Thursday, May 24, 2018

“Arroyo’s” is a Great Place to Visit

Welcome to Arroyo's (Dave Hastings)
Welcome to Arroyo’s
Theater Schmeater
Through June 2, 2018

It’s hip hop and altruism and history and idealism and art. It’s finding out what you’re made of and finding out how to see what is offered right in front of you. It’s so many things rolled up into one small, delightful play: Welcome to Arroyo’s by Kristoffer Diaz, and it’s at Theater Schmeater, right now.

Expertly guided by director Jay O’Leary, this kick ass cast tells the story of a brother and sister reeling from the recent loss of their mother. The sister, Molly (Ashley Salazar), after years of hiding her graffiti-art-spraying identity, has suddenly started openly tagging, daring a local beat cop (Naa Akua) to arrest her. The brother, Alejandro (Tony Magana, Jr.), has turned his mother’s deli into a bar, in the tradition of “if you build it, they will come,” but so far no one’s coming.

Two budding DJs, Nel (Michael Cercado) and Trip (Richard Sean Glen), keep trying to convince him to add their hip hop flare to draw the neighborhood, but they have trouble getting through to Alejandro. Into the bar walks Lelly (Anasofia Gallegos) and Alejandro immediately wants to know what she thinks.
Lelly is on a particularly special quest, though: to prove that Alejandro and Molly’s mother could be one of the seminal historic founders of hip hop and the first female hip hopper who disappeared from the scene twenty years before – right when their mother opened the deli. In fact, Lelly has a picture that looks so much like Molly that even Molly agrees it could be her.

But Lelly isn’t quite brave enough to tell Alejandro the full truth of why she walked into his bar. So, what will happen when Alejandro finally hears the truth?

The rhythms of the script are short and sweet. The scenes are short, but punctuated like beats in a song. The story unfolds in tiny bursts like bites of an apple, one at a time.

Would it upset the siblings to find out their mother had a whole unshared past history? Is it really true? Has Lelly buried herself in the past in order to deflect from her discomfort with the present? Is Molly’s tagging “art” or defacing, and will the cop arrest her or date her?

Each of the characters is revealed distinctly enough to let us know them and understand them. Even the beat cop gets a back story about their name, Derek Jeter, which has caused them much misery in relation to the famous ball player. (Akua is cast to make this role deliberately gender-fluid. It’s not known if the script called for this or if this was a director choice.)

Arroyo’s is a great place to visit. It’s funny, bittersweet, and lightly introspective. Get to know it before it has to be turned into a megaplex, or something.

For more information, go to or call 206-324-5801. 

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