by Beki Pineda

NORTHSIDE – Written by Bobby LeFebre; Directed by Hugo E. Carbajal. Produced by Su Teatro (721 Santa Fe Drive, Denver) through July 21. Tickets available at 303-296-0219 or suteatro.org.

YEA for Su Teatro!! Their current production of NORTHSIDE is a jumping up and down screaming success — and it deserves to be. Su Teatro has a legacy of passionately produced and performed plays. The sincerity and authenticity with which they tackle the tough issues of their community overcomes the lack of a complicated set and the clothes pulled from the actor’s closets. Tony Garcia and his loyal followers bring such passion to their story-telling, it’s easy to overlook the usual trappings.

But NORTHSIDE is so well written by Bobby LeFebre (who should be teaching classes in how to write dialogue) and well acted by a professional authentic cast led by Mr. Carbajal that all reservations about “production values” go out the window. This clever story illustrates in clear terms the TINK (two incomes, no kids)  encroachment into Denver’s traditionally ethnic neighborhoods – a problem not unique to Denver. You’d see it as you drive up Navajo or Zuni with modern box dwellings cheek to jowl with older Denver Squares. My own North Denver home (42nd and Irving) was sold in 1989 for $69,500 and is now valued at over $625,000 – with nothing substantial done to the outside. That noise you hear is me kicking myself.

But this situation is exactly the problem reflected in LeFebre’s script. One Hispanic (or LatinX) couple (Molly Gallegos and Ben Martinez) who have history in the neighborhood want to buy the house of a widow selling her long time family home. Their competition is another young couple (Cary Seston and Seth Palmer Harris) who insist they are moving into “LoHi” and have as much right as anyone to “integrate” the neighborhood. Their mutual conversation with their respective realtors is most enlightening. Seth and Cary are so over-the-top obnoxious (and clueless) yuppies that you really can’t get mad at them. Audience favorite Yolanda Ortega plays the Widow Lujan with Angel Mendez Soto as her deceased husband who returns to assist her with the emotional difficulties of the sale. Phil Luna and Iliana Barron brought a cool professionalism to their roles as dueling realtors with a little #MeToo action thrown in. But the all too familiar put-downs of the neighborhood and the culture certainly elicited verbal responses from the sold out audience.

That was another thing that made this such an enjoyable theatre evening. The audience – which obviously contained multiple members from the hood – were delightfully verbal in their pleasure and displeasure. Between scenes a giant screen upstage displayed a view out the window of a moving car as it drove through the Northside neighborhood and past well known shops and restaurants. People responded as they recognized these familiar sights and audibly groaned when one of the modernly designed architectural misfits filled the screen. Conversations in the script that mentioned places like Chubby’s, Patsy’s, Pagliacci’s, Elitch Gardens – all places that elicit pleasurable memories – were greeted with cheers. The evening bordered just shy of a tent revival with its audience participation.

While the remainder of the original run is sold out, the good news is that they have added ten additional performances from July 11 through the 21. For all of you who couldn’t get tickets the first time around or those of you who want to revisit this touching funny show, here’s  your chance. Take It!!

A WOW factor of 9!!