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
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?
John Leguizamo · Book / Lyricist
Tony Taccone · Book / Director
Benjamin Velez · Music / Lyricist / Arranger
David Kamp · Lyricist
Maija García · Choreographer
David Gardos · Music Supervisor
Simon Hale · Orchestrator
Wilson Torres · Percussion Arranger
Clint Ramos · Scenic/Costume Design
Alexander V. Nichols · Lighting Design
Jessica Paz · Sound Design
Amy Potozkin · Casting
Tara Rubin Casting · Casting
Xavier Rubiano · Casting
Madeleine Oldham · Dramaturg
Michael Suenkel · Production Stage Manager
Megan McClintock · Assistant Stage Manager
Lauren Cox · Associate Choreographer
Diggle · Associate Scenic Designer
Michelle Ridley · Associate Costume Designer
Beth Lake · Associate Sound Designer
Katie Craddock · Assistant Dramaturg
Jessica Berman · Dialect Coach
Sofie Miller · Production Assistant
Tanner Bryce Oertel · Production Assistant
Angelica Beliard · Ensemble
Chad Carstarphen · El Jaguar Negro / Reymundo
Lauren Cox · Swing
KC de la Cruz · Ensemble
Zachary Infante · Fernando / Sebastian / Ensemble
Yani Marin · Colombina
Jesús E. Martínez · Captain Soldier / Ensemble
Maria-Christina Oliveras · Tolima / Ensemble
Joél Pérez · Pepe
Al Rodrigo · Rodrigo / Ensemble
Desiree Rodriguez · Pilar / Ensemble
Richard Henry Ruiz · Pierre Pierrot / Ensemble
Kenji Higashihama · Music Director / Conductor / Keyboards
Juan Carreon · Drums / Percussion
Steve Danska · Guitar
Eric Price · Bass
Marvin McFadden · Trumpet
Dana Bauer · Reeds
Sean Kana · Contractor
JoAnn Kane Music/Russell Bartmus · Copyist
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
Behind the scenes: Benjamin Velez and David Kamp
Composer and lyricist Benjamin Velez and lyricist David Kamp discuss how they use current and traditional styles of music to connect Spanish and Aztec history with the modern world.
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
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