‘The House on Mango Street’ at The Classic Theatre

Salvador Valadez and Maria Ibarra (top center), Valentina Inez Barrera-Ibarra (right), Gabriel Sanchez (bottom left), Eraina Porres (front center), Joshua Segovia (bottom right). Photo by Siggi Ragnar.

This Friday September 2 is opening night of ‘The House on Mango Street’ at The Classic Theatre. This marks the beginning of Season 9 and promises to be an exciting one. ‘The House on Mango Street’ was adapted from Sandra Cisneros’ book by Amy Ludwig. It tells the story of Esperanza Cordero whose neighborhood is one of harsh realities and harsh beauties. She is determined to “say goodbye” to her impoverished neighborhood by turning to a life on the streets. Major themes include her quest for a better life and the promise she makes to come back for those she left behind. Esperanza is a young Latina coming into her power and finding out what she will become. It runs from Friday September 2 through Sunday September 25, 2016. Show times are Friday and Saturday at 8p.m. and Sunday at 3p.m.

The Classic Theatre dedicates this production to John Igo, a San Antonio legend and a dedicated patron of the arts. Ticket prices are $25 for general admission, $20 for senior, military, educator or SATCO and $10 for students. They may be purchased online or by calling the box office at (210) 589-8450. Season passes are also available and each includes 4 tickets to any show in the season line up. Tickets may be used for one show or throughout the season, using each ticket separately. Prices start at $90 with discount passes available for seniors, military and educators. On opening night guests can enjoy complimentary champagne and mango paletas. Following the Sunday September 18 show at 3p.m. Dr Patricia Portales, a San Antonio College English professor of Mexican American Literature, will facilitate a community conversation on ‘The House on Mango Street.’ (The Classic Theatre, 2016)

The Classic Theatre of San Antonio
1924 Fredericksburg Rd
San Antonio, TX 78201
(210) 589-8450


Nao Latin Gastro Bar to host five course dinner with Catena Zapata

Nao Latin Gastro Bar will host a five course dinner on Thursday September 8, 2016.

Nao Latin Gastro Bar is The Culinary Institute of America’s signature restaurant and next month it will host an exclusive dinner and educational seminar with vineyard director Luis Reginato of legendary winery Catena Zapata. This event is set for Thursday September 8 at 6:30p.m. Before the dinner Luis Reginato will host a short educational seminar on the winemaking philosophy of Catena Zapata. It will be followed by a five course dinner with dishes prepared by Executive Chef Zach Garza paired with some of the best wines from the Mendoza region of Argentina and will be poured by Luis Reginato. (Nao Latin Gastro Bar, 2016)

The menu for the evening will be as follows: Reception – Argentinian Empanadas paired with Catena Chardonnay 2014 – Mendoza. First course – Pumpkin Gnocchi paired with Catena Alta Chardonnay 2013 – Mendoza. Second course – Seafood Stew paired with Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino 2011 – Mendoza. Third course – Mixed Grill of Lamb, Beef, Chorizo, Blood Sausage, Sweetbreads, Grilled Onions, Peppers and Chimichurri paired with Nicolás Catena Zapata Red 2010 – Mendoza. Fourth course – Selection of cheeses paired with Catena Alta Malbec 2013 – Mendoza. Fifth course – Alfajores and Dulce de Leche – Coconut Ice Cream. The price for this dinner is $100 per person not including tax and gratuity. There are a limited number of seats available and reservations can be made by calling Nao Latin Gastro Bar.

Nao – Latin Gastro Bar
The Culinary Institute of America
312 Pearl Parkway, Building 2
San Antonio, TX 78215
(210) 554-6484

Book review: ‘The New Trail of Tears’ by Naomi Schaefer Riley

‘The New Trail of Tears’ by Naomi Schaefer Riley is an in-depth look at what life is like for the modern American Indian.

Naomi Schaefer Riley is a weekly columnist for the New York Post and a former Wall Street Journal editor. She is known for her writings centered on the topics of higher education, religion, philanthropy and culture. Her work has appeared in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Boston Globe. Previous books include “Got Religion?” and “’Til Faith Do Us Part: How Interfaith Marriage is Transforming America,” which was named an editor’s pick by the New York Times Book Review. In her latest, “The New Trail of Tears: How Washington Is Destroying American Indians,” she explores the topic of the tragic plight of the American Indian.

History tells of the devastating effects of white settlers on Indian communities but that is not where the story ends. In “The New Trail of Tears,” the author writes about how American Indians have the highest rates of poverty of any racial group and that they are plagued by suicide and gang violence. According to her, this stems from an effort to ease the “white guilt” which has resulted in lack of economic opportunities, lack of education and lack of equal protection under the law. This heavily notated book is divided into three parts: “The False Promise of Sovereignty,” “White people call it nepotism. We call it kinship” and “Who Will Stand Up for Civil Rights?” Chapter 5: “Equal Protection” stands out when the author proposes that “If Americans owe something to Indians, it’s surely the basic protections we afford all Americans.”

Naomi Schaefer Riley has written an eye-opening account of what life is really like in reservations. Even though she starts off in the introduction by blaming modern liberalism she redeems herself by proposing solutions. Over the years the government has been uselessly throwing money at the problem when all they need is the autonomy, the education and the legal protections to help themselves. The subject of mascots comes up and it puts things into perspective: the problems American Indians face will not be made worse by the image of an Indian on a football team’s jersey. The material may be difficult to read but it is a subject that must be addressed. It is recommended for readers who are interested in the history of American Indians that goes beyond history books.

*Disclaimer: A copy of this book was given for an honest review. The opinions expressed in this article are solely the author’s.

‘Cabaret’ at the Majestic Theatre

Tickets for ‘Cabaret’ go on sale this Friday August 26, 2016. Photo: Getty Images.

Roundabout Theatre Company’s Tony Award® winning production of ‘Cabaret’ returns to San Antonio in October. It will be playing at the Majestic Theatre from Tuesday October 25 through Sunday October 30 for eight performances only. Tickets go on sale this Friday August 26 at 10a.m. Performances are at 7:30p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 8p.m. on Friday, 2p.m. and 8p.m. on Saturday and 2p.m. and 7:30p.m. on Sunday. Ticket prices start at $30 and can be purchased at the Majestic Theatre box office, online, through Ticketmaster or by calling 1-800-745-3000. Orders for groups of ten or more can be made by calling (210) 226-5967. Single ticket orders must be done in person at the box office. Box office hours are 10a.m. to 5p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturday hours vary. (North Park Lexus Broadway in San Antonio, 2016)

Roundabout Theatre Company is a not-for-profit company that is committed to producing the highest quality theater with the finest artists. This marks the 50th anniversary season of the critically acclaimed and award winning theater. Their production of ‘Cabaret’ opened in Broadway in 1998 and won four Tony Awards® including Best Revival of a musical. It is based on the play by John Van Druten and stories by Christopher Isherwood. It is set in the infamous Kit Kat Klub where Emcee Sally Bowles and the rest of the ensemble take the stage nightly to tantalize the crowd and to leave their troubles outside. Memorable songs include “Cabaret,” “Willkommen” and “Maybe This Time.” It features the original Broadway direction by Sam Mendes and original co-direction and choreography by Rob Marshall.

Majestic Theatre
224 E Houston St
San Antonio, TX 78205
(210) 226-5700

Theater review: ‘Evita’

‘Evita’ is now playing at the Woodlawn Theatre. Photo by Sandra Cruz

Last weekend was the premiere of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Evita’ at the Woodlawn Theatre.  Eva Perón was the second wife of Argentine president Juan Perón.  ‘Evita’ chronicles her true life story from childhood, rise to power, charity work and death.  She rose from the slums of Argentina to the presidential mansion as First Lady and became one of the most powerful women in the world.  Even though she was loved by the general public it was her greed, outsized ambition and fragile health that made her life a tragic one.

The story begins in a cinema in Buenos Aires as the press secretary announces Evita’s death.  The atmosphere turns somber as the company sings “Requiem” and the city is in mourning.  One of the perks of seeing a show at the Woodlawn is the creativity that brings the show to the audience.  In this case the mourners pour through the theater from the audience and the casket is carried down the center aisle.  This makes it feel like the audience is present at the funeral. The cynical narrator Che, portrayed by Travis Treviño, takes over on “Oh, What a Circus” to notate the hysteria sweeping the nation following her death.  His performance gives the role the authority it needs to keep the story going.  Lauren Wertz-James’ turn as Evita is just as striking and does the character justice.

There were some sound issues at Saturday’s performance but hopefully they were fixed in time for this weekend.  Musical standouts include “A New Argentina” when Juan Perón is elected president and it ends Act I with a ‘power to the people’ feel.  As soon as Act II began the audience grew quiet and the anticipation grew on the heels of the iconic “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” and it did not disappoint; neither did the gorgeous dress that Wertz-James wore for the scene.  There is no dialogue but the singing and dancing are excellent and when combined with the costumes and settings the result is a must see musical. ‘Evita’ runs until Sunday September 11 with show times on Friday and Saturday at 7:30p.m. and Sunday at 3p.m.  Tickets range from $17 to $26 and are available online.

Official opening set for Jazz, TX

Jazz, TX, a new upscale jazz club located at the Pearl will officially open its doors on Tuesday August 23, 2016.  Photo courtesy of Jazz, TX, used with permission. 

Renowned San Antonio musician Brent “Doc” Watkins recently announced the opening date for Jazz, TX, a new music venue located at the Pearl.  Officially opening to the public on Tuesday August 23 it will focus on jazz, blues, big band, Texas swing, salsa, conjunto and Americana.  There will be a week-long celebration from Tuesday August 23 through Saturday August 27 featuring music by Doc Watkins and his orchestra.  Tickets for this special opening week celebration are $50 per person and can be purchased online  Since space is limited, interested patrons are encouraged to buy tickets early.  (Jazz, TX, 2016)

Doc Watkins is a local pianist, organist, band leader and composer from San Antonio.  He is well known in the local live music scene and his musical repertoire ranges from soulful ballads to hard swinging Jazz standards.  As San Antonio’s live music scene continues to grow, he is at the forefront of this growth.  Now comes Jazz, TX, a 3,500 square foot venue located in the basement of the original Bottling Department at Pearl.  It combines the feel of an upscale jazz club with the grit of a traditional Texas dancehall.  The atmosphere will range from dancing and cocktails on some nights to a more intimate listening experience on others.  The hours for opening week will be Tuesday through Saturday from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. Starting on August 30, the venue’s hours will be Tuesday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m., and Friday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Aside from the music guests will be able to enjoy a “San Antonian” soul food menu.  This will include items like Brisket Tacos, Chilaquiles and The King Cowboy, a country fried pork chop served with creamed mustard greens, apple and tomato.  The cocktail menu includes drinks like the El Maestro with tequila, sweet vermouth and ancho-infused Campari as well as The Ensemble, made with bourbon, fresh basil, brown sugar, angostura and peach bitters.  General Manager Jake Corney oversees Jazz, Tx and its cocktail program while the kitchen is led by local chef Lorenzo Morales, who has worked with Arcade Midtown Kitchen, the Last Word and Old Main Association.

New season: The Classic Theatre of San Antonio

The new season of The Classic Theatre of San Antonio begins in September with ‘The House on Mango Street.’ Photo courtesy of The Classic Theatre of San Antonio, used with permission. 

The Classic Theatre of San Antonio is a local, non-profit, small professional theater that creates theater that is relevant, diverse, entertaining and trans-formative. The theater recently announced the lineup for the 2016-2017 season which starts next month. Season 9 is titled ‘Passages’ and consists of four ‘passages’ that will include a visit to a house, a school, an island and a bus stop. It all begins with ‘The House on Mango Street’ followed by ‘School for Scandal,’ ‘The Tempest’ and ‘Bus Stop.’ Show times are Friday and Saturday at 8p.m. and Sunday at 3p.m. Ticket prices are $25 for general admission, $20 for senior, military, educator or SATCO and $10 for students. Season passes start at $90. They may be purchased online or by calling the box office at (210) 589-8450. (The Classic Theatre of San Antonio)

‘The House on Mango Street’ was adapted by Amy Ludwig from Sandra Cisneros’ book.  It tells the story of Esperanza Cordero whose neighborhood is one of harsh realities and harsh beauties. She is a young Latina coming into her power and finding out what she will become. It runs from Friday September 2 through Sunday September 25, 2016. ‘School for Scandal’ by Richard Brinsley Sheridan is directed by co-founder Diane Malone. It ‘is a play obsessed by wit, fashion, celebrity and reputation’-Deborah Warner, Director Barbican Theatre and will run from Friday November 4 through Sunday November 27, 2016. ‘The Tempest’ by William Shakespeare is directed by Mark McCarver. This is Shakespeare’s classic story of Prospero who is cast away on a remote island with his daughter Miranda. It runs from Friday February 17 through Sunday March 12, 2017. ‘Bus Stop’ by William Inge is directed by Executive Director Kelly Roush. It tells the story of travelers who are trapped in a diner during a snowstorm and the relationships that develop during their stay there. ‘Bus Stop’ runs from Friday May 5 through Sunday May 28, 2017.

The Classic Theatre of San Antonio
1924 Fredericksburg Rd
San Antonio, TX 78201
(210) 589-8450

‘Evita’ at the Woodlawn Theatre

‘Evita’ opens this Friday August 12, 2016 at the Woodlawn Theatre.  Photo courtesy of Woodlawn Theatre, used with permission.

Starting this month the Woodlawn Theatre is staging the local production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Evita’ for five weekends only. This passionate and colorful musical is sponsored by Margarita Man and opens on Friday August 12. It will run until Sunday September 11 and show times are Friday and Saturday at 7:30p.m. and Sunday at 3p.m. Tickets are now on sale online or by calling the box office at (210) 267-8388. Prices are $17 for students and children, $23 for seniors and military and $26 for adults. All tickets are subject to a $3 service fee. Groups of ten or more receive a 20% discount.

‘Evita’ is the winner of seven Tony Awards and chronicles the true life story of Eva Perón, the second wife of Argentine president Juan Perón from childhood, rise to power, charity work and death. She rose from the slums of Argentina to the presidential mansion as First Lady and became one of the most powerful women in the world. Even though she was loved because of her work with the poor it was her greed, outsized ambition and fragile health that made her life a tragic one. The production features Andrew Lloyd Webber’s compelling Latin, pop and jazz influenced score. It includes memorable songs such as “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina,” “Another Suitcase in Another Hall” and “High Flying, Adored.” Christopher Rodriguez directs and choreographs and Josh Pepper is the music director. It stars Lauren Wertz-James as Evita, Travis Treviño as Che Guevara and Miguel Ochoa as Juan Peron. (Woodlawn Theatre, 2016)

Woodlawn Theatre
1920 Fredericksburg Rd
San Antonio, TX 78201
(210) 267-8388

Final Summer Beer Talk Series at Southerleigh

The final Summer Beer Talk Series of the summer takes place on Wednesday August 10, 2016. Photo courtesy of Southerleigh, used with permission. 

The Summer Beer Talk Series continues at Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery at the Pearl on Wednesday August 10, 2016. It is the final installment for the summer and it will take place at the lush patio right outside of Southerleigh’s main entrance where brew-master Les Locke will be hosting this informational session. Topics will include Southerleigh’s beers of the month and how they pair with food along with a small tasting of their new cream ale, sake-beer and Russian imperial stout. Botika the new Peruvian-Asian restaurant at the Pearl will be participating at the event and will be selling spring rolls for $3 apiece, cash only. The event is sponsored by San Antonio Beer Festival who will be onsite with discounted tickets, koozies, coasters and more. Special guest will be Travis E Poling, co-author of “San Antonio Beer” and co-founder of San Antonio Beer Week. He will be joining Les Locke during the session with signed versions of his book for sale. The session is free and open to the public on a first come, first serve basis from 5:30p.m. to 7p.m. (Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery, 2016)

With up to twenty different beers on tap Southerleigh offers a rotating array of original recipe, craft batch beers from Brewer Les Locke. These include ales, IPAs and unique porters such as Conjunction Curry Porter, an English porter brought to life with mustard seed, turmeric, fenugreek, cumin, curry powders and black pepper and Southerleigh Gold, a traditional Dortmunder style lager. Southerleigh is the first brewery at Pearl since 2001 and has a 15-barrel brew house, six serving tank and a firkin/wood barrel-aging program. It is a 7,900-square foot dining facility with multiple seating options including bar seating, patio seating and a private dining room that can seat up to twenty people. The private dining in the north dining room seats up to seventy five people with the capacity to host parties of up to two hundred people.

Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery
136 East Grayson, Ste 120
San Antonio, TX 78215
(210) 455-5701

Book review: ‘Orchard: A Novel’ by Jack H Bailey

‘Orchard: A Novel’ is the new historical fiction novel by Jack H Bailey.  Photo courtesy of  the author, used with permission.

Jack H Bailey was an American author known for his critically acclaimed novels “The Number Two Man” and “The Icarus Complex.”  He was an annual participant in the prestigious Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition which is sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  His newest book is “Orchard: A Novel,” a historical fiction novel based on the life of Albert Edward Horsley, best known by the pseudonym Harry Orchard.  Orchard was a miner and assassin convicted of the 1905 assassination of former Idaho Governor Frank Steuneberg.  Bailey is descended from gold miners and grew up in and around the locales frequented by Harry Orchard.  He became interested in the life of Harry Orchard while living in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, the site of a labor strike where Orchard was known to be involved.

“Orchard: A Novel” is set in the year 1899 when Harry Orchard is a member of the Western Federation of Miners.  The Western Federation of Miners was a radical labor union known for its militancy in the mines of the western United States and British Columbia.  He is paid to kill men who have become a problem for the union.  Even though he is a killer he is well liked by his peers and the ladies.  By the time he is finally arrested by the legendary Pinkerton Charles Siringo he has killed nineteen men in Colorado and Idaho.  The story ends with his confession in which he implicates three leaders of the Western Federation of Miners: Charles Moyer, William Haywood and Charles Pettibone.

The author does an excellent job of shedding light on a subject and time period that is seldom talked about.  Life at the turn of the nineteenth century was difficult for those involved in mine work.  Harry Orchard is a well developed and multidimensional character.  Even though he is a hired killer he is also well liked by some of the townspeople, some even going out of their way to help him when he is injured in a shootout.  He becomes an anti hero of sorts when he tries to help Amy, a local woman, and her brother and is upset when she gets killed.  The action is fast paced and easy to follow.  “Orchard: A Novel” is recommended for fans of historical fiction, especially those interested in labor union history.

*Disclaimer: A copy of this book was given for an honest review.  The opinions expressed in this article are solely the author’s.