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Pictured: Mateo Hernández
UrbanTheater Company has announced the cast for the world premiere of “Back in the Day,” a House Music dancesical written by artistic director Miranda González and inspired by José “Gringo” Echevarría’s memoir “The Real Dance Fever: Book One.”
Directed by Raquel Torre and choreographed by Breon Arzell, “Back in the Day” follows three Northside Chicago dance crews, The All-Stars, led by José “Gringo” Echevarría and their frenemies, The Culitos and Imported Taste, when African-American, Latino, and LGBTQ dominated the 1980’s after hours scene in local juice bars.
The cast includes Mateo Hernández (José “Gringo” Echevarría); Gabriela Castillo (Charlie Ríos); Omar Fernández (Frankie Díaz/DJ Personas); Sofía Tew (Gladys “Miss Chicago” Rodríguez); Isaly Viana (Beatriz “Miss B” Soto); Matty Robinson (Carlos Garza); Jermaine Robinson, Jr. (Troy Clark); Adriel Irizarry (Leach Solis); Nathaniel Andrew (Shane Ruiz); Angélica Grace (Alma Coutee); Brittany Harlin (Evelyn “Evie” Martin); and Christian D. Wilson (Anthony Lamboy).
The creative team includes: Iván Vega and Antonio Bruno (co-producers); Jenna Meyers (production manager); Michelle Housh (stage manager); Harrison Ornelas (scenic design); Liviu Pasare (projections design); Tyler King (projections design); Levi Wilkins (lighting design); Steve Labedz (sound design); Sarah Albrecht (costume design); Meagan Beattie (costume design apprentice); Mara Ishihara Zinky (props designer); Elena Magdalena (graphic designer); and Adelina Feldman-Schultz (casting director).
“This generation of dance crews lasted from 1981 to 1996 and this play is its archival tribute. I met so many wonderful people who were a part of this period that shared their stories with me,” said González. “That oral history allowed me to shape the nuances of the era and teenage characters that created a dance movement. This is a very important part of history and credits the contribution of Queer Latinx/black youth to the Chicago House music scene.”
“For this world premiere, we’re eliminating the boundaries that separate our audience from our performers. Like an arena concert, the audience will stand and dance along with us, moving around the space while immersed in the world of Janelle’s. We’ll all party together as the story unfolds around us,” said Torre. “The under told stories of the house music dance crews of the 80s Chicago are alive and well in the collective memory. We’re not setting out to declare who created what during the house movement, our goal is rather to showcase and celebrate the people who lived and partied through it.”
“Back in the Day” is presented as part of Destinos, the third annual Chicago International Latino Theater Festival, a seven-week festival of Latino theater artists and companies from Chicago, the U.S. and Latin America. “Back in the Day” runs October 8 – November 2. For more information visit urbantheaterchicago.org.