La Havana Madrid Review – A Musical Journey to the Past

Sandra Delgado wrote and stars in La Havana Madrid, her acclaimed, all-immersive, live theater/nightclub experience inspired by true stories of an actual 1960’s Latino supper club and the newly arrived Colombian, Cuban and Puerto Rican immigrants who met, danced and discovered their destinies there. Now La Havana Madrid is back, directed by Cheryl Lynn Bruce, backed by the live band Carpacho y Su Super Combo, in an enhanced co-production between Teatro Vista and Collaboraction, May 11-June 22, 2019 at The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. Tickets: thedentheatre.com or (773) 697-3830. Photo credit: Joel Maisonet

Back by popular demand, La Havana Madrid, returns as a co-production between Teatro Vista and Collaboraction, is playing until June 22 in the Heath Mainstage at the Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., in the Wicker Park neighborhood.  Teatro Vista ensemble member Cheryl Lynn Bruce, who directed the 2017 world premiere, returns as the director.

La Havana Madrid features Ayssette Muñoz as Maria. Photo credit: Joel Maisonet

It was easy for me to see why La Havana Madrid returned to the stage. With stories that offer love, hope, longing, hardships and growth, we hear the Chicago experiences from the 1960’s with a backdrop of live music.

As noted by the playwright Sandra Delgado about La Havana Madrid, “This story, is our story. Honor it. Learn from it. Pass it on.”

Taking place in the Caribbean Latino Night Club in Lakeview on the corner of Belmont and Sheffield, La Havana Madrid weaves the stories of several Latino immigrants new to Chicago all while immersing audiences in the lively music and tunes that not only raise the characters’ spirits but the audience as well from Colombian-American musician Roberto “Carpacho” Marin and his band of 30 years, Carpacho y Su Super Combo with some mambo, to cumbia, to salsa.

Tommy Rivera-Vega (left) plays Henry and Alix Rhode is Maruja. Photo credit: Joel Maisonet

In the first Vignette we meet Maria (Ayssette Muñoz)  one of several thousand  unaccompanied minors who made a mass exodus to the U.S. from Cuba in the early 1960s as part of Operation Peter Pan. Having to leave behind her parents and live separately from her brothers, we hear about her hopes and what La Havana Madrid means to her.  Next we learn about Maruja( Alix Rhode) and Henry(Tommy Rivera-Vega)’s sweet love story which is based on Sandra Delgado’s parents. Along with the hopes and dreams of those arriving in Chicago such as Carpacho (Marvin Quijada) or Puerto Rican beauty queen Myrna (Ilse Zacharias) we hear of the hardships of feeling like you don’t belong, racism, and being pushed out of neighborhoods such as Lincoln Park further west from Carlos (Victor Musoni) and Tony (Mike Oquendo)

(from left) Victor Musoni (front), Marvin Quijada (left) and Alix Rhode (right) Photo credit: Joel Maisonet

The immersive setup with the video design, cabaret seating and dance floor along with the stage and live band added vibrancy to the stories. You could hear the sound and image the waves and water that is Lake Michigan. The pictures and sounds of the neighborhoods gives the audience a glimpse of how it was and added to the experience of the different Chicago stories. Plus, dancing is encouraged!

Ilse Zacharias plays Myrna, with fellow cast member Mike Oquendo. Photo credit: Joel Maisonet

All the actors shine in this production. As the audience you will be swept away not only the music, but stories that is our city.

Tickets, $30-$60, are on sale now. Visit thedentheatre.com or call the Den Theatre Box office, (773) 697-3830, for tickets and information. La Havana Madrid has a running time of 2 hours and 15 minutes including an intermission.

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