Kiss My Aztec!
Book by John Leguizamo and Tony Taccone
Music by Benjamin Velez
Lyrics by David Kamp, Benjamin Velez, and John Leguizamo
Based on an original screenplay written by John Leguizamo and Stephen Chbosky
Choreography by Maija García
Directed by Tony Taccone
Main Season · Roda Theatre
May 28–July 21, 2019
Running time: approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes, plus one 15-minute intermission
Extended through July 21
“I’m-a cast a spell to dispel ya supposition
That Latin America is Latin by definition”
This fresh, irreverent musical comedy could only spring forth from the clever and culturally savvy mind of John Leguizamo (who seriously schooled Berkeley Rep audiences with Latin History for Morons). With an energetic musical fusion of salsa, Latin boogaloo, hip-hop, gospel, funk, and merengue, and an inspired mash-up of Elizabethan dialect and modern slang, Kiss My Aztec! celebrates, elevates, and commemorates Latinx culture.
European conquest? Hell, no! It may be the 16th century in Spanish-occupied Mesoamerica, but these Aztecs is woke. Led by the unlikely duo of Colombina (a fierce female warrior) and Pepe (a not-so-fierce clown), they mount a scrappy resistance against their Spanish oppressors—and somehow get entangled in the dysfunctional dynamics of the Spanish viceroy’s bickering family. Will our heroes get conquistadored by whitey or win the day?
Please note that John Leguizamo won’t be performing in Kiss My Aztec!—other fantastic actors will be starring in this uproarious new musical! Read more about them here.
Come early and enjoy the atmosphere!
To celebrate Kiss My Aztec! we’ve created an outdoor bar featuring margaritas, Tecate, lemonade, and tortilla chips. Join us starting an hour before the show!
An important note regarding health and content advisories:
Kiss My Aztec! includes haze and strobe effects. Berkeley Rep offers an advisory about any stage effect of potential concern to patrons’ health. We don’t offer unsolicited content advisories as sensitivities vary from person to person. If you have concerns about content or themes, we are happy to provide details. Please call our box office at 510 647–2949 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Current ticket prices
Premium: $90–105 · Section A: $75–90 · Section B: $40–75
30% discount available for anyone under the age of 35
We offer special pricing to groups of 10+, military personnel, and more. Check out all our discounts.
Prices are subject to change at any time. Generally, your best bet is to buy early. Weeknight tickets tend to cost less than weekends.
John Leguizamo · Book / Lyricist
Multifaceted performer, Tony and Emmy Award-winner John Leguizamo’s notable career defies categorization. His work spans the genres of film, theatre, television, literature, and beyond. As writer and performer, John created the off-Broadway sensation Mambo Mouth (1991: Obie, Outer Critics Circle, Vanguardia Awards). His second one-man show, Spic O-Rama (1993), enjoyed extended sold-out runs in Chicago and New York (Dramatists’ Guild Hull-Warriner Award for Best American Play, Lucille Lortel Outstanding Achievement Award for Best Broadway Performance, Drama Desk Award for Best Solo Performance). His third solo show, Freak, completed a successful run on Broadway in 1998. A special presentation of Freak, directed by Spike Lee, aired on HBO (Emmy Award for Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Music Program and nomination for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special). In 2001 John returned to Broadway with Sexaholix…a Love Story, directed by Peter Askin (Outer Critics Circle Award nomination for Outstanding Solo Performance and Tony Award nomination for Best Special Theatrical Performance). Sexaholix aired as an HBO Special in 2002 and toured widely. His one-man show, Ghetto Klown, was developed at La Jolla Playhouse (and developed at Berkeley Rep as Klass Klown) and went on to Broadway run in 2011. His graphic novel Ghetto Klown has been nominated for a 2016 Eisner Award. In 2016, John’s Latin History for Morons (directed by Tony Taccone) had its world premiere at Berkeley Rep. The show was nominated for two Tony Awards in 2018 with John being the recipient of a special award for his career.
Tony Taccone · Book / Director
After more than 30 years at Berkeley Rep, Tony is celebrating his final season with the company. During Tony’s tenure as artistic director of Berkeley Rep, the Tony Award-winning nonprofit has earned a reputation as an international leader in innovative theatre. In these years, Berkeley Rep has presented more than 70 world, American, and West Coast premieres and sent 24 shows to New York, two to London, and one to Hong Kong. Tony has staged more than 40 plays in Berkeley, including new work from Julia Cho, John Leguizamo, Daniel Handler, Culture Clash, Rinde Eckert, David Edgar, Danny Hoch, Geoff Hoyle, and Itamar Moses. He directed the shows that transferred to London, Continental Divide and Tiny Kushner, and three that landed on Broadway: Bridge & Tunnel, Wishful Drinking, and Latin History for Morons. Prior to working at Berkeley Rep, Tony served as artistic director of Eureka Theatre, which produced the American premieres of plays by Dario Fo, Caryl Churchill, and David Edgar before focusing on a new generation of American writers. While at the Eureka, Tony commissioned Tony Kushner’s legendary Angels in America and co-directed its world premiere. He has collaborated with Kushner on eight plays at Berkeley Rep, including The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures. Tony’s regional credits include Actors Theatre of Louisville, Arena Stage, Center Theatre Group, the Eureka Theatre, the Guthrie Theater, the Huntington Theatre Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Public Theater, and Seattle Repertory Theatre. As a playwright, he debuted Ghost Light, Rita Moreno: Life Without Makeup, Game On, written with Dan Hoyle, and It Can’t Happen Here, written with Bennett S. Cohen. In 2012, Tony received the Margo Jones Award for “demonstrating a significant impact, understanding, and affirmation of playwriting, with a commitment to the living theatre.” Most recently, Tony directed the revival of Angels in America at Berkeley Rep.
Benjamin Velez · Music / Lyricist / Arranger
Born and raised in Miami, Benjamin is a composer/lyricist and Columbia graduate where he wrote the 114th Annual Varsity Show. He’s been a proud member of the BMI workshop since 2010 (Harrington Award in 2012). His work has been developed at the Yale Institute for Music Theatre, Musical Theatre Factory, Ars Nova, New York Musical Theatre Festival, The Civilians, 4@15, Joe’s Pub, the York Theatre (Afterland), Dixon Place (Starblasters), and The Public Theater. He was a 2017 Sundance Artist at the Ucross Foundation, and a 2018 artist in residence. His musical Borderline was the 2018 Weston Playhouse New Musical Award winner and will be workshopped at the 2019 O’Neill National Music Theater Conference this summer. He is a 2018–19 Dramatist Guild Foundation Fellow.
David Kamp · Lyricist
David is an author, journalist, and humorist. Among his books are the national bestseller The United States of Arugula, a chronicle of America’s foodways; I Must Say, Martin Short’s best-selling memoir (as co-author); and four volumes of humor. A longtime contributor to Vanity Fair, he has profiled such figures as Johnny Cash, Sly Stone, Lucian Freud, Bruce Springsteen, Randy Newman, and the Brill Building songwriters. His work also appears regularly in the New York Times. He began his career at Spy, the legendary satirical monthly. Kiss My Aztec! is his first musical.
Maija García · Choreographer
Maija’s choreography credits include West Side Story (the Guthrie Theater), Snow in Mid-Summer (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Another Word for Beauty (Goodman Theatre), Cuba Libre (Artists Repertory Theatre), Hatuey (Peak Performances), Fats Waller (Kennedy Center), Neighbors (The Public Theater), and FELA! (Broadway, National Theatre of London, world tour, the concert). Film and TV credits include Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, Chi-Raq (Amazon), and She’s Gotta Have It (Netflix). Maija has directed Salsa, Mambo, ChaChaCha (Teatro Mella, La Habana Cuba); CRANE (Lied Center); Stories of Service (Hill Auditorium); I Am New York—Juan Rodriguez (El Museo del Barrio); Legend of Yauna (Brooklyn Academy of Music); and Ghosts of Manhattan (Fort Tryon Park, NYC). Maija is Director of Professional Training at The Guthrie Theater, a member of SDC, and represented by CAA.
David Gardos · Music Supervisor
David’s Broadway credits include Falsettos, Finding Neverland, Chaplin (associate music director), Side Show, Big Fish (assistant conductor), and Hamilton (sub conductor). Regional/New York credits as music director include The Family Resemblance (O’Neill Theater Center), Darling Grenadine (Goodspeed-at-Chester), The Boy Who Danced On Air (Abingdon Theatre), My Paris (Long Wharf Theatre, Goodspeed-at-Chester), Ever After (Paper Mill Playhouse), and Nickel Mines (New York Musical Festival). Concerts include Deb Monk’s Birthday Bash (BC/EFA) and Kristin Chenoweth at Carnegie Hall. David received a Master of Music (Orchestral Conducting) from University of Cincinnati (CCM) and a Bachelor of Music (Music Education) from University of Sydney.
Simon Hale · Orchestrator
Simon’s credits include Tootsie (Tony nomination), Girl from the North Country (Drama Desk/Olivier nominations), Spring Awakening, Alice by Heart, Romantics Anonymous, Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Drama Desk nomination), Finding Neverland, Whisper House (Old Globe), and Strictly Ballroom (West End). Other credits include Side Show (Southwark Playhouse) and Company (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield). As arranger/orchestrator, Simon has worked for George Benson, Björk, Sarah Chang, Ray Davies, Robin Gibb, Josh Groban, Incognito, Jamiroquai, Lang Lang, George Michael, Oasis, Sade, Alicia Keys, Duncan Sheik, and Simply Red. After working on Sam Smith’s In the Lonely Hour (Grammy nomination) Simon orchestrated and conducted the Golden Globe and Oscar-winning Writing’s on the Wall from the James Bond film Spectre as well as conducting the orchestra for the live performance at the Academy Awards in February 2016. Simon orchestrated and co-composed the soundtrack for the video game L.A.Noire which (along with Andrew Hale) won him a BAFTA for original music.
Wilson Torres · Percussion Arranger
Wilson is a graduate of The Juilliard School M.A.P, The Juilliard School Pre College program, and F.H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art (Fame). He received his BM, MM in Orchestral Performance from The Manhattan School of Music under the tutelage of Duncan Patton and Christopher S. Lamb. Broadway credits include Tony and Grammy Award-winning musical In the Heights, Les Misérables (25th anniversary revival), Lysistrata Jones, The Wiz (Encores), On Your Toes (Encores), Cabin in the Sky (Encores), Invisible Thread (Second Stage), and Smokey Joe’s Cafe. Tours include The Lion King (first national), The Lion King (Cheetah), and Wicked (first national). Orchestral credits include San Francisco Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, Staten Island Symphony, and Albany Symphony. Film/TV: Smash, Throwdown with Bobby Flay, Ocean’s 8, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Wilson is a proud endorser of Latin Percussion and Sabian Cymbals.
Clint Ramos · Scenic/Costume Design
Clint’s Berkeley Rep credits include Ruined and Pike Street. Notable set/costume designs include, on Broadway: Eclipsed (Tony Award, Henry Hewes nomination), Once On This Island (Tony, Outer Critics, Drama Desk nominations), Torch Song (Tony nomination), Burn This, Sunday in the Park with George, Six Degrees of Separation, In Transit, The Elephant Man (Broadway, West End), and Violet. Off-Broadway credits include White Noise, Wild Goose Dreams, Slave Play, Familiar, The True, Here Lies Love (New York, London), Sweet Charity, and Booty Candy. He recently premiered Downstate by Bruce Norris at the National Theatre. He has over 200 regional and international credits. He is also an Encores! Off-Center principal designer. Upcoming: Grand Horizons, Soft Power, and The Outsiders. Clint’s awards and honors include the Tony Award (first person of color to win in his category), Obie Award for Sustained Excellence, three Lucille Lortel Awards, a TDF Sharaff Award, two American Theatre Wing Henry Hewes Design Awards, and Helen Hayes Awards. He is the recipient of the Ani ng Dangal Philippine Presidential Medal; he was awarded this honor twice. He is the Head of Design at Fordham University Theatre Program. @clintramos
Alexander V. Nichols · Lighting Design
Alexander returns to Berkeley Rep for his 44th production. Broadway credits include Wishful Drinking, Hugh Jackman Back on Broadway, Nice Work If You Can Get It, and Latin History For Morons, and off-Broadway productions of Los Big Names, Horizon, Bridge & Tunnel, Taking Over, Through the Night, In the Wake, In Masks Outrageous and Austere, and Ernest Shackleton Loves Me! Regional theatre credits include designs for American Conservatory Theater, the Mark Taper Forum, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Arena Stage, Huntington Theatre Company, La Jolla Playhouse, and Seattle Repertory Theatre. Dance credits include resident designer for Pennsylvania Ballet, Hartford Ballet, and American Repertory Ballet. He was the lighting supervisor for American Ballet Theatre and has been the resident visual designer for the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company. His designs are in the repertory of San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, among others. Recent projects include Elizabeth Cree at Opera Philadelphia, Nixon in China at the LA Philharmonic, and Bluebeard’s Castle for the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra.
Jessica Paz · Sound Design
Jessica designed the Broadway production of Hadestown (Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle nominee). Off-Broadway and regional credits include Welcome to Fear City (Kansas City Repertory Theatre); Twelfth Night, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Miss You Like Hell, Othello, and Julius Caesar (The Public Theater); Burn All Night (American Repertory Theater); A Sucker EmCee and The Muscles in Our Toes (LAByrinth Theater Company); Ugly Lies the Bone (Roundabout Theatre Company); Becoming Dr. Ruth (Westside Theatre); Looking for the Pony (Vital Theatre Company); Women Beware Women (Red Bull Theater); and Stretch—A Fantasia (New Georges). Jessica was associate designer of Bandstand (Broadway), Dear Evan Hansen (Broadway and international), and Fela! (Broadway and international).
The musical Kiss My Aztec! is based on a screenplay by John Leguizamo and Stephen Chbosky. Stephen is an author, director, and screenwriter. He is best known for his award-winning adaptation of his debut novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower (GLAAD, Independent Spirit, People’s Choice, WGA nominee). The novel spent over two years on the New York Times Bestseller list and enjoyed the distinction of being Number 10 on the most banned books in America list for 2000–09. He co-wrote the screenplay for Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast as well as the film adaptation of RJ Palacio’s Wonder, starring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson, which he also directed. His first feature, The Four Corners of Nowhere, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. He wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation of Rent and co-created the post-apocalyptic TV drama, Jericho. His second novel, Imaginary Friend, will be published October 1, 2019. Twitter: @StephenChbosky
Amy Potozkin, CSA · Casting
This is Amy’s 29th season at Berkeley Rep. Through the years she has also had the pleasure of casting plays for ACT (Seattle), Arizona Theatre Company, Aurora Theatre Company, B Street Theatre, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Dallas Theater Center, Marin Theatre Company, the Marsh, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Social Impact Productions Inc., and Traveling Jewish Theatre. Amy cast roles for various independent films, including Conceiving Ada, starring Tilda Swinton; Haiku Tunnel and Love & Taxes, both by Josh Kornbluth; and Beyond Redemption by Britta Sjogren. Amy received her MFA from Brandeis University, where she was also an artist in residence. She has been an audition coach to hundreds of actors and a presentation/communication coach to many businesspeople. Amy taught acting at Mills College and audition technique at Berkeley Rep’s School of Theatre, and has led workshops at numerous other venues in the Bay Area. Prior to working at Berkeley Rep, she was an intern at Playwrights Horizons in New York. Amy is a member of CSA, the Casting Society of America, and was nominated for Artios Awards for Excellence in Casting for The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures; One Man, Two Guvnors; and An Octoroon.
Tara Rubin Casting · Casting
Selected Broadway and national tours include Ain’t Too Proud, King Kong, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, The Band’s Visit, Prince of Broadway, Indecent, Bandstand, Sunset Boulevard, Miss Saigon, Dear Evan Hansen, A Bronx Tale, Cats, Falsettos, Disaster!, School of Rock, Bullets Over Broadway, Les Misérables, Big Fish, The Phantom of the Opera, Billy Elliot, Shrek, Spamalot, …Spelling Bee, The Producers, Mamma Mia!, and Jersey Boys. Off-Broadway credits include Clueless, Gloria: A Life, Smokey Joe’s Café, Here Lies Love, and Love, Loss, and What I Wore. Selected regional credits include Yale Repertory Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Berkeley Rep, The Old Globe, Westport Country Playhouse, and Asolo Rep. Visit tararubincasting.com.
Madeleine Oldham · Dramaturg
Madeleine is the director of The Ground Floor: Berkeley Rep’s Center for the Creation and Development of New Work and the Theatre’s resident dramaturg. She oversees commissioning and new play development, and dramaturged the world premiere productions of Fairview, Aubergine, The House that will not Stand, Passing Strange, and In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), among others. As literary manager and associate dramaturg at Center Stage in Baltimore, she produced the First Look reading series and headed up its young audience initiative. Before moving to Baltimore, she was the literary manager at Seattle Children’s Theatre, where she oversaw an extensive commissioning program. She also acted as assistant and interim literary manager at Intiman Theatre in Seattle. Madeleine served for four years on the executive committee of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas and has also worked with ACT (Seattle), Austin Scriptworks, Crowded Fire, the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, the Kennedy Center, New Dramatists, Playwrights Center, and Portland Center Stage.
Michael Suenkel · Production Stage Manager
Michael began his association with Berkeley Rep as the stage management intern for the 1984–85 season and is now in his 25th season as production stage manager. He has also worked with the Huntington Theatre (Boston), The Public Theater and New Victory Theatre (New York), La Jolla Playhouse, Yale Repertory Theatre, and many others. Internationally he has stage managed shows in Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Among his favorite Berkeley Rep productions are last season’s Angels in America, The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures, Eurydice, Fêtes de la Nuit, The Beaux’ Stratagem, and Mad Forest.
Megan McClintock · Assistant Stage Manager
Megan is always happy to come home to Berkeley Rep after starting her stage management career as a Berkeley Rep fellow. In the years since she has stage managed at American Conservatory Theater, Aurora Theatre Company, Center Repertory Company, California Shakespeare Theater, Marin Theatre Company, and the San Francisco Opera. Favorite Berkeley Rep credits include Treasure Island, Girlfriend, The Arabian Nights, The White Snake, No Man’s Land, Dear Elizabeth, Tristan & Yseult, The Wild Bride, and How to Write a New Book for the Bible. Megan is also a part of the venue and production management team at the Curran in San Francisco. Megan has a BA in theatre and history from Willamette University.
Lauren Cox · Associate Choreographer
Diggle · Associate Scenic Designer
Michelle Ridley · Associate Costume Designer
Beth Lake · Associate Sound Designer
Sean Kana · Contractor
JoAnn Kane Music/Russell Bartmus · Copyist
Xavier Rubiano, CSA · Casting
Katie Craddock · Assistant Dramaturg
Jessica Berman · Dialect Coach
Sofie Miller · Production Assistant
Tanner Bryce Oertel · Production Assistant
Angelica Beliard* · Ensemble
Angelica is a New Jersey native raised in New York City and is thrilled to be making her Berkeley Rep debut in Kiss My Aztec! Most recently she starred as Carmen in an immersive adaptation Carmen: To Havana and Back (Public Arts). Angelica made her Broadway debut in the hit musical On Your Feet!, and then joined the Broadway company of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical. @bite_size4
Chad Carstarphen* · El Jaguar Negro / Reymundo
Chad is thrilled to be making his Berkeley Rep debut with Kiss My Aztec! His regional and national credits include Broke-ology (Kitchen Theatre Company) and the first national tour of In the Heights. In NYC, he was seen in the world premieres of Evensong (Astoria Performing Arts Center) and The Conscientious Objector (the Clurman Theatre at Theatre Row). As an ensemble member of Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre, productions with the company include El Bolero Was My Downfall, The Desire of the Astronaut, The Harlem Hellfighters…, Hey Yo! Yo Soy!, and Neon Baby. Chad’s film/TV credits include Landing Up, The Pudding Club, and Dumped. He attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. @chadcarstarphen
Lauren Cox* · Swing / Associate Choreographer
Lauren is originally from the Bay Area and is now based in New York City. She is ecstatic to return home to join the team of Kiss My Aztec! Lauren is on faculty at Joffrey Ballet School and The Ailey School. Performance credits include, off Broadway: Immersive play Seeing You (as 1940s Jazz Singer) and the Afro-Cuban Yiddish Opera Hatuey: Memory of Fire (Xiomara, dance captain). TV and live shows: Gwen Stefani, Alicia Keys, Pharrell, LL Cool J, and Saturday Night Live. Choreography: TEDx Asbury Park; Legally Blonde, Hamilton, and Once on This Island (The Broadway Experience); The Late Wedding (Columbia University); Time of Our Life (Hunter College); The Jazz Nutcracker (LaGuardia Performing Arts Center); Joffrey Ballet School; The Ailey School; and Harlem Arts Festival. She is interested in the intersection of poetry, dance, and sociology in order to articulate diverse walks of life and provide opportunities for artists around the world. Visit laurencox.org.
KC de la Cruz · Ensemble
KC is delighted to be making her Berkeley Rep debut. Recent credits include The Prince of Egypt (Keturah) with TheatreWorks; In the Heights (Nina) with Woodminster Summer Musicals; Smokey Joe’s Café (DeLee), The Little Mermaid (Ariel), and Les Misérables (Eponine) with Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre; West Side Story (Maria) with City Lights Theatre; and Miss Saigon (Kim) with Palo Alto Players. KC has been performing since she was 5 years old and hopes to take her talents and dreams to the Big Apple where she wants to further her theatre career. @Kcdelacruzz
Zachary Infante* · Fernando / Sebastian / Ensemble
Zach is a New Jersey-based artist grateful to be making their Berkeley Rep debut! Zach was most recently seen as the Dormouse in Duncan Sheik, Steven Sater, and Jessie Nelson’s new musical Alice By Heart off Broadway at MCC Theater. Other off-Broadway credits include Theatre for a New Audience (Francis Flute in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, dir. Julie Taymor) and Encores! at New York City Center. Regional credits include American Repertory Theater (Fingersmith, dir. Bill Rauch), The Kennedy Center, Paper Mill Playhouse, Hartford Stage, Two River Theater, and Orlando Shakes (Sonny in In the Heights, 2019 Orlando Sentinel Theater Best Supporting Actor nominee). Film/TV: Gordon in School of Rock, Carrie Pilby, Gotham, and Alpha House. They are also a creative producing fellow at Musical Theater Factory, in residency at Playwrights Horizons. They hold a BFA in Drama from NYU Tisch School of the Arts (CAP21 and ETW) and are a proud AEA and SAG-AFTRA member represented by Abrams Artists Agency. @zachinfante
Yani Marin* · Colombina
Yani is excited to be making her Berkeley Rep debut, with this extraordinary cast and creative team. Her Broadway credits include Wicked, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, and West Side Story (2009 revival, Grammy-winning original cast recording) where she understudied and performed the role of Anita. Her other shows and tours include Hair (Hollywood Bowl), Wicked (first national), West Side Story (international), The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, and The Beyoncé Experience as a backup dancer. Most recently Yani had a recurring role in the new series Jack Ryan (Amazon Prime) as well as a recurring role on Empire (FOX). Other TV credits include Blue Bloods, NCIS LA, Criminal Minds, One Bad Choice, and Smash. She is a graduate of NYU, Tisch School of the Arts. Currently, Yani is also in pre-production for an independent feature film that she is producing and starring in called Nice to Meet Me.
Jesús E. Martínez* · Captain Soldier / Ensemble
Jesús has been part of the Kiss My Aztec! family since 2014 and he’s delighted to debut at Berkeley Rep. Hailing from NYC, he received his BA at SUNY Purchase College and is an ensemble member of Pregones Theatre, Teatro SEA, and Spanish Repertory Theatre. He recently appeared in Dancing in My Cockroach Killers (Pregones Theatre), Sueño: A Latino Take of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Society of the Educational Arts), In the Name of Salome (Spanish Repertory Theatre), Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliette (La TEA Theatre), which earned him an award from the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors for his portrayal of Mercutio. His favorite voice acting credits for TV/film include Blue Bloods (CBS), Dora and Friends (Nickelodeon), The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix), The First Purge (Universal), The Sun Is Also a Star (Warner Bros), and many others. Twitter/Insta: @mrtnz1393
Maria-Christina Oliveras* · Tolima / Ensemble
Maria-Christina is thrilled to be back at Berkeley Rep, having made her debut in the world premiere of Amélie, which she subsequently did on Broadway. She was recently seen in the Bay Area at The Curran in David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori’s new musical Soft Power and Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music. Broadway credits include Amélie (original cast recording), Machinal, and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. Other New York credits include Here Lies Love (original cast recording), Pretty Filthy (original cast recording), Romeo and Juliet (The Public Theater), and Zorba! (Encores City Center), among numerous others. Regionally, she has performed at Yale Repertory Theatre, Center Theatre Group, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Long Wharf Theatre, Sundance, Baltimore Center Stage, the Huntington Theatre Company, and the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. Recent film and television appearances include St. Vincent, Madame Secretary, and The Blacklist. She holds her BA from Yale University and her MFA from the National Theatre Conservatory and is a member of The Actors’ Center. Follow her @mcoliveras and mariachristinaoliveras.com.
Joél Pérez* · Pepe
Joél is an actor and writer who is excited to make his Berkeley Rep debut! As an actor, his theatre work includes Fun Home (Broadway and The Public Theater); Sweet Charity (The New Group, Lortel Award winner for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical); Oedipus El Rey, Wild Goose Dreams, and As You Like It (The Public Theater); and Stuck Elevator (American Conservatory Theater). His TV work includes Jesus Christ Superstar (NBC), Person of Interest (CBS), Odd Mom Out (Bravo), The Big C (Showtime), and The Outs (Vimeo). As a writer, his play, The Church of the Holy Glory, premiered at Ars Nova ANTFest 2018. His full-length play, From the Fountain, is in development with the Sol Project. He is also a writer and performer in SHIZ, a monthly musical sketch comedy show at Upright Citizen’s Brigade. He studied at Tufts University, the British American Drama Academy, and UCB. Follow him @misterjoelperez and joelperez.com.
Al Rodrigo* · Rodrigo / Ensemble
Al is very excited to be making his debut here at Berkeley Rep. New York credits include Open Admissions (Broadway U/S); Blood Wedding, Death of Garcia Lorca, and Bang Bang Blues at Joseph Papp Public Theater; Don Juan of Seville at Classic Stage Company; The Señorita from Tacna and Savings at INTAR; and New York 1937 at Jewish Repertory Theater. Regional credits include The Happiest Song Plays Last at the Los Angeles Theatre, One Crazy Day or The Marriage of Figaro at Arizona Theatre Company, Pericles at Hartford Stage, Romeo and Juliet at Syracuse Stage, Bandido! at the Mark Taper Forum, and La Posada Magica at South Coast Rep, and others. Film credits include Last Rites, The Glass Shield, Brown’s Requiem, The Great White Hype, The Birdcage, Citizen Jane, House of Sand and Fog, and others. Al’s television credits include Truth Be Told, Mayans M.C., Supernatural, CSI Miami, NYPD Blue, Wanted, The West Wing, Burn Notice, High Incident, JAG, Star Trek DS9, ARLI$$, Martin, Something Wilder, The Nanny, Riders in the Sky, Prey, and others. He also works extensively in the voiceover industry. Visit alrodrigo.com.
Desiree Rodriguez* · Pilar / Ensemble
Desiree is making her Berkeley Rep debut! Off Broadway credits include Elizabeth in Tricks the Devil Taught Me (Minetta Lane Theatre). National tours and regional credits include Ana in Barrio Grrrl! (Kennedy Center), Frida/Rufina/Alfonsina in Tres Vidas (Core Ensemble), and Roberta in Why You Beasting? (Fringe). TV/film credits include The Sun Is Also a Star (Warner Bros.), The Village (NBC), Orange is the New Black (Netflix), The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix), Madam Secretary (CBS), Unforgettable (CBS), and Black Nativity (FOX). She has sung backup for Gloria Estefan and Harry Connick Jr. and has recorded with the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s on their album Mosquito. She is a member of the Broadway Inspirational Voices choir directed by Michael McElroy. You can follow her shenanigans @msdesrod.
Richard Henry Ruiz* · Pierre Pierrot / Ensemble
Richard is happy to be making his Berkeley Rep debut. Off Broadway he has appeared in Fiorello (Encores) and Two Gentlemen of Verona: The Musical (The Public Theater). Some regional credits include Assassins (Yale Repertory Theatre), Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame (La Jolla Playhouse, Paper Mill Playhouse), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Folger Theatre), The Music Man (the Guthrie Theater), Two Gentlemen of Verona (Old Globe), Twelfth Night (Pig Iron Theatre Company), Man of La Mancha (Jeff Award nomination, Marriott Lincolnshire Theater), Guys and Dolls (Milwaukee Repertory Theater), 1776 (Connecticut Repertory Theatre), Oliver (Goodspeed Opera House), and most recently The D’Ysquith Family in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (Florida Studio Theatre). National tours include Man of La Mancha, Jesus Christ Superstar, Urinetown, and Sweet Charity. Richard’s television credits include Search Party, season two. Visit richardhenrynyc.com.
Kenji Higashihama · Music Director / Conductor / Keyboards
Kenji made his Berkeley Rep debut as associate music director and keyboard 2 for Paradise Square earlier this season and is happy to be back for Kiss My Aztec! He is a freelance musician and private teacher recently transplanted to the Bay Area. Some previous credits include working with ‘Ulalena (Maui Theatre Lahaina), Mahi’ai Kekumu (local Hawaiian artist), Afro Criollo Sound (Afro-Caribbean band), Jill Santoriello (A Tale of Two Cities and It Happened in Key West), associate music directing a national tour of The Music Man (Windwood Productions), and more. Locally, he has been seen playing for organizations such as Esses Productions, Broadway by the Bay, Transcendence Theatre Company, Center Rep, The College Preparatory School, TRIS, and Piedmont Children’s Choirs.
Dana Bauer · Reeds
Dana grew up in Vallejo and attended San Francisco State University. She has toured Europe, Asia, and the U.S. in the orchestras of A Chorus Line and Les Misérables. Locally, she has played for numerous musicals, such as Wicked, Mambo Kings, Aladdin, Miss Saigon, and Berkeley Rep’s own Amélie, and backed up artists like Johnny Mathis and Michael Feinstein. In addition to being a woodwind player, Dana is a busy working voice actress and jazz singer. Her album Dana Bauer—In My Own Voice is available on iTunes and Spotify. She lives in the Bay Area with three cats, a poodle, and a drummer.
Juan Carreon · Drums / Percussion
Juan is a San Francisco Bay Area-based freelance drummer and is a graduate of the acclaimed University of Miami Jazz Department, where he studied drumset, classical, and world percussion. He has most recently been seen touring across the country occupying the drum chair for Mexican roots band Los Cenzontles and Latin music icon Jorge Santana. Equally comfortable in several styles, Juan has shared the stage with an eclectic group of musicians that includes Jackson Browne, David Hidalgo (Los Lobos), Flaco Jiménez, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and Pete Escovedo. Juan has recorded several albums with the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, including original works by Andrew Lippa I Am Harvey Milk and the recently released Unbreakable.
Steve Danska · Guitar
Steve played guitar in Berkeley Rep’s premiere of Paradise Square earlier this season. He is a Bay Area native making a living as a professional guitarist. His music education began at a young age studying classical piano, but he later fell in love with the guitar. He graduated from California State University East Bay in 2014 with a BA in jazz guitar performance. Versatility across music genres is one of his strongest assets and has ultimately led to touring nationally and internationally as a side musician for different artists. Apart from playing musicals around the Bay Area, he plays guitar for Megan Rose from The Voice, as well as guitar in two original bands, Analog Us and Warscythe. It’s not uncommon for Steve to play everything from country to heavy metal and a musical all in the same week. Steve tries to find things he likes about music in every genre he listens to, and he’s thrilled to help bring the music of this production to life.
Marvin McFadden · Trumpet
Marvin has been a professional trumpet player working in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1980. His musical capabilities have enabled him to be a successful freelance musician in the greatly varied genres of today’s music industry. His versatility along with his expertise in lead trumpet playing has kept him in constant demand. Marvin’s many credits include playing backup to, or recording with such artists as Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Tormé, George Shearing, Rosemary Clooney, Huey Lewis and the News, The Doobie Brothers, Santana, Hammer, Natalie Cole, Maureen McGovern, Barry Manilow, Diana Krall, Bob Hope, Vic Damone, Ray Charles, ConFunkShun, Tony Toni Tone, Donna Summer, and The Temptations. Marvin has done numerous musical productions in San Francisco, including Jersey Boys, Book of Mormon, In the Heights, Bronx Tale, Spamalot, The Color Purple, Dream Girls, and Motown the Musical.
Eric Price · Bass
Eric is a professional bassist and music educator located in the East Bay. Eric works as a private bass teacher and string clinician in schools around the Bay Area. He serves as principal bassist with several local orchestras, including the UC Berkeley Symphony, Solano Symphony, and the Symphony of the Redwoods. He has performed with the Berkeley Symphony, Stockton Symphony, Orpheus Project in Juneau, Alaska, and internationally with the Classical Music Festival (Austria) and Tuscia Opera Festival (Italy). Eric has become increasingly involved in Bay Area musical theatre, and he is delighted to be a part of Berkeley Rep.
* Indicates a member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
Musicians in this production are members of Musicians Union Local 6, American Federation of Musicians.
Vivacious…It’s a sprawling, inclusive, celebratory explosion of energy that continually lobs truth bombs at its audience through crude, incisive, often hilarious lines and lyrics…‘The original sin of the country you’re in is white people on boats.’ That’s from the rousing opening number performed by an ass-kicking 11-member ensemble. The choreography by Maija García immediately lets us know we’re in for a show where everything goes. Urban, modern, traditional, Latinx—it’s all here, and it’s all exciting…This is the kind of highly carbonated musical that makes audiences happy—makes them feel smart and entertained and progressive—and it looks like a joy to perform…This is a big, juicy Kiss that inspires celebration and hope, even amid oppression, darkness and abominable leadership.”
Bad-ass…Outrageously snarky lampoon of the colonial impulse…From the show’s opening number ‘White People on Boats’ to the cheeky finale about the world ‘getting browner’ Aztec revels in a beyond-gaudy vibe that pivots from vulgar to the revolutionary. Take-no-prisoners sarcasm suffuses the world premiere musical, which mixes low-brow humor with high-minded ideas about the conquest of the Aztecs by the Spanish in 1560…The music is dope…the score that keeps this picaresque romp grooving along with its intoxicating blend of Afro-Latino sounds from reggaeton and salsa to gospel.”
Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
A vibrant production that has [Tony] Taccone hallmarks of a cheeky political surface and subtle historic depth…Though Leguizamo does not appear in the production, his steely, satiric spirit infuses the play…Though Kiss My Aztec! is played for laughs and there are many, the play brings the past to the present showing us where we ought to go as much as where we’ve been. The suppression of people’s dignity and sovereignty will always breed contempt, resentment and resistance. ‘The world is getting browner!’ the ensemble chants at the end. That’s not a warning. It’s an affirmation.”
San Francisco Chronicle
Sassy, rollicking, take-no-prisoners, equal-opportunity entertainment…[Tony] Taccone, in his final production as artistic director, referees a tight ensemble of talented clowns, most of whom get spotlight moments. Richard Henry Ruiz generates freewheeling mayhem as the coca-addled political fixer Pierre Pierrot, and Zachary Infante spins fawning obsequiousness into seething comic gold as the scheming prince Fernando. Desiree Rodriguez aces the comic voluptuary as a willful, waiting-to-be-ruined princess Pilar, and Al Rodrigo channels Harvey Korman-grade self-delusional swagger as her viceroy father, who relentlessly misnames Maria-Christina Oliveras as Tolima, the salty seer with wonderfully deadpan timing. In the romantic spotlight, Joél Pérez charms completely as sock-puppeteer Pepe, the ‘Punk Ass Geek-a’ enamored of aspiring warrior woman Yani Marin as Colombina.”
San Francisco Examiner
Official trailer: Kiss My Aztec!
Get a glimpse at this new musical comedy with book by John Leguizamo and Tony Taccone!
Behind the scenes: Maija García
Kiss My Aztec! choreographer Maija García talks abut how the show reflects the cultural identity of the Latinx community by fusing salsa, hip hop, and many more dance and music styles.
Behind the scenes: John Leguizamo and Tony Taccone
Get an introduction to Kiss My Aztec! with creators John Leguizamo and Tony Taccone.
REPISODES: The Berkeley Rep Podcast presents a series of conversations with artists and experts around the shows in our 50th anniversary season. Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or SoundCloud to keep up with the whole series.
Photos courtesy of Kevin Berne and Alessandra Mello/Berkeley Repertory Theatre
Photos may not be used for commercial or personal use without written permission from Berkeley Rep, and unauthorized alteration, reproduction, or sale of these images is strictly prohibited. Journalists and other members of the media, please visit our online press room.
Docent talks and discussions
Pre-show docent talks
Meet us in the Theatre 55 minutes before the show on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings and Sunday matinees for an engrossing presentation about your subscription-season play. Hear about the playwright’s perspective, dive into the historical context, and discover why the script is relevant right now. Each 25-minute talk includes plenty of time for your questions.
Post-show docent-led discussions
Join your fellow audience members after all matinees and share your thoughts on the show.
Page to Stage
Every season, Berkeley Rep hosts Page to Stage, a series of free discussions with eminent theatre artists, designed to give audiences additional insight into the plays and playwrights produced at Berkeley Rep. Past programs have featured theatre luminaries such as Tony Kushner, Mary Zimmerman, Emma Rice, and Mira Nair.
- Monday, April 15, 2019
Resident Dramaturg Madeleine Oldham leads a conversation in the Roda Theatre with playwrights John Leguizamo and Tony Taccone about their uproarious new musical, Kiss My Aztec!
Page to Stage starts at 7pm and runs about 60 minutes. The lobby opens at 6pm, and doors to the Theatre open at 6:30pm for seating. Berkeley Rep donors at the Contributor level or higher ($150+) enjoy preferred seating. For more information about Page to Stage or how to become a donor, please email email@example.com.
Teen Night gives local teens the opportunity to meet for dinner and a behind-the-scenes discussion with a member of the artistic team before attending each subscription-season production at an extremely discounted price.
- Friday, May 31, 2019
Teen Night begins at 6:30pm at the Berkeley Rep School of Theatre. Learn more and reserve your space.
Actor Q & A’s
Stick around after the show on select Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday nights for lively Q & A sessions with our artists.
- Thursday, June 20, 2019
- Tuesday, June 25, 2019
- Friday, July 12, 2019