‘Antona Garcia’ debut a hilarious, exciting romp

Stephanie Allen

Do a Google search on “Antona Garcia,” and the first result will be from the Grand Valley State University theater department – and for good reason.

With help from theater professors Karen Libman and James Bell and Spanish professor Jason Yancey, the talented group of students is making history that the GVSU community should not miss out on enjoying the first-ever English adaptation of the classic Spanish drama.

For a play that’s more than 400 years old and with a lead actress that’s new to the theater stage, it conjures up more than just a good show — it provides romance, sympathy and of course many great laughs.

The beautiful and courageous Antona is portrayed as a strong and confident patriot by Genesis Loza, who had very little previous acting experience and nothing to base her character off of.

Because this is the first English adaptation, none of the student actors had anything to base their characters off of, but they managed to develop them in an exciting and enjoyable way that kept the audience’s attention throughout both acts of last weekend’s performances.

Bell and Yancey worked together to translate the play into a hilariously entertaining and action-packed adventure, so that even without knowing any Spanish, audience members will always understand what’s happening.

Even with the two “entremeses” — or short skits before both acts — performed completely in Spanish, the over-the-top acting of Yancey’s 12 Spanish students allows for complete comprehension.

Several well-rehearsed fight scenes with swords, sticks, fists and even frying pans are full of energy and sometimes appear to be actually dangerous. And for a woman, Antona really knows how to knock the sexist soldiers out with her tantalizing tricks.

But it isn’t all action, there’s a little bit of romance too.

The show opens up with Antona’s wedding, but her husband isn’t the only man who is in love with her. The daring rebel Conde, played by Chaz Bratton, never gives up fighting for Antona, feeding her quirky pickup lines and a series of compliments.

The love isn’t just between two humans though, one of the funniest scenes is where Bartolo, played by Matt Bozek, spills his love for his donkey that died. Bozek’s acting of the lonesome underdog character, who truly loved his animal, couldn’t be better.

The 7:30 p.m. Saturday show has been cancelled due to the Easter holiday, but there are still three performances this weekend: Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday at 2 p.m.

Jack Lane, the Louis Armstrong Theatre Box Office manager, said Monday in an email to students that tickets previously purchased for the cancelled show can be refunded or exchanged for an earlier showing.

Exchange or purchase tickets for the remaining shows through the Louis Armstrong Theatre Box Office, or purchase tickets at www.ticketmaster.com.

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