Teatro ECAS presents “Love, Magic, Humor and Tenderness” (La Ternura)

Theater Review by IDA ZECCO
Posted 3/27/24

Teatro ECAS, New England’s Spanish language theater, presents the United States premiere of La Ternura , written by Alfredo Sanzol and directed by Basilio Álvarez with music by Gabriel …

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Teatro ECAS presents “Love, Magic, Humor and Tenderness” (La Ternura)


Teatro ECAS, New England’s Spanish language theater, presents the United States premiere of La Ternura, written by Alfredo Sanzol and directed by Basilio Álvarez with music by Gabriel Figueroa, March 21 - 31, 2024. The play features Francis Parra, Emeyra de Jesus, Jennifer Moreta, Carlos Dominguez, Johnny Paulino and the return of internationally-renowned actor Francisco Gattorno.

La Ternura is a captivating tale of magic and destiny. An Elizabethan-inspired production about Woodcutters and princesses, brilliantly and ingeniously brimming with humor. Envision a life of freedom, away from men (which is the intent of Queen Esmeralda for herself and her daughters), but destiny has other plans. Queen Esmeralda and her princess daughters, Rubi and Salmon, unknowingly choose an island inhabited by a Woodcutter, El Lenador Marron, and his sons, Verdemar and Azulcielo, who’ve vowed to shun women. As their worlds collide, La Ternura weaves a tale of gender, isolation, and the unpredictability of life’s course.

In an interview, playwright Alfredo Sanzol explains: “La Ternura is a romantic adventure comedy in which I try to tell that we cannot protect ourselves from the damage that love produces. That if we want to love we have to risk suffering. And parents cannot protect their children from the suffering of life because that endangers the experience of a full life. The show is called La Ternura because it talks about the strength and courage to express love. Tenderness is the way in which love expresses itself. Without tenderness, love is not seen. Tenderness is caresses, listening, small gestures, smiles, kisses, waiting, respect, delicacy. A society without tenderness is a society at war.”

Teatro ECAS’ Artistic Director, and featured actor in the play Francis Parra adds, “La Ternura is a work that, not by simple chance, has been on the Madrid theater billboard for 7 years. It is a text written with poetic language, in a very funny tone, in the best style of Shakespeare’s sitcoms and the Spanish Golden Age. A work full of dialogues that give elegance and value to our Spanish language.” Parra plays a brilliant Queen Esmaralda as she attempts to shield her daughters from men with her plethora of creative plans. 

Princesses Rubi and Salmon, the Queen’s daughters, played by Emeyra De Jesus and Jennifer Moreta are enchanting, funny and captivating in their roles as they try to adhere to their mother’s plans while struggling with their own hearts’ desires. It is when the three women decide to disguise themselves as shipwrecked soldiers in order to hide their identity from the Woodcutter and his sons that Queen Esmeralda’s plans begin to unravel.

Francisco Gattorno’s insouciant Woodcutter,  El Leñador Marrón, is a perfect match to Parra’s fiery Queen Esmeralda.  Their steadfast resolve to protect their children backfires in the most wonderful ways. Their performances are both engaging and charming as even the best laid plans of their own making dissolve before them.

Johnny Paulino as the handsome, macho Verdemar and sweet, innocent Carlos Dominguez as his younger brother, Azulcielo, provide side-splitting performances. The raucous hilarity results when the Verdemar and Azulcielo begin to question their own sexuality and sanity when they find themselves strangely attracted to the shipwrecked soldiers.

The entire ensemble is thoroughly entertaining in both their endearing depiction of their characters and their spot-on comedic timing.

The set design, a forest created from muslin, tissue paper and glue with dazzling lighting created the perfect backdrop of this production!

Even if you do not speak or understand Spanish, the super-titles screen with English sub-titles of the play’s dialogue, perched above the stage, is unobstructive and does not diminish the audience experience. This reviewer strongly encourages other actors, students of the performing arts and those who enjoy great theater, to run, not walk to the ECAS box office. The play runs through March 31.  Do not miss this production! It is thoroughly enjoyable!

When:   Through March 31
Thursday & Friday 7 pm
Saturday at 3 & 7pm
Sunday at 3pm
Special Student Matinees:
Thurs., March 21 & 28 at 9 a.m.

Where:  Teatro ECAS
679 Valley St.
Providence, Rhode Island 02908

Tickets:  Starting at $30
Available at www.teatroECAS.org


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