Review: ‘Trio Los Machos,’ together as one at Casa 0101 Theater
In Josefina Lopez’s “Trio Los Machos” at Caso 0101 Theater, an elderly guitar trio is fired from an East L.A. Mexican restaurant. As the men consider their options, one mentions a movie in which “two gringos” hire a woman singer. “No women,” the others object. Then bombshell Rosario (Claudia Duran) auditions, singing about her yearning for a “viejo” (old man).
But any expectation of a Mexican American version of “The Fabulous Baker Boys” is shattered by the next twist, which leaves group leader Lalo (Miguel Santana) debilitated, with only his squabbling fellow machos Paco (Henry Aceves Madrid) and Nacho (Roberto Garza) to care for him.
They have no health insurance or Social Security because, as a series of flashbacks shows, they came from Mexico as braceros, contract farm workers, during the 1942-64 exchange program. Played in their younger incarnations by Gilbert Rodriguez (Lalo), Adrian Quinonez (Paco) and Josh Duron (Nacho), they learned to sing together and fled the humiliations of bracero life.
As they reminisce, old truths come out. They actually hired a woman once before: Aurelia (the exceptional Rocio Mendoza), whose throaty allure set Nacho and Paco forever at odds.
Both the script and director Edward Padilla put a broad comic spin on the bleakest scenarios. The older men are adorable, and the younger ones have shy charisma. All are better singers than actors — and even their singing is often hesitant.
Playwright Lopez, best known for the play and film “Real Women Have Curves,” is the founding artistic director of Casa 0101. As the program explains, her father was a bracero, and the sweet, melancholy songs are by Trio Los Panchos, a group he loved. Although the production feels bumpy and under-rehearsed, its portrait of the trio glows with a deep and memorable sympathy.
“Trio Los Machos,” Casa 0101 Theater, 2012 E. 1st Street, Boyle Heights. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 5 p.m. Sundays. Ends July 8. $20. (323) 263-7684 or www.casa0101.org. Running time: 2 hours.
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