Reviewer: Howard Steven Frydman aka “The Howard”
Production: Kiss My Aztec!
Theater: The Hartford Stage
Book: John Leguizamo and Tony Taccone
Music: Benjamin Velez
Lyrics: David Kamp, Benjamin Velez and John Leguizamo
Director: Tony Taccone
Choreographed by: Mayte Natalio
The Howard’s Exhale – “Praise the Heaven’s Above – “Aztec!” is a Class Act – An Absolutely Az-mazing Stage Jubilee of Latino Culture!
Huzzah!!! “Pasarlo Pipa!” I am having a great time and in absolute heaven with John Leguizamo’s amazing new Musical Comedy celebrating Hispanic and Latin Culture- “Kiss My Aztec!! WOW!! Friends – “Aztec!” is a joyful technicolor- “Sunday Come to Meeting” Extravaganza, a totally “L.O.L.” (laugh out loud) and “R.F.B.” (ready for Broadway) filled production with vibrant songs and dance numbers that will have you on the aisles doing the merengue. “Aztec” is a zany mixture of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and “West Side Story” – with a touch of historic whimsy thrown in to boot. Having its East Coast Premiere and featuring the Pre-Broadway full cast – “Kiss My Aztec” is a “not to be missed” summer tryst at Connecticut’s premiere theater – Hartford Stage. “Kiss My Aztec”? Nah! We humbly kiss the hand of comedy legend and playwright, John Leguizamo – folks you will laugh your derriere off – see it before it goes to Broadway! It’s A Class Act!!
Friends- what caught my eye, firstly, besides the technicolored Aztec inspired costumes and graffitied backdrop by Scenic and Costume Designer Clint Ramos (me thinks a Tony is on its way Clint), is our jubilant cast – All – I say All our talented cast members, many who portray numerous characters throughout, are having a Pachenga (party) on stage, they are loving performing for us and it certainly translates to a most appreciative audience!! I usually wait till the end of my review to mention cast- but when one sees greatness, when the vocals and choreography is outstanding, ya just got to mention these remarkable Actors ASAP so here it goes – The cast includes Krystina Alabado, Angelica Maria Beliard, KC Dela Cruz , Chad Carstarphen Nicholas Caycedo , Eddie Cooper , Richard Ruiz Henry, Z Infante , Jesus E. Martinez, Maria-Christina Oliveras, Britany Nicole Williams, Geena Quintos, Desiree Rodriguez, Matt Saldivar, and that “Klown Prince” – Joel Perez with his sock puppets “Machu” and Picchu”. I don’t know when I have been so overjoyed in such a long time seeing such a “well-tuned cast” perform. By the way cast members- the next time I see you, it will hopefully be at the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade telecast performing “White People On Boats”.
Meet the Aztecs- they’re a page right out of history, circa 1600, Spain and their conquistadors, yep they came by boats, have come a knocking on the doors of Mesoamerica – looking to conquer this New World, a world with their own culture, laws, religious customs and rituals – be careful not to volunteer for the “ritual of the Corazon” by the way. Though defeated they are not out for the count- a resistance is forming! Holy Star Wars! The troop of Aztec resistance fighters await a sign – a RED SUN – which will signal a time to defeat the evil Viceroy and his Spanish Stormtroopers, and the opportunity to reclaim their land and culture. May the Cuarto be with them!!
Hey Chica- Hey Chico! At the heart of this story is romatica – a love story between a Warrior Rebel fighter “Colombina” (portrayed by Krystina Alabado) and her Comic hand puppet wearing Sidekick “Pepe”, (Joel Perez), who seek to unlock their love for each other (song-Chained Melody), while plotting and planning to take down the evil Spanish Viceroy’s (Matt Saldivar) citadel and return their beloved land to their people-the Aztecs. Along the way to the “big rumble in the jungle” we meet an assortment of zany characters including, the Mystic Aztec Witch Tolima (Maria-Christina Oliveras), Pilar (Desiree Rodriguez)- the “hot to trot” daughter of the Viceroy – (please note – I would love to see Pilar with more of singer/guitarist “Charo” personality- “Cuchi Cuchi), the Viceroy’s duplicitous son Fernando (Z Infante) -a wannabe gold lame pop star, and those two deliciously delightful hand puppets – yep the infamous “Machu” and Picchu”.
And now to the coveted “Howard Noticed You Awards” – they may not be “Tonys” but to get a “Howard” means you are talented and deserve proper notice. Please note this ENTIRE cast is extraordinary, yet we give special accolades to the following “oh so creative” cast members: Joel Perez as “Pepe” you sir are comedy personified- I so enjoyed your comedic escapades on stage – hard work does pay off!! Miss Maria-Christina Oliveras as the Aztec Witchipoo – you are absolutely enchanting! and lastly the gentleperson who “steals the show” whenever they appear on stage- Z Infante – you are a star indeed- we so enjoyed your thrilling “King of Pop” performance.
Music Filled, with memorable tunes – everything from Hip-hop, salsa, funk, gospel, ranchero to merengue, and oh those remarkable gala costumes to an evening of extraordinary performances. “Kiss my Aztec!” broadens our world and opens our minds – this production has it all and is simply not to be missed! Enjoy!
Running Time: Approximately 2 hours, 30 minutes, including one intermission. Content Advisory: this production contains bawdy humor, adult themes and language, haze and strobe lights.
Kiss My Aztec! – The production is set to run through June 26 with performances Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30pm; Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm; and Sunday matinees at 2pm. There are 2pm matinees on Wednesday, June 15 and Saturday, June 11 and 25. The Open Captioned performance is Sunday, June 19 at 2 pm. The Audio Described performance is Saturday, June 25 at 2 pm.
Tickets for Kiss My Aztec! are $30-$100 with discounts for students and groups. Tickets can be purchased by visiting HartfordStage.org, by calling (860) 527-5151, or by visiting the Hartford Stage Box Office at 50 Church Street, Hartford, CT from noon to 5pm.
Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at TheHoward24@gmail.com.