BUFFALO, NY (February 10th, 2016) -- This March, Raíces Theatre Company will stage its second full-length production of its 2015-16 season, The Happiest Song Plays Last by Quiara Alegría Hudes, directed by Victoria Pérez. This drama is a lyrical narrative spanning continents from a rundown neighborhood in North Philadelphia to a film set in the Middle East, drawing from themes of cultural identity and personal forgiveness. It is the final play in the playwright Hudes’ Elliot trilogy, including Elliot: A Soldier’s Fugue, which Raíces has previously produced as a staged reading.
The poetry of Hudes’ writing, as well as the way she infuses music into her plays, is what has drawn Raíces’ artistic director and co-founder Victoria Pérez to the playwright’s work. “Through her plays, she has put a Puerto Rican family up front and center without making it about them being Puerto Rican, but rather, human,” Pérez says. Pérez sees much of her own family in the play and its characters, including military veterans and musicians. The play is supplemented with jibaro music provided by a live band and driven by a cuatro, the national instrument of Puerto Rico. The Philadelphia setting also reverberates because of its similarities to Buffalo, which also has a large community of Puerto Ricans.
This is the third time that cast member Anthony Alcocer will play the leading part of Elliot, the one constant throughout Hudes’ trilogy. Alcocer appeared as Elliot in last year’s Water by the Spoonful, produced by Road Less Traveled Productions. Alcocer has enjoyed playing Elliot, whom he compares to ‘a good cocktail.’ “He’s a mix of magnetic charm and irresistible effervescence, which makes him hard to put down,” he says. “He’s a really fantastic illustration of how far some people can grow.” In previous Hudes plays, Elliot has struggled with both military service and drug addiction, and in The Happiest Song Plays Last he finds a way to bury some of the demons which have pursued him through his military service and return home. “As with most of the trilogy,” Alcocer says, “I truly believe that it is important for a person to lay aside their burdens and to rely on the support of family in order to stand your ground, lay down roots, and come to terms with who you really are.”
Western New York audiences will get one last chance to see the character of Elliot when The Happiest Song Plays Last opens at the Manny Fried Playhouse at Subversive Theatre in the Great Arrow Building, 255 Great Arrow Ave., on Friday, March 4th. Along with Alcocer, the play’s cast includes Rolando M. Gómez, Dewel Pérez, Ana Vafai, Marta Aracelis and Monish Bhattacharyya. Performances run for two weekends from March 4th to March 13th. Friday and Saturday performances are at 8 PM, Sunday performances are at 6 PM; there’s also one performance on Thursday, March 10th at 7:30 PM. Tickets are $18 and can be reserved by calling 716-238-1522 or by visiting raicestheatrecompany.com.