Thursday, April 26, 2012

MYSTERIES OF MARIA; Inside Artes de la Rosa's Maria De Buenos Aires - BLOG 9 - ILLUMINATING DISCOVERIES

Today we blog with Lighting Designer Michael Cole. Michael is not new to ADLR having served as Assistant Lighting Designer on our production of A View From The Bridge. Michael is a creative beast as an Artist and is bringing his own special brand of en-lightning Illumination to Maria de Buenos Aires... Opening Night is just around the

Adam first approached me about designing the lighting for Maria de Buenos Aires while I was on tour with a production of My Fair Lady. We had been having conversations concerning different philosophies of art and how art is influenced by life and how it affects life.
One day out of the blue, Adam sends me an e-mail telling me about a production he would be working on called Maria des Buenos Aires. Apparently the original lighting designer had taken another job in New York and would be unable to commit to the project. Being out of college for a year, looking for new experiences, I gladly accepted the project.

In the following weeks our conversations about art transformed slowly into me asking a lot of questions: what was it about? Why was it written? What in the world is an Operita?! Adam was able to send me what I can only describe as a research book. Filled with inspirational imagery, detailed history of the production, synopsis, libretto, pages of character descriptions, author biographies, etc. It was…thoroughly…researched.
Normally, my design process would begin with the script as it is the “blueprint” of the production. As this production is based on the tango, however, it was more appropriate to begin with the music. The music itself was a joy to listen to. I could hear the colors of the production very succinctly in the dynamics and melody. After reading the script, I went back to the music to make notes and drawings that I felt captured the style.

The next step was to ascertain the tools that I had to work with. In working with the technical director/scene designer, we compiled an inventory of the lighting gear available. To do this, it was necessary to remove every light from the stage. Something that had not been done in years. The entire lighting system will be reconfigured for Maria... to suit her needs.
In this production, the lighting will paint every scene to help evoke the spirit of the story. Strong theatrical looks, not limited by the confines of realistic lighting, will sculpt every segment of the story. Heavy use of color and angle will add to the tango drama that is Maria. You won’t want to miss this.

Monday, April 23, 2012

MYSTERIES OF MARIA; Inside Artes de la Rosa's Maria De Buenos Aires - BLOG 8 - "Hay Dios Mio"

Today we blog with Wes Cantrell, one of the Stars of Maria de Buenos Aires. You may have noticed Wes steaming up the press photos - but he's more then a pretty face. Wes is a wonderful artist and a charismatic actor. You'll be really suprised what he's doing with the role of Father Luce, a priest with a dark secret. Let's hear what Wes has to say... make sure to purchase your tickets, opening night is less then three weeks away!

I am very excited to be returning to the stage in the city of Fort Worth. I’ve lived most of my life over in Weatherford, and Fort Worth was always the big city for me. Whenever we needed to go shopping or do something fun, we’d always jump on I-20, and start heading East. In a way, getting back to the Artes de le Rosa stage is a homecoming for me. When Adam approached me about working as a principal in a “Tango Operita” I wasn’t so much skeptical as I was absolutely terrified! Dancing? Tango?! Spanish?!? Hay Dios mio… I knew if I said yes I would have my work cut out for me. But he gave me the Original Cast recording, and within five minutes of listening to the tracks I had fallen in love with the music. It’s tantric, sexy, and takes these twists and turns that I’ve never heard from anything else. I knew right then and there that I had to be a part of this production. Before too long I had made friends with the rest of the cast, and I knew how special this production was going to be. There are some shows that you do out of obligation, or because you’re trying to get your Equity weeks, and typically you don’t remember much from the rehearsal process or the run of those shows. But then there are shows that you do that blur that line between work and play. The ones that you’re involved in simply for the love of it. Those are the shows that stay with you forever. I know that this particular show has been a journey for me. I’m very excited to bring Father Luce to life in a way that no one has ever seen before… I hope you get to come see it.

Maria de Buenos Aires
A Tango Operita
May 11th - May 27th

Photos by Shannon Atkinson

Thursday, April 19, 2012

MYSTERIES OF MARIA; Inside Artes de la Rosa's Maria De Buenos Aires - BLOG 7 - Argentina Looks French?

Today we blog with Technical Director and Maria de Buenos Aires Scenic Designer, Oliver Luke. Oliver's designs for Artes de la Rosa theatre have been called beautiful, emersive, and 'art'...and we'd agree! Whether taking us to a dark prison in Argentina or a massive mansion in Miami, Oliver has helped in the revitalization and renisannce of the Rose! He's out done himself with Maria de Buenos Aires. Make sure to check out his work by buying your tickets at!

ARGENTINA LOOKS FRENCH?           Approaching the design of a show that has no real setting other than the city of its inception can be a liberating and daunting task. That was the first thought that ran through my head, how do i approach an original design but stay true to the setting of Buenos Aires, Argentina?

My first step to this approach was to study the architecture of Buenos Aires and understanding its influences, which turns out to be very French and Italian in the Baroque Style. Unfortunately the Rose's stage doesn't always allow for the style that may be necessary for a design that would require monumental staircases and expansive dome ceilings. However I did try to focus on the rich interiors and of course the openness of the space which would allow for greater movement opportunities for the dancers. The other issue was deciding on wether we wanted the streets of Buenos Aires where the tango was born or the interior of the Bordellos where the tango was practiced and perfected.

So after about five design sketches, some conceptual and others more literal, we made a decision on our location. The second element to work with would then be color. I decided to play with more earthy and cool colors to contrast the fiery passionate colors one would associate with the tango. Here and there you will get a splash of those passionate colors such as reds but overall it will be a very dark contrast. The last element of my design was that I really wanted to play with lighting opportunities and how lighting can really change the mood and feel of a setting. So the set will feature some really great elements that will play with, lighting designer Michael Coles' work. You'll hear from Michael next week! Till then...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

MYSTERIES OF MARIA; Inside Artes de la Rosa's Maria De Buenos Aires - BLOG 6 - What IS a musical operetta tango ballet?

Today we blog with actress Lorens Portalatin who plays Alma, The Voice of the Brothel... one of the two youngest members of the cast, Lorens is proving to be quite a fierce company member! You'll have to see what we mean when the show opens May 11th at the Rose Marine Theater. You can be sure that you'll be seeing more of her on stage at Artes de la Rosa!
Lorens Portalatin with JP Cano

What IS a musical operetta tango ballet?

Whenever I first recieved the Facebook audition event invite for Maria de Buenos Aires I skimmed through it and disregarded it, thinking that someone would consider me either too young or unexperienced for this type of production. But after really going through and reading the description of the show, and hearing through the wording how passionate, and intense, and how physical the show was going to be, I just knew I had to be a part of it.

While reading the synopsis I knew that nothing like this had ever been done in Texas and that peaked my interest even more! A musical, operetta, tango ballet, that is NOT a musical, operetta, tango ballet... Honestly? What does that even mean?

I went through the audition process, was fortunate enough to be called back and then was cast as the Alma, the Voice of the Brothel. And in knowing that I was one of the two youngest in the show I knew that I could learn and experience so much from this production. Between the cast, dancers and production staff I have truly seen how much work and time and thought has gone into this entire process. From the storyline, to the characters to the very point or flex of a dancer's foot. It's going to be a marvelous monster within itself. Full of love, hate, anger, jealousy and every other deadly sin that you never knew could be portrayed in such a sensual and unseeingly beautiful way.

While being in rehearsal with the cast, crew and Adam (director), we've had the show broken down piece by piece, and all the way down to the heart of the story. The music. Astor Piazolla, wrote a show that did not have to be physically interpreted or represented. The story line drives the music, where it's going and where your mind takes you.

This is going to be a production that the audience walks out knowing and what we were portraying and telling them about Maria and her choices. They have never seen anything like it and it will be unforgettable

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

MYSTERIES OF MARIA; Inside Artes de la Rosa's Maria De Buenos Aires - BLOG 5 - Well Prepared Means 120 Pages!

Today we blog with Costume Designer Justin Kailer who's designs have captivated and captured the imagination in beautiful Artes de la Rosa stage productions including Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Kiss of the Spiderwoman. With a long history of collaboration between Director Adam Adolfo and himself, Justin's designs for Adam Adolfo shows are always crisp, surprising, innovative, with a distinctive eye for detail.

I first met with Adam, regarding this production of Maria de Buenos Aires, in November of last year. We met for coffee at CafĂ© Brazil and he hands me packet of information no less than 120 pages long. It was a lot to sift through; a complete synopsis including the libretto, an entire production history with reviews as well as about 100 photos. In no time at all we were discussing his vision for Astor Piazzolla’s “tango operita”.

I took my newly acquired “show bible” home with me that evening and began pouring over it. I firmly believe that a Designer’s work must always start with the script, before any drawings are made. After that comes research. And so, I read the synopsis twice and I must have read the script alone at least 5 times over the next two or three weeks before sketching out preliminary renderings for the principle characters. About the third time through, I began jotting down words that popped out (repeated words), words that I thought of or a certain feeling that the libretto invoked in me. Together with my list and a pencil I started sketching. After another two or three days, I finally had my rough drawings in hand and went back to Adam in late December, early January.

I love working with Director Adam Adolfo simply because he is always well prepared. He is never “not prepared”. He knows exactly what story he wants to tell and how he wants to tell that story. He will often times assemble his production staff to meet this very specific goals. Typically, he tells you that, “this is the way it’s been done, but we will not be doing that—instead we will be doing it this [other] way.” More often than not, the [other] way is drastically different. Adam often challenges me. By encouraging me to try out a new idea, he nurtures my creativity and ingenuity, testing new construction methods or perhaps a delicate fabric. He is always eager and willing to think outside the box, in ways that are not conventional or sometimes even comfortable, often testing limits for actors, production staff and eventual audience members alike.

In my research I was very surprised to learn that awfully little had been done with this particular operita since it was conceived by Piazzola and Librettist Horacio Ferrer almost fifty years ago in the 1960s. Because of this, I basically had free reign and could design the show any way I saw fit, within the constraints of the music and of dance.

The top of the show is extremely colorful and bright, this is when she is first discovering the city. The second Act however will be much darker in terms of costuming and also overall atmosphere. I will often take inspiration from multiple sources for a single production—movies, a piece of art, a shopping trip or even clothes I see a random person wearing on the street. Somehow, in some way, all of these things work together and manage to complement each other every single time. Each costume choice, from beginning to end, is dictated by the progression of the show or what’s happening in a particular scene.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

MYSTERIES OF MARIA; Inside Artes de la Rosa's Maria De Buenos Aires -BLOG 4 - DANGER: Must be this Tall to see Maria de Buenos Aires

TODAY, we blog with GRACE NEELEY who is starring in the title role of Maria de Buenos Aires. Grace is making her Artes de la Rosa debut and marks the first time she's working with Director Adam Adolfo.

DANGER: Must be This Tall to see Maria de Buenos Aires

I believe humans at the core of our beings share in a great suffering.  We long for pain and agony, many times, to our own detriment. How else can one explain horror movies, cigarettes, and roller coasters? The thrill of danger excites us all.  Although sometimes this thrill comes at quite a high price, we continue to go willingly into pleasure and deal with the pain later. Are we all violent? Are we all curious? Are we all psychotic? Maria de Buenos Aires answers this question with a resounding: YES.

Maria leaves behind her quiet suburban life as a flower seller to enter into a world of unknown adventure and excitement in a bordello in downtown Buenos Aires. She is seduced by the music and dance of the tango, and quickly forgets herself. She then reinvents herself as a strong, powerful, sex kitten of the bordello, only to find that she will receive more than she bargained for. Sexual power is very hard to control, in fact, is that even possible? Control is the opposite of passion. So, control is an illusion. This illusion IS THE TANGO. The fight for control and power is the dance.  This dance lures Maria, willingly, to sinful pleasure and ultimately death.

As members of an affluent society we all have to participate in menial tasks and unrewarding duties day in and day out. So, how can we combat the ever looming and threatening inevitability of boredom? Well, some people cheat on their spouses, although they love them deeply... I would venture to say that this stems from boredom as a result of utter complacency. We are bombarded with literature and workshop classes detailing how to, “keep the spark alive.” Conversely, we struggle to keep the spark alive in our own lives as well... If we cannot, then why go on at all? Danger is a quick fix for this boredom. Screaming and crying makes us feel much more alive than quiet contentment ever will. The tango is a roller coaster. Maria wants nothing more than to take that ride. Looking for a little danger in your life? Are you a little bored? Come to Artes de la Rosa…and Buckle your seat belt.

Monday, April 9, 2012

MYSTERIES OF MARIA; Inside Artes de la Rosa's Maria De Buenos Aires - Blog 3; NOWHERE & EVERYWHERE with JP CANO

TODAY, we blog with JP CANO who is returning to Artes de la Rosa after being last seen in our production of A View From The Bridge. Today Mr. Cano talks to us about the very evocative spirit that Maria de Buenos Aires places on all those who come in contact with it!


When I thought about the idea of blogging for the upcoming Artes de la Rosa’s new show “Maria de Buenos Aires”, what came to my mind was the fear and the fascination I had when I took my first class of tango at 17 years old; a fear for the constant mutual body contact (sensual) which had not really awakened then at mty early age, and a fascination for the dramatic music and feelings aroused it aroused. Since then I realized Tango music has an enchantment, with many unexpected twists and turns, and filled with dramatic tones.

“Maria de Buenos Aires” as a whole is complicated to explain but even though I never heard of Piazzolla before this, he did one of the best tangos I have ever listened to in my life. This classic tale of love, lust, and hate was written in an amazing type of music. My character, El Duende is more complicated then anyone could’ve ever thought and his love for a woman who will never love him back is sad… but it also amuses me; I think we all (or at least most of us) have had experience with love never being returned.  

I am so proud to be back at Artes de la Rosa with such a magnificent production, even though I have to admit when the director showed me the music I felt intrigued by the lyrics and poetry done by Herracio Ferrer, but I was thrown of fbalance (even though Spanish is my first language) for the type of slangs and versification; it aroused the question of what the composer wanted to transmit to the audience. The innovation of new theater and new talent that Artes de la Rosa is bringing to Forth Worth is limitless. Mr. Adolfo has done a colossal interpretation of “Maria…”, giving twists, love, passion, sensual movement, darkness and death a new powerful meaning. Be prepared to travel to nowhere and to everywhere at the same time because “Maria de Buenos Aires” will arrive soon.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Maria de Buenos Aires; A Tango Opera - The Photographs

"For years, (Shannon Atkinson) and Artes de la Rosa have been head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to publicity photos for performing arts productions. This is why." - Publishing Editor and Co-Founder: Mark Lowry;
Well, we hope we have done it again. Today we are proud to present the press photos for the upcoming Regional Premiere of Maria de Buenos Aires, A Tango Operita. The photos feature cast members Grace Neeley, Keith J. Warren, and Wes Cantrell. Images by Shannon Atkinson, Styled by Adam Adolfo.
Artes de la Rosa Presents
Maria de Buenos Aires
A Tango Operita
Photo by Shannon Atkinson

 Artes de la Rosa’s Adam Adolfo directs with Elise Lavallee choreographing. Joshua Bradford serves as music director and conducts the 7-piece orchestra, who are part of the staging of this production, which has set design by Artes de la Rosa Technical Director Oliver Luke, costume design by Justin Kailer, lighting design by Michael Cole,  and sound design by Adam Adolfo.


Feel the Heat of Tango
Maria de Buenos Aires
A Tango Operita
Photo by Shannon Atkinson

Surrender to the Desire of
Maria de Buenos Aires
A Tango Operita
Photo by Shannon Atkinson


MARIA DE BUENOS AIRESopens Friday May 11th and plays Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sunday Matinees at 2:30 pm through Sunday May 27th. Opening Night Gala Tickets are $25 for which includes Maria’s Midnight Milonga: a Private Gala after Party with the cast, staff, and donors of Artes de la Rosa. General Admission tickets for the rest of the run are $18 for adults and $15 for students and seniors, matinee prices are $15 and $10 respectively. For tickets or more information, call the Rose Marine Theater Box Office at (817) 624-8333. Special ticket prices are available for groups of 10 or more. Tickets can be purchased online at

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mysteries of Maria; Inside Artes de la Rosa's MARIA DE BUENOS AIRES: Blog 2 - Digging Deep with Keith J. Warren

Over the next 8 weeks, we will be recieving blogs from the cast, crew, and production staff of Maria de Buenos Aires, recieiving it's Regional Premiere this May at the Rose Marine Theater. Check back every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for special insights, comments, and information about Maria de Buenos Aires! Today we blog with star Keith J. Warren who is returning to Artes de la Rosa after last year's critically acclaimed Kiss of the Spiderwoman.

Digging Deep with Keith J. Warren
It’s a pleasure to be involved with Artes de la Rosa after a whole year since Kiss of the Spider Woman. In the time since then, I’ve stayed focused on several other projects and looked forward to upcoming opportunities.

Around January of this year, I heard mention of Maria de Buenos Aires from several people with Artes de la Rosa. When I asked what the show was about, the answer I received left me very intrigued. I found the premise of a tango opera/musical with an avant garde and romantic ghost story type feel to it was definitely a story to look into more deeply. The next stage for me was the music of the show. From the very beginning, the music is alluring. It started painting pictures and colors in my head before I even saw any visual concepts of the shows designs. It left me wanting more and that was the moment I decided that I wanted to have a part of this project. It’s a story that is intended for artists in all facets of the performing arts, which to me, is very exciting.

For me, another very pivotal part of the puzzle was having my best friend, Grace Neeley, cast in the title role of Maria. It’s a very special experience to have the chemistry you have with a friend you hold dear to your heart and take part in each other’s journey through such a complex story such as Maria. Like most stories, there are relationships and the moments that Grace and I share in this tale are not like many that I’ve experienced in other productions. Maria takes a lot of concentration on both mental and physical chemistry. With a story as emphasized by the Tango and its physical dimensions, I find that there’s a greater artistic expression when you already have such a close and personal relationship. It’s also a delight to know that the entire cast as a whole shares in the collective feeling of excitement of sharing the chemistry and artistic influences that Maria will help bring to the table.

Keith J. Warren with Jason Villareal
in Artes de la Rosa's
Kiss of the Spiderwoman.
Photo by Michael C. Foster
As an actor, Maria is already presenting challenges and demands that don’t come in such great supply with most productions. For this, I’m very excited and grateful. An actor who has all of the answers doesn’t tend to work as hard to make bring the character to life a great deal of the time. In this particular instance, there is no other choice but to dig deep into yourself and even deeper into the text and discover the meanings and relationships that the story holds. As I continue to do this, the music of the show becomes even meatier and erotic, which raises the question… what comes next? Another exciting detail for me as an artist.

I’m really looking forward to the show’s growth and progression as the rehearsal process continues on. I think it’s a story that will break through the language barriers and bring back a great appreciation for storytelling, which often at times is lost among special effects and over done visuals. This show puts the raw physical performing first.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mysteries of Maria; Inside Artes de la Rosa's MARIA DE BUENOS AIRES: Blog 1 - The Artistic Director Could Use a Sedative

Over the next 8 weeks, we will be recieving blogs from the cast, crew, and production staff of Maria de Buenos Aires, recieiving it's Regional Premiere this May at the Rose Marine Theater. Check back every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for special insights, comments, and information about Maria de Buenos Aires! Today we spend a few moments with Artistic Director Adam Adolfo.

The Artistic Director Could Use a Sedative
So rehearsals started yesterday for Maria de Buenos Aires. The night before I didn’t get to bed till 3:00 AM and in the morning I knew from the second my eyes opened – it was gonna be one of ‘those’ days. Sigh. It’s this show!

It’s a mammoth show…a beast. Hours before rehearsal, I was in a foul mood, tense and on edge.  Constantly thinking, reevaluting, judging, calculating, and expecting the worse.  I was snapping left and right and I was sure my best friend and pilar of strength (Artes de la Rosa Technical Director) Oliver Luke would punch me just to sedate me. *giggle* The pressures one feels to produce good work is normal – I mean, who doesn’t want to do their best? But Maria de Buenos Aires is a show that is both a personal quest and demon for me and my career. I was supposed to produce this work some years ago when I was an Artistic Director of an opera company. But the production never materialized and I was left haunted with a feeling of personal and artistic failure. 10 minutes before rehearsals were set to begin, Oliver handed me a bottle of water and told me to ‘Calm down, before you give yourself a heart attack.” I chugged the bottle. Time to work.

I started very honestly with the team by saying… “Let me get this out of the way: Maria de Buenos Aires is not an opera. Nor is it a ballet. Nor is it a Tango Show. Nor is it an operetta or a musical. And now let me get this out of the way, Maria de Buenos Aires is an opera, is a ballet, is an operetta and is most definitely a musical! Maria de Buenos Aires is a unique amalgam of instrumentals, vocals, spoken word, and, in our production, dance. And you are all the best of the best at what you do. And you’re here to bring something very special to life.”

Sitting before me, the beautiful Elise Lavallee, a master choreographer in athleticism and aesthetic, she just smiled. I love working with her because she and I speak the same artistic language. Across from her the beautiful and luminous Grace Neeley, our Maria, and next to her the dashing Keith J. Warren, who’s singing voice is mesmerizing to me. Looking around I see old friends like JP Cano, our narrator, one of the most instinctive actors I know, every line he speaks, always rings true and of course Music Director Josh Bradford whose arrangements for Kiss of the Spiderwoman bred new life into a dated brassy musical. And there was Justin Kailer, friend, collegue, and costume designer, whose flawless taste and sense of style has made so many of my shows pop! My eye catches the perky Lorens Portalatin, whose voice impressed both me and Josh at auditions and then my gaze darts to Wes Cantrell, a young actor with a bright future due to his ability to stand onstage and command the audience.  And then the beautiful dancers! All six a gem of the dance world cross pollinating, Jazz, Ballet, Ballroom, and Modern…all hand picked by Elise’s fierce search for the best. Each smiling, intrigued, and probably a little curious about what they were about to embark on.

I sat, looking around the table and was very surprised at how calm I became. There was a great sense of peace but with an underlying energy that made the air in our art gallery crackle.  As a director, you get 5 maybe 6 shows in your whole career that change your foundation and rock your core. Maria de Buenos Aires will likely be one of those shows for me. And there we were. 20 of us, designers, dancers, singers, actors, all sitting getting lost in what will be our lives for the next 8 weeks, and all I could think was,

“HOW COOL IS THIS?!” haha.