He's an arrogant, rich caballero. She's an independent Yankee pioneer. Together, they're Benedick and Beatrice, the opposites who attract in East L.A. Classic Theatre's mariachi-spiced version of Shakespeare's romantic comedy "Much Ado About Nothing."
Created by Bert Rosario, who adapted the play, and director Tony Plana -- in collaboration with Jose Hernandez of Mariachi Sol de Mexico -- this abridged, family-friendly production will be presented to 1,500 fourth- to eighth-graders next Monday at the historic Art Deco Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro. General audiences can catch the show first, in a public matinee at the theater Sunday at 3 p.m. (Admission is free but reservations are required.)
In this colorful retelling, Shakespeare's comedy is set in 1872 California after the Battle of Puebla and the restoration of a Mexican republic -- the event celebrated as Cinco de Mayo. The romantic plot plays against the clash of cultures that was altering California's social and economic landscape.
"The male characters are all Mexican soldiers, and the females, Beatrice and her family, are Yankee settlers, who were gold-rushers here in California," says Plana, executive artistic director of East L.A. Classic Theatre (ECT).