Spanish cuisine

White Boy

By Michael Patrick Spillers
Directed by Robert Crest
Wings Theatre Company
154 Christopher St. (627-2960)
Equity showcase (closes Dec. 28)
Review by Jade Esteban Estrada

Wings Theatre is well-known for their new gay plays series and has been home to burgeoning works for many years in Greenwich Village. Although their production of Michael Patrick Spillers' White Boy didn't show their theatrical might at its very best, it did showcase hot, new talent and a one-man show-saving machine.

The protagonist, David (Michael Vacarro), has just learned of the death of his father in Missouri and has decided to go home for the funeral. Living in West Hollywood as a struggling poet, he is obsessed with the "cholo" type of Mexican-American gang members who frequent the area. He falls in love with one in particular and loses him over the Latin lover's fear of being labeled as gay.

The play follows a show-within-a-show format, which at times seemed muddled and lacking in justification. Despite the nonexistent staging by director Robert Crest, the cast did its best to work through a script that almost seems to be intended as a one-man show. Several times during the evening, it seemed as if the show was interrupting itself with superfluous bits and unresolved story lines.

Vacarro had the immense job, as the show's lead, of making the script come together on his own. Known to audiences primarily as a seasoned, three-time-MAC-nominated cabaret performer, he seemed right at home with audience interaction. His showmanship was superb and appreciated, and a spur-of-the-moment drag act showcased his comedic skill brilliantly.

Kevin Prowse portrayed Lobo, the object of David's desire. He played his role solidly and organically, although during his first kissing scene it seemed as if the actor was passionately kissing Vaccaro's cheek.

Rocco, portrayed by doe-eyed Rafael Luna, has one of the more interesting story lines in the show, although not related to the main plot. In a manner reminiscent of A Chorus Line, he is a struggling actor who finds himself in front of a casting agent who never seems to find him as the "right type." Luna then turns to modeling for pornographic publications. The disrobed dance segment that illustrated the scene was simple and profound.

Ricky Valdez played the role of Wally, a dancer at the club. The Mexican actor is an outstanding dancer and had some funny moments.

The best part of the show by far was the effortless monologue given by the very powerful Victor Rasuk, who played the role of Junior. His entrances and moments onstage were honest and refreshing.

Nathaniel Nicco-Annan choreographed several basic dance sequences to high-energy dance music (not credited in the program) that went on a bit too long. Tom Claypool's costume designs were plain and to the point, and Cindy Shumsey's lighting design was supportive of the scenes. Sarah Kirchener's uninspired scenic design was dry and depressing, which suited David's despair.

Although it is wonderful when all of the elements in the production of a show are duly in place, it's a New York reality that that doesn't always happen. Spillers's play deals with the various issues of racism, sexuality, and fantasy, although in this production of the show, it was easy to miss the themes entirely. In such cases, a production needs not good actors, but great ones.

 Box Score:

Writing: 0
Directing: 0
Choreography: 1
Acting: 2
Sets: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2002 Jade Esteban Estrada