‘Olé’ garners laughs with racially inspired satire

Du'Praiseja Smith, Lenard Jackson and Nicole McGraw. By Luke Johnson
Luke Johnson
Du’Praiseja Smith, Lenard Jackson and Nicole McGraw.

The Los Medanos College Drama Department’s production of “Olé for Hollywood” impressed its audience opening night last Thursday, Oct. 15.

While the play started at 7:30 p.m., the show started beforehand while the attendees waited in line. There was a fake protest of the play while attendees stood in line and Kristina Cruz came out in character as Sofia Bigbrara to pose for a faux red-carpet photo shoot and thanked people for coming to the show. It seemed as though this was meant to entertain yet warn the audience of the edgy or “offensive” jokes to come, but the content of the play itself was tame.

It might have something to do with the fact that racially based satire has been at the forefront of the comedy world for a while now and so this type of humor is more common and less taboo now than in 1997 when the play first premiered.

Regardless of this fact, the play was well written and the performances were fantastic. The opening scene involved a musical performance from ”Spitbull” and “Me-yo” and it was somewhat awkward because it seemed that a few of the dancers were distracted by the actors dancing about as they were thrown off-rhythm for a moment. It was also extremely obvious that the actors were lip-syncing due to the quality of the audio, but Lenard “The Kyd” Jackson’s emphatic dancing made up for it.

Other than that, it was smooth production. It was hard to pick out a star because so many people played so many interesting characters but Claudia Vasquez impressed attendees with her portrayal of suave Antonio Bunderas which isn’t surprising considering she’s been great in every rolé I’ve seen her in.

After Alex DesJardin’s speech as Donald Chump, it was hard to decide whether or not to applaud because his portrayal was so eerily Donald Trump-esque and I swear this isn’t an insult, but if Terrence Allegre’s acting career doesn’t pan out, he’d make an excellent game show host.

This particular LMC production was different from the rest as it because it gave the award show theme more of an authentic feel by allowing the audience to participate. There was a short Q and A session after the play was over and one of the playwrights Cris Franco, came out to talk about why Olé was meaningful and acknowledged the hard work of the cast.

He noted that the play was updated for LMC. This particular version included more multi-ethnic parts and had updated celebrity references. Usually when a writer has to update something that originally came out a while ago, it’s painfully obvious. This production however, seemed like it was written for this time as we are still dealing with the same problems now as we were then.
There was also time allotted for last remarks from the cast which was unusual compared to the typical format but entertaining as “honorary Latino” Robert Dunn comically made valid points about the marginalization of Latinos not only in the fields of entertainment but also in general.

Overall, the play was a good blend of slapstick and intellectual comedy. It didn’t seem to offend the audience though but it did make them think which was the important part — getting the message. The play is relatable and applicable but it’s nice to see a play focused specifically on Latino stereotypes because often times, issues are reduced to black and white and we disregard the struggles of those who aren’t in either mode.

The performers put on a spectacular show and judging by the boisterous laughter filling the little theater, I’m not the only one who had a good time.