Virility Bites

Director Arthur Storch does an adequate job guiding a play that virtually stages itself, while James Tilton's set is marvelously accurate. If you've walked into any prosperous Cuban household in Kendall, you instantly will recognize this set's decor.

As Juancho, Abraham Alvarez performs realistically and admirably as a man absorbed by his own selfish needs and obsessed with public displays of masculinity. At the same time Alvarez manages to find the heart within Juancho, the love that saves him in the end. I am happy to report that two locally trained actresses play the principal female roles, and perform them very well. As the beleaguered Elsa, Loli Rainey is lovely and lovable, combining the maternal, nurturing instincts and intelligent grace of a woman such as the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Elsa is in no way a nouveau riche bimbo; Rainey makes her admirable, strong, and feminine at the same time.

Evelyn Perez takes a different approach to Nati, the total Nineties woman, coming off slightly masculine and a bit brash A but it's the perfect choice. Her corporate crispness and bottom-line mentality work beautifully against her mother's delicacy; together, mother and daughter unveil the many facets of the new, more independent female. Bjo/rn Johnson (Phil) and Frank Galgano (Johnny) do some fine acting in supporting roles. Only Lillian Hurst, as Belen, overemotes, turning a comic character into an often annoying caricature.

If I wanted to get picky, I would find greater fault with Santeiro's sloppy ending. Having written himself into a corner, he causes Juancho to have a complete change of heart without sufficient motivation. But there are too many laughs and delightful scenes in The Rooster and the Egg to condemn its contrived last five minutes. For Miami's Anglos, the play will allow them to laugh out loud at Latin idiosyncrasies without fear of reproach. For Latins, the play's theme may resonate after the laughter subsides, and result in contemplation and conversation. Even if Santeiro speaks only to Miamians in general and local Cuban Americans in particular, his voice is creative, important, and entertaining.

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