CHEYANNE – Written by Cipriano Ortega; Directed by Phil Luna.  Produced by Control Group Productions (Presented at the People’s Building, 9995 East Colfax, Aurora) through May 5. Tickets available at thepeople’ 

What an absolute joy it must be to have your first actual play find its voice and tell your story! Cipriano Ortega is a local actor who has worked for a long time on this script and finally sees it through to finish. And then act in it himself and speak the words he worked on for so long. Congratulations, Cipriano! He has had the added joy of performing with and writing for his friends who join him in the cast. 

Angel Mendez Soto is a steadfast member of the Su Teatro company and has graced dozens of scripts with them. As a stage elder, he continues to bring meaningful characters to life with ease. In this tale, he plays the father of Cheyanne, confined to her apartment by physical impairment and creeping dementia. A fine artist who could not make a living for his family in that field, he turned instead to painting houses for most of his life. Now in his dotage, he can’t stop painting all the walls he sees – even in their living room. Angel gives his character dignity, affection and understanding for his daughter and a righteous opinion about everything left in his life. 

Angel is joined by Iliana Lucero Barron, well known to Curious and BETC audiences, as Cheyanne, a noted fine artist who, for some unknown reason, thinks it’s a good idea to “collaborate” on a painting with her boyfriend. As soon as she finishes one section, he comes to the canvas and paints over it or “fixes” it. Whoever thought that would be a good idea?? She contains her frustration (barely) and there seems to be very little love left in their relationship or partnership in paint. She is irritated all the way through the evening, except with her father, then has a marvelous breakthrough right at the very end of the story. 

Both of the painters, Cheyanne and her boyfriend, are represented by an art agent and gallery owner played over-the-top by Megally Luna. This is a real break from the ordinary for Megally whose characters are usually either distressed or comforting, played with sweetness and heart. Her part in this play brings out her saucy side with her flamboyant clothing, her compulsion toward the bottom line (money, not art), and her two-faced approach to her problems with these two painters who don’t seem to be able to finish anything. She’s a hoot every minute she’s on stage and provides the catalyst for the final showdown. 

Cipriano plays the boyfriend himself and gives a touching performance of one who really seems to care for Cheyanne, but is getting frustrated by her plow-ahead attitude when all he’s really interested in is painting what the gallery wants and getting the money. Oh, and marrying the girl might be kind of nice too. He’s caring with the father, but the father sees through it to his true motives. I got the sense that he was on the down slope of this career while Cheyanne was on the rising side of hers. 

The four of them tell an interesting story of family commitment, art vs. Industry, ambition vs. surrender. The story could be a sharp saucy story told in about 40 minutes or so; the current production runs for a normal length two act play which seemed a little stretched out for the dialogue that needed to happen. I like it that the cast is comfortable with no dialogue for stretches at a time while action only with no words is taking place on stage. It’s hard to be on stage and not talking; these guys make it work. But the bottom line is that the whole show comes down to a one-word sight gag that we never see. Is that enough of a mystery to pique your interest?? Come on down to the People’s Building this weekend and see for yourself. 

A WOW factor of 8.25 !! 

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