike than they think they are.”

The show opens Fri­day, Dec. 9, and con­tin­ues through Dec. 30 at the Walk­ing Fish Theat­er, 2509 Frank­ford Ave., in Kens­ing­ton.

Pauls, who also is man­aging artist­ic dir­ect­or of B. Someday Pro­duc­tions, co-wrote the show with San­ti­ago and Rodrig­uez, and she sees Un Viaje as a way to bring to­geth­er the di­verse com­munity around her.

“The neigh­bor­hood and the ma­jor­ity of the stu­dents that we work with in our edu­ca­tion­al out­reach pro­grams are Latino, so I think that it’s our re­spons­ib­il­ity as artists who live in this com­munity to reach out like this,” she said.

Through this show, Pauls is reach­ing out to the com­munity in more ways than one. The young act­ors cast as Mar­isa’s chil­dren also are hand­picked by Pauls from the neigh­bor­hood. She be­lieves that the young per­formers will learn from the more-seasoned act­ors by work­ing along­side them in a pro­fes­sion­al pro­duc­tion.

An­s­il Guz­man, 16, who plays Lucy, is a high school ju­ni­or at Mari­ana Bracetti Academy. She was se­lec­ted for the role after stand­ing out as a stu­dent in Walk­ing Fish Theat­er’s Act­ing Class for Teens, and as an act­or in the Bar­ry­more award-win­ning edu­ca­tion­al out­reach pro­gram, Of Myth­ic Pro­por­tions.

James Grib­ling, 10, who plays Kais­er, was offered the role after tak­ing classes at Walk­ing Fish Theat­er with an act­ing schol­ar­ship fun­ded by Circle of Hope. In ad­di­tion to be­ing a rising star, he’s a fifth-grader at Hack­ett Ele­ment­ary School.

“Kids who come to see the show will see the young per­formers, and my hope is that some of them will be in­spired to do the same thing or maybe something else that they’re in­ter­ested in,” said Pauls.

Fam­ily mem­bers of all ages are en­cour­aged to at­tend the show, which re­lies on plenty of audi­ence par­ti­cip­a­tion and in­ter­ac­tion, in­clud­ing sing-alongs of tra­di­tion­al Amer­ic­an hol­i­day songs and even a few in Span­ish — a great way, Pauls be­lieves, to bring people to­geth­er.

“To me,” she said, “theat­er and singing in a group are very com­mun­al.”

Above all, Pauls strives to use Un Viaje: A Christ­mas Jour­ney to con­vey a mes­sage of in­spir­a­tion and hope dur­ing the sea­son of giv­ing, des­pite dif­fer­ences that ex­ist.

“What we’ve dis­covered,” Pauls ex­plained, “is that we are build­ing a bridge between cul­tures, a bridge between tra­di­tions and even in­tergen­er­a­tion­al re­la­tion­ships.” ••

Tick­ets for the pro­duc­tion are $12 for adults and $6 for chil­dren; on Wed­nes­days, Walk­ing Fish Theat­er hosts pay-what-you-can ad­mis­sion. For the per­form­ance sched­ule, vis­it the B. Someday Pro­duc­tions Web site at www.bsomeday.org

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