Laredo Theater Guild International (LTGI), in cooperation with Laredo Community College and sponsored by the D.D. Hachar Charitable Trust, the International Bank of Commerce, and the Texas Commission on the Arts, will present Bless Me, Ultima, Rudolfo Anaya’s own stage adaptation of his classic novel, February 24 – March 1 at the Guadalupe and Lilia Martinez Fine Arts Center at LCC. This is the fourth annual production in LTGI’s Class On Stage series, with daytime performances February 24 and 25 for LISD students and February 26 for UISD students, in addition to the regular evening performances February 27 and 28 and the matinee Sunday March 1.
Directed by Vernon Carroll (The Crucible, Hairspray, The Tragedy of Macbeth) and produced by John Maxstadt, Bless Me, Ultima is the story of Antonio Márez y Luna’s mystical coming of age in rural New Mexico in the 1940s, under the guidance and protection of the curandera, Ultima. The novel is Anaya’s best-known work, critically acclaimed and widely read in and out of the classroom. It won the Premio Quinto Sol award in 2008 and was one of twelve classic American novels selected for The Big Read.
The 31-member cast combines new faces with established audience favorites. Popular local performer Veronica Ramirez leads the cast in the title role (Ultima), and Gerardo Piña (The 39 Steps) plays Tony as an adult, who narrates much of the action. Newcomer April Salazar plays young Tony, and well-known local actor Ernesto Adame (El Merolico) plays the demanding role of Tenorio Trementina. Marco Coronado and Stephanie Solis-Schnyder play Gabriel and Maria, Tony’s parents. Anaya’s freeform playscript captures the magical realism of the original novel, providing many challenges capably met by veteran director Carroll and special effects designer Marco Gonzalez.
Bless Me, Ultima will be the fourth production in LTGI’s Class On Stage series, following The Crucible, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth. Class On Stage performances have been viewed by thousands of Laredo-area students, and students’ test scores over Macbeth were noticeably higher after viewing the play. An indication of the excitement surrounding this project is the original artwork by celebrated southwestern artist Amado Peña (commissioned by Dr. Jose O. Vazquez-Vicente) which will be the poster and program cover art for the production.
Regular performances will be in the Martinez Theater at LCC at 8 pm Friday and Saturday Feb. 27-28 and at 3 pm Sunday March 1, in addition to daytime performances as arranged with LISD and UISD for Feb. 24-26 (also at LCC). Tickets are available at Blue Top Digital Reprographics at 101 Hillside Road, and Primped The Style Bar at 7718 McPherson Road, and may be purchased electronically at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bless-me-ultima-tickets-15733174348 For more information, please call LTGI at (956) 319-8610, email LTGI at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit LTGI on the web at www.laredotheaterguild.org.