Musical company

ANNA IN THE TROPICS at Barrington Stage Company

Marina Pires, Gabriela Saker, Blanca Camacho and
Alex Rodriguez. Photo: Daniel Rader

The Anne referenced in the title is not that of the kingdom of Siam, but that of Tolstoy. One might not immediately consider a multitude of similarities between a group of Hispanic Americans in the 20th century and the Russians of the previous century. This is precisely one of the key points, if not the key point, of this rich, multi-layered and superb production that BSC artistic director Julianne Boyd waited two years to bring to the Berkshires.

In 1929, a handsome reader arrives at one of the last remaining Cuban cigar factories in Tampa to entertain the workers as they hand-roll cigars. But when the reader begins to read Anna Kareninathe passionate and frustrated lives of the characters in the book begin to resemble those of the listeners, leading to jealousy, betrayal, and sexual arousal.

Review: ANNA IN THE TROPICS at Barrington Stage Company
Alex Rodriguez.
Photo: Daniel Rader

Cuban-American playwright Nilo Cruz was the first Latino to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for this wonderfully sensual and evocative play. This production is masterfully directed by Elena Araoz. During the well-paced performance, the characters act out a multitude of scenarios that should be familiar and cause audience members to consider topics/themes including, but not limited to:

  • The dynamics and roles within the so-called norms of a largely patriarchal society.
  • Embrace change as evolutionary or fear it and cling to the comfort of old ways in thhe face of the new.
  • Whether by the heart or by the head.
  • We can pretend to listen, but do we really hear?
  • You can be a gifted speaker, but do you say what you want to say, or what you think is necessary to achieve a particular result?
  • The innocence and naivety of youth that fades and becomes desensitized to the complexities of adulthood
Review: ANNA IN THE TROPICS at Barrington Stage Company
Marina Pires and Wilson Jermaine Heredia
Photo: Daniel Rader

ANNA IN THE TROPICS stars Blanca Camacho as Ofelia, Alexis Cruz as Cheché, Gilbert Cruz as Santiago, Wilson Tony Award winner Jermaine Heredia as Paloma/Eliades, Marina Pires as Conchita, Alex Rodriguez as Juan Julian and Gabriela Saker as Marella. Each displays individual talent and prowess that are amplified as a whole.

The creative team includes Justin Townsend (Scenic Designer), Christopher Vergara (Costume Designer), J. Jarad Janas (Wig, Hair & Makeup Designer), Maria-Christina Fuste (Lighting Designer), Nathan Leigh ( sound designer). Jason Brouillard (production manager), Rachel Lynne Harper (assistant manager). McCorkle Casting Ltd. (casting director). Their work is of the highest standard and supports the performance extremely well, and seamlessly.

Review: ANNA IN THE TROPICS at Barrington Stage Company
Gabriela Sacker
Photo: Daniel Rader

As my niece, about half my age, and I compared our thoughts after the performance; it soon became clear, there’s a lot to like here for a large and diverse audience. ANNA IN THE TROPICS is something like a well curated and presented collection of timeless yet universal themes. Coming close enough to the proverbial, perhaps lofty goal of having something for everyone. One thing we’ve agreed on is that ANNA IN THE TROPICS is the latest in a long line of high-caliber professional theater in the Berkshires this summer.

Performances are Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:00 p.m., Thursday through Saturday at 8:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 2:00 p.m., and Sunday at 5:00 p.m. on the Boyd-Quinson Stage at the Barrington Stage Company (30 Union Street). Tickets: $20 – $85. The show lasts 2 hours and 20 minutes in two acts with intermission. Another welcome throwback to the past before most performances started showing in around 90 minutes.