La Olla Review - A Pot of Gold Transformed

Originally commissioned by the J. Paul Getty Museum and first presented in their Theater Lab series in 2015, “Pot of Gold” has been rejuvenated as LA OLLA by The Latino Theater Company. Playwright Evelina Fernandez takes the comedy and transforms it into a very funny musical of Mexican proportions - with a little vaudeville and telenovela thrown in for good measure. The updated action moves from ancient Rome to 1950's Los Angeles in a Mexican night club called, very appropriately, “La Olla.”

 

Esperanza America and Sam Golzari - Photo by Grettel Cortes

When Euclio (Sal Lopez), an untalented bit player in the club, finds a pot filled with money in a corner of the dressing room, he becomes consumed with greed and thinks that everyone wants his treasure, which isn’t his anyway - but let’s not quibble. Enter his daughter, the very pregnant Phaedria (Esperanza America), who is conscientious, good-hearted, and - sad to say - very plain.

 

Sal Lopez - Photo by Grettel Cortes

Meanwhile, the star of the show - a well-rounded diva who, unfortunately, likes her alcohol a little too much - takes a drunken tumble and can’t be revived in time for her song. There are no likely candidates for her replacement, and somehow Phaedria gets elected to cover for her inebriated compatriot. Pure Hollywood then emerges - and Phaedria turns out to be a talented show-stopper. Suddenly the wealthy night club’s owner Megadorus (Geoffrey Rivas) sees Phaedria as a valuable commodity and decides to marry her - even if he isn’t certain if he prefers a wife or a husband. But Phaedria has her sites set on her reluctant lover/daddy-to-be Lyconides (Sam Golzari). How will this romantic mess work out? What happens to the pot of unearned riches? You’ll have to see LA OLLA to find out.

 

Castulo Guerra - Photo by Grettel Cortes

Acting is broad and uproarious in the tradition of slapstick. Visual comedy abounds, and actors ham it up with vigor and enthusiasm. Pratfalls for left for the three thieving strangers who took the money in the first place. This is a fun night in the theater filled with chuckles and guffaws.

 

Fedel Gomez - Photo by Grettel Cortes

Latino Theater Company Artistic Director Jose Luis Valenzuela ably directs the cast with an eye to timing and laughs. Yee Eun Nam’s set design is clever and creative, and Naila Aladdin Sanders’s costumes add to the total effect. The entire production team does an excellent job of maximizing stage space and highlighting the relevant.

 

Esperanza America at after-party - Photo by Elaine L. Mura

LA OLLA runs through April 24, 2016, with performances at 8 p.m. Thursdays to Saturdays and at 3 p.m. on Sundays. On April 11, 2016, there will be a special performance at 7:30 p.m. The theater is dark on April 14 (Art Walk). The Los Angeles Theater Center is located at 514 S. Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013. Tickets cost from $26 (general) to $42 (premium seating) with $22 for student, seniors, and veterans. For reservations, call 866-811-4111 or go online at www.thelatc.org.

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