Heartfelt congratulations to the directors and cast of Zoot Suit at WWCC. Written for the stage by Luiz Valdez, the play was originally performed on Broadway (the first Chicano play performed there) in 1979. Of note, Edward James Olmos performed the lead role of El Pachuco. The story brings to life the Zoot Suit riots that began in Los Angeles in 1942, and the trial of the wrongly accused Pachuco gangsters.
Kevin Loomer and Assistant Director Jessica Barkl have taken a group of novice performers, and transformed them into an extremely successful and fully entertaining production.
Reading the program, one is immediately struck by the number of first-time performers. Of the 28 performers, some 15 are on the stage for the first time. Kevin Loomer brings an educational theater triumph to us. The lead male roles, El Pachuco played by Jonathan Avila and Henry Reyna played by Angelo Gray, are first-time performers.
Kevin Loomer's mastery of set design does not disappoint. He brings the audience immediately into the heart of the play with a cat walk that proceeds at least six rows into the audience. Many times throughout the show, the actors are on the end of that cat walk, speaking directly to the audience, casting them as the "jury" during the trial, tugging at our heart strings as Henry and his friends lament their jail terms, and as El Pachuco is accosted by a group of Marines.
Zoot Suit's message is dealing with racism and bigotry. The events of the play took place between 1942-1944, but the sentiments and values are just as strong and true today. Treat yourself to two hours of wonderful theater. See Zoot Suit at the WWCC Performing Arts Center Thursday through Saturday at 7 p.m. I plan to see it at least one more time! I cannot urge you enough to support this production ... it's much better than reruns on TV!