What if you went to see an off-Broadway play on 108th Street in El Barrio to support our own Latino artist, but you got much more than what you expected? That would be awesome and that is what you will get when seeing the play, Growing Up Gonzalez.
I am one that would go out of my way to support any artistic production done by our community. I am the type of Latino that would go see any movie, or play if they have a Latino actor, Director, or like in a few cases a Latino producer. Some of the productions were not that good, some were really good, but I always felt good that I did my part in helping our aspiring Latino artist.
That was the case with the play Growing Up Gonzales, starring my good friend, Luis Antonio Ramos. Luis had been telling about the play for months. Luis is a Puerto Rican actor from the South Bronx and on that alone I would support anything he does. However, Luis is also an established actor that has been on numerous films, television and stage productions.
Luis had come by my office asking for some Roberto Clemente items to use as props for the play. Latino Sports has been providing props for many films and stage productions but they usually have been for decorations. Our items have been in scenes like a Puerto Rican bar with a Roberto Clemente poster, a Latino character wearing a Clemente, or Latino Sports Jersey, or hat. That has usually been the extent of our items. It was always a good feeling to see one of our items on a stage, or in a film.
I made plans to attend the premier and Luis had called me and told me that he had a surprise for me. The fact that my guest and I could not stop laughing and were glued to our seats for every scene I thought was the surprise. I have seen Luis in other productions, but this production was all Luis. He plays two characters that are totally different. Two brothers, the older street wise Jhonny; hard core almost titere and the younger, Cisco mama's boy, studious who loved to write. The surprise to me was the incredible acting that Luis was delivering. He played both roles to a "T." Going back and forth from one to the other seamlessly was quite impressive. If that was not enough my man Luis not only had us in stitches with non-stop laughter, but on two particular scenes had my girl, Blanca close to tears and had my throat real tight. Luis Antonio Ramos hit a home run with bases loaded.
However, that was not the surprise. The surprise was a scene where the younger Cisco talks about baseball and how he loved to play and puts on his Roberto Clemente # 21 jersey. He spoke how all the kids wanted to wear #21, but he then takes off the jersey turns it around to show the #21 and states how this #21 should be retired from all of baseball. Blanca and I immediately broke out in applause and the entire theater followed since that is one important issue for our community that most don't mention.
As a Puerto Rican I was delighted to support a play that entertained me in our own hood beyond belief and just as good as any production that was on Broadway. As national chair of the Retire 21 Campaign I was delighted to see a play that had the political consciousness to state what the world and especially what Major League Baseball Commissioner, Bud Selig needs to hear more often, Retire Roberto Clemente's # 21.
For more information on this play: SOURCE