November 2009, Volume 13, Number 8

Cultural Spotlight

Kendall theater no laughing matter

Laughs come first this fall at MDC’s Kendall Campus theater, which kicked off another promising season with the premiere of The Virgin of Little Havana, a new comedy by local playwright and MDC alumnus Hector Pino. Set in 1984, the play deals with the travails of a 14-year-old as her family attempts to settle into Miami four years after arriving from Mariel.

“Aside from being a farce of telenovelas and dysfunctional families, the play is also about strange spiritual synchronicity,” Brad Beckman, its director and MDC adjunct faculty, said.

Synchronicity, incidentally, played a role in the circumstances that brought the work to the stage. Beckman first came across the play while teaching a class at MDC’s Florida Center for the Literary Arts. Pino was his student.

The second work in the Kendall Campus theater schedule is Neil Simon’s Broadway smash Come Blow Your Horn, directed by theater professor Deborah Mello.

In this 1961 romp, the Baker brothers enjoy their status as bachelors to riotous results, while their horrified parents are reduced to watching and praying in passive resignation.

But there is nothing passive about the students’ role in their theater program, for they are truly the ones that come first.

“We focus on casting from the local pool of enrolled students, which lets them know they are a more functional part of the department,” Beckman said. “The program belongs to them.”

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