By Victoria L. Dammer
“Everything else I’ve seen on Broadway recently is entertainment. This production has content.”
In the past few years, we have been inundated with political discourse on the plight of immigrants living in our country who came with their parents illegally and have no documentation. As a result, American society has labeled them “Dreamers.”
Who are these Dreamers?
¡Americano! The Musical introduces the audience to the actual life story of Tony Valdovinos (Sean Ewing), who came to the United States with his parents when he was two. At 18, Tony tries to join the Marines alongside his love interest Ceci (Legna Cedillo), to fulfill their lifelong ambition and defend this country. But instead, Tony finds out his parents have kept the truth from him, and he is not a legal citizen but a Dreamer. It is a devastating blow, but the lie rips apart a close-knit family. Tony’s father has worked hard in a new country that fulfilled his dreams but had to hide in the shadows and hide the truth from his son.
Tony’s mother Felicitas (Johanna Carlisle-Zepeda)is the family’s rock, worrying about them while providing a wonderful home life. She has wanted to tell Tony the secret, but her husband felt it was better left alone. How wrong he was.
The opening song “We Pave the Way,” performed by the Company at the construction site where Tony and his father Martin (Alex Paez) work, is the first sign to the audience they are in store for a heartfelt story. The entire production has a fantastic musical score and physical dance moves that top some of the best I’ve seen in recent months.
Ewing’s voice is like, “Wow!” As the story unfolds, we get an inside glimpse of Tony’s personality, a little shy, in love with Ceci, but afraid to show his feelings. Ceci’s love is reciprocal, but she’s straightforward, and the theater crowd can feel the depth of her passion in the song, “I Can See it in Your Eyes.” It is a lovely, heartfelt tune.
When Ceci joins the Marines and is deployed, the spark in Tony’s life seems to be diminished. He’s lost one dream of being in the service and the closeness of the love of his life. But with some push from his friends, Tony gets involved in “La Machine,” the political movement to help Dreamers gain citizenship, and he comes alive. Tony’s brother Hector (Ryan Reyes) and his girlfriend help him get out the message and get the votes to make a change for all who wish to be an American with a dream, not just a Dreamer.
There is an unexpected twist in the story that I can’t reveal, and as I looked around, the entire audience was crying. The roaring applause at the end of the production proved those who wish to be inspired by a true story with a delightfully happy ending would want to see ¡Americano! The Musical before it moves on.
¡Americano! The Musical features an original score by acclaimed singer-songwriter Carrie Rodriguez, a book by Michael Barnard, Jonathan Rosenberg, and Fernanda Santos, and additional lyrics by Barnard and Rosenberg. Directed by Michael Barnard. Presented by Quixote Productions in association with Chicanos Por La Causa (Executive producer); co-produced by Sayu Bhojwani, David Tedesco, Lynn Londen, George Weisz and Keith Mishkin; associate producers are Ryan Duncan-Ayala, Donna Trinkoff, Amas Musical Theatre and Sarah Bentley; general management by Visceral Entertainment; production management by Tinc Productions; advertising and marketing by The Pekoe Group; casting by Michael Cassara, CSA; press representatives Keith Sherman & Associates.
¡Americano! The Musical will play a limited engagement through June 19 at New World Stages, Stage 3 (340 West 50th Street). Opening night is May 1 at 7 p.m. Performances are Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are on sale at Telecharge.com, 212-239-6200. For further information, visit AmericanoTheMusical.com
Running time is approximately 135 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission.