[NoHo Arts District, CA] – A NoHo Arts theatre review of CASA 0101 Theater‘s production of Corina: From Lap Dance to Sundance, written by Corina Calderon, directed by Emmanuel Deleage, and running through December 17.
Sometimes, very occasionally, I have the blissful opportunity to witness the development of a special play. To see something at its inception, just emerging, just becoming, and then later, after years of development, I am able to see it again as something more. Something bigger, more fully explored, more fully realized. Corina: From Lap Dance to Sundance is such a play.
I saw it in its rawest form as a solo show at the Hollywood Fringe a few years ago and was absolutely blown away by the story, the brutally beautiful delivery of it, and of course by the writer and performer of her own incredible life, Corina Calderon. Ms Calderon has spent the last few years expanding and rewriting the show into a full-length play with a large cast and a larger story. But the essence of this remarkable journey is the same.
We follow Corina from her childhood in Texas with parents who struggle and fight and a beloved grandmother and sisters who hold her together. As she grows, through school and attending her father’s music concerts, she watches her mother work two jobs and sometimes more to make ends meet. But Corina is always searching, finding a place in her community, facing her anger, her feelings of isolation and abandonment. Always knowing she was meant for something more than where she was, more than babies and family and regular jobs. Never quite feeling that she fit in with her home state, her expectations conflicting with what was expected of her. She worked for years as an exotic dancer, making the money she needed to take acting classes and headshots, finding her inner strength and her dignity alongside other remarkable women in a place you might not expect her to. Determined to make her place in the world and to ultimately live her dream as a working actress in Los Angeles.
After working in film in Texas she landed a starring role in a movie that ended up in the Sundance Film Festival and really put her on the map. But although the success is wonderful, hard fought and much deserved, it is the story of her life to this point that makes this play so good.
The characters are searingly real, they are her family and her friends and Ms Calderon holds nothing back as she shares pivotal moments, epiphanies, heartbreak and triumphant moments in her fascinating life.
There’s a poetry to this play. Amongst the memories and the reenactments, the turning points and the darkness. She has a way of being lyrical without seeming theatrical and the combination of the subject and the actors and the words create something quite brilliant and inspiring.
Corina Calderon is unique, in the truest sense of the word. She has that indefinable something that holds your gaze on stage. She’s beautiful, but there’s more to it. She has grace and a fierce strength to her and it is utterly riveting.
The characters are all wonderfully played by this very fine group of actors. Really there are some truly excellent and at times astonishing performances. How mesmerizing it must be for her to see herself played by three different actors. And while Corina narrates this story, she also takes part in the action. As our guide, she is able to move back and forth between the present, the past and herself. I wonder what it must feel like to see your life being played out by someone else at every stage?
Casa 0101 has a reputation for staging innovative and transformative original work. Corina: From Lap Dance to Sundance is another gift to the community of Boyle Heights and Los Angeles theatre with the wonderful direction of Emmanuel Deleage. It’s a very special place, the theatre itself has heart and it always seems to be filled with community and family and a creative and vibrating energy that only adds to the performances.
I highly recommend Corina: From Lap Dance to Sundance. It plays until December 17 and is an absolutely hilarious, moving and gorgeously written opus on Ms Calderon’s brilliant life so far….bravo!
Through December 17
Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 4pm
Casa 0101 Theatre
2102 East First Street Boyle Heights, CA 90033
Johnny Ortiz as Chris, Alfonso, Acting Coach and Manager; Leslie Montoya as Teen Corina; Karla Oleda as Corina’s Mom; Alex Miramontes as Corina’s Father, Corina’s Grandpa Fred and Juan; Julieta Ortiz as Corina’s Grandma and Tía Juanita; Sophia Arroyo as Young Corina; Gabriela Bañuelos as Anastasia and Ensemble; Diana Cruz as Mari and Ensemble; Meir Flores as Josie, Carla, Mimi and Ensemble; Natalie Heredia as Nani and Roselin; Jesus Tadeo Rodriguez as Joe and Oscar Basulto Understudy for Corina’s Father, Corina’s Grandpa Fred and Juan. Oscar Basulto will perform on Friday, December 1, 2023 only.
The production team for CORINA: FROM LAP DANCE TO SUNDANCE includes: Josefina López, Founding Artistic Director, CASA 0101 Theater; Emmanuel Deleage, Director, Producer and Executive Director, CASA 0101 Theater; Itzel Ocampo Associate Producer and CASA 0101 Theater Office Administrator); Edward Padilla Casting Director and CASA 0101 Board Member; César Retana-Holguín Set Designer; Kevin Eduardo Vasquez Lighting Designer; Abel Alvarado; Costume Designer; Omar Gutierrez Hair and Make-Up Designer; Nick Wass Projection Designer; Bianca Soto Choreographer; Marc Antonio Pritchett Fight and Intimacy Coordinator; Channing Whisnant Stage Manager; Alicia Mejia Assistant Stage Manager; Velia Arroyo Assistant Stage Manager; Lorena M. Ortega Production Coordinator; Miguel Delgado CASA 0101 Theater Technical Director; Doreen Marie Sanchez Prop Master; Gabriela López de Dennis, Soap Studio Inc. Program; Jorge Villanueva Maintenance; Mark Kraus, CASA 0101 Theater Development Director and Webmaster; Conrado TerrazasCross Development Consultant; Oscar Basulto Box Office; Al Aguilar Set Builder/Scenic Assistant; Rosa Navarrete Social Media; Rudy Torres Production Photographer and Steve Moyer Public Relations, Press Representative