"El Zorro!" is a hero for all
A Review of the UNCW Theatre Department's "El Zorro!"
Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Updated: Saturday, October 20, 2012 19:10
“Viva ElZorro!” That’s the first thing you learn when you step into the lobby of the Cultural Arts Building before a performance of “El Zorro!” the theatre department’s latest, family-friendly play.
The cast brings the story of the masked crusader to life before the play even begins. Men and ladies dressed in ponchos, sombreros, vests, corsets, huge skirts and linen pants greet the audience in the lobby to talk to them about what has been happening in “the pueblo of Los Angeles.”
A townsperson named Phillipe (Sloan Friedman) said there was a hero among the people named El Zorro (Quinten Johnson) and that when his name was mentioned, everyone must shout “Viva El Zorro!” The lobby was filled with the voices of English and Spanish dialects shouting the words. In addition, the entire cast sings “No Nos Moveran” which translates to “we will not be moved,” encouraging the audience to sing along with the title words.
The cast’s interaction with the audience set the tone for the show in general. It was a comedic, at times goofy retelling of the famous vigilante. In this rendition, Zorro must save his love, Elena Escalante (Haley Alber), from the Alcalde, who is using her as a trap for the hero.
Johnson’s Zorro is proficient at sword fighting, but at times it was hard to hear what he was saying. When he was audible, his accent was not as strong as others in the show. However, his charm and fancy footwork in the action scenes make up for his less authentic accent.
The villain of the night, sinister Senior Rodríquez (Cabot Basden) known as “the Alcalde” to the townspeople, also had a pre-determined reaction from the audience. With the mention of his name or any sign of trouble, the audience swayed from side to side saying “ooh” and “ahh.” Basden terrified (and caused laughter) by keeping his eyes fixed on one spot as he moved across the stage.
The show was stolen, however, by the spirited chorus, who kept the pace of the show with their comedic timing and corny jokes. Classic slapstick moments, like a bumbling henchman (Nick Reed) trying to carry swords and failing, add to the hilarity of this family comedy.
Running at only 45 minutes, the show is a delight for families looking for a good time this weekend. The well-staged sword fights add some action to the laughter, and some very funny moments make this show well worth it.
“El Zorro!” runs in the SRO Theatre Oct. 18-21 at 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, with matinees at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $12 for the general public, $10 for UNCW faculty and alumni, and $5 for students and children.