"SOMEWHERE" IS THE PLACE WHERE DREAMS COME TRUE


Bonnie Goldberg

Living on dreams is an impractical pastime if reality intrudes its menacing head. Hope and promise can be giant balloons that inflate with the fantasies of what could be until facts cause them to pop. For the Candelaria family, especially for mama, their dreams swirl around show business, the theater and performing on Broadway.

This Puerto Rican family lives and breathes dance steps and song lyrics. Their apartment in New York City in the summer of 1959 is focused on a production of "West Side Story," a show mama desperately wants her progeny to audition for and star in. To witness their preparations for the big debut, head to the Hartford Stage until Sunday, May 4 for "Somewhere," a new play by Matthew Lopez.

Dreams feed the soul but they don't put food on the table or pay the apartment's rent. The first sign of trouble is a letter from the city to inform them that their home is going to be torn down to make room for a new project: Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The family has 30 days to vacate and find new accommodations.

When everyone in the family has their heads in the clouds, someone has to be grounded. That difficult task falls on the eldest child, Alejandro, a dedicated and determined Michael Rosen. Their dad, a song and dance star, is on the road hoping to support his clan. Alejandro is forced to put his own dreams of dancing aside, to deal with the day-to-day problems of survival. When he informs his mother Inez, a nurturing but stubborn Priscilla Lopez, that they must make plans to move, she refuses to accept the news and tears up the relocation orders.  In her mind, the matter is finished, done, finito.

Meanwhile younger siblings Cisco (Zachary Infante) and Rebecca (Jessica Ann Naimy) have swallowed mama's fantasies whole and with the help of their adopted brother Jamie (Cary Tedder), prepare for auditions for their "dream" roles. After all, Jamie is the assistant to famous choreographer Jerome Robbins so their success is almost assured. Giovanna Sardelli directs this touching and charming and dance filled (thanks to Greg Graham's choreography) glimpse into the lives of this hopeful family. The set, with its criss-crossed lines of laundry, by Donyale Werle is a welcome into their world.

For tickets ($25 and up), call Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at www.hartfordstage.org; Performances are Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Root for the Candelaria clan to have all their hopes come true in this fine production with heart and soul and lots of fancy footwork.

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