New Comedy At ITC Explores Cuban Immigrant Life

Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– Playwright Luis Santiero has first-hand knowledge of the experience of Cuban refugees seeking a new life in the USA. The Illinois Theatre Center of Park Forest will present the area premiere of his comedy THE LADY FROM HAVANA, opening Friday, October 26th for a three-week run.

Luis Santeiro was born in Havana in 1948. His family came to Miami when he was 12. He studied filmmaking in college, and went on to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. In his spare time he wrote children’s stories, several of which were used for a bilingual cultural program in Miami. This led to the creation of the groundbreaking 1970’s sitcom, “Que Pasa, U.S.A.?”, which earned Mr. Santeiro his first Emmy Award. Since 1978, he has been a writer for “Sesame Street”, for which he has won an additional eight Emmy Awards.

Since the mid-1980’s, Santeiro has devoted his attention to the stage with such plays as OUR LADY OF THE TORTILLA, MIXED BLESSINGS, THE LADY FROM HAVANA, A ROYAL AFFAIR, PRAYING WITH THE ENEMY, THE ROOSTER AND THE EGG, and the musical BARRIO BABIES. Although he now lives in New York, most of Mr. Santiero’s plays are set in Miami, and had their premieres there. The plays have been performed in both English and Spanish.

In describing THE LADY FROM HAVANA, Santeiro has said, “My mother and grandmother were the real cement of the family. The men were always there in the background, but the women were the ones talking about the important things–about emotions, family issues and so on." Indeed, THE LADY FROM HAVANA is very much a peek into Santeiro’s own family. He came with his parents to Miami in 1960. His grandparents came for a few months, but then returned to Cuba. It would then be more than 20 years before his mother would see her mother again.

The reunion between these two women–separated as much by generational differences as cultural divisions–is the jumping-off point for the play, which begins in 1980, when Mama arrives, along with her maid of 20 years, at the Miami apartment of her daughter, Marita. The second act is set ten years later, at Mama’s funeral, where three friends reveal surprising secrets about the old lady’s background.

Three actresses each play two roles in this lively comedy. Terri Lopez, Rosy Gonzalez, and Madeleine Fallon are all making their ITC debuts in the production, which is directed by Etel Billig.

THE LADY FROM HAVANA runs from Friday, October 26th through Sunday, November 11. Performances are Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 8 PM, and Sundays at 2:30 & 7:30 PM. Tickets are $21 on Fridays and Saturdays, $19 at all other times. There is a $1 discount for students & seniors. The Illinois Theatre Center is located in Downtown Park Forest at 371 Artists Walk (off Indianwood Blvd, next to Village Hall). For tickets, call (708) 481-3510.