Even if you didn't know it, you've probably seen Josue Garcia around Miami — at El Tucán, Gramps, the Corner, on New Times' site — in or out of drag as half of the duo Juleisy y Karla. But with his new Microtheater Miami play, Garcia brings something new to the city: a one-man show that's uniquely him.
"It's called EL CHANCLETAZOOOOOOOO!!
For the gringos out there, a
"The name was born before the story because, well, I had a deadline," he explains, laughing. "It's basically about growing up in Hialeah and, really, is more about my mother and the building I grew up in and my neighbors. Everyone can relate to this if you've ever lived in an apartment complex or watched The Golden Girls, but it's very culturally significant and a specific lifestyle in Miami."
A narrative told through song and physical comedy, El Chancletazo tells the story of how Josue Garcia grew up in Hialeah to become Miami's beloved bearded
"It's basically my story of being a kid and growing up in this loud, rambunctious environment, where my mother is a really huge personality with a lot of nuances and funny idioms, and I get into a bunch of trouble before getting my ass out of Hialeah. And you think I would move to Beverly Hills, but really I moved to Overtown."
As he mimes a number of activities, including being hit with the titular object, Garcia explains that much of the show is pantomimed because it uses few props. "It's told in a very comedic way, and I play all of these characters. It's supposed to run for 15 minutes, but sometimes I'll ramble for 20," he says.
"It's a lot of physical comedy and audience interaction. Since you're in a shipping container, it's very intimate, so I'll call [viewers] by my character names and make them a part of the show. You're not just an audience member; you're sitting in my mother's living room, maybe as a kid version of Josue. They become a part of my life and they walk away with a piece of that."
The cozy space is entirely different from the massive productions Garcia helped create at El Tucán, where he worked in a number of roles, including production manager. "It's another part of my theater experience," he explains.
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For Garcia, this kind of performing is nothing new. Music was his first art: He played the piano and flute when he was young and later joined chorus, which led to acting thanks to school musicals. "What's more fun than watching a 13-year-old do No, No, Nanette's 'Tea for Two'?" he jokes. "But I was really in love with performing, and I still sing to this day. Drag actually happened by accident."
Being broke, wanting to explore different art, and being offered free drinks was how his drag career kicked off, but Garcia adds that this play isn't necessarily a reinvention of himself.
"I actually feel like I'm making my way full circle. I'm not starting something new, even though it may be new to an audience that's grown to love Karla. I'm going back to my roots."
El Chancletazo. Shows every half-hour from 8 to 11:30 p.m. Sundays through August 5 at Microtheater Miami, 1490 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-814-6151; microtheatermiami.com. Tickets cost $6 via tickets.microtheatermiami.com.