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October 30, 2013

"Aesop in Rancho Cucamonga" Catches Fire at The Lewis Family Playhouse

Written by  Isabel Quintero-Flores
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L to R Tony Sancho, Michael Manuel, Amielynn Abellera, Joe Hernandez-Kolski, Justin Huen L to R Tony Sancho, Michael Manuel, Amielynn Abellera, Joe Hernandez-Kolski, Justin Huen Photo by Ed Krieger

Before the show even begins, the audience is eased into the setting with the music of crickets, birds, and other forest life. And then, we’re there; running from a wild fire with Aesop and her clan.

The first world premier performance of the Lewis Family Playhouse, the MainStreet Theatre Company’s, Aesop in Rancho Cucamonga, took place on Saturday, October 26. The play, a hysterical and musically inclined adaptation of Aesop’s fables, was written by award winning poet and playwright Luis Alfaro, directed by Robert Castro, and produced by Mireya (Murry) Hepner.  In it, we are introduced to Aesop, a bear cub who gets separated from her clan during a wild fire which has chased the animals down the foothills of Rancho Cucamonga to a more wild and dangerous place—Victoria Gardens.

However, lest one feel that Aesop in Rancho Cucamonga is simply a feel good play, Alfaro inverts those expectations bringing to life cacti, lizards, ants, and even the moon as spiritual guides for young Aesop, transcending the fourth wall and riling up emotions of loss and self-discovery; Aesop is an orphan after all, and who can’t relate to feeling alone and sad? Certainly, everyone, even children.

Aesop in Rancho Cucamonga is part history lesson, part science lesson, and a complete lesson in what it means to be connected to one another and to have “raices.” From the Spanish speaking cacti to the British ants, Alfaro’s characters mirror our culturally diverse region, and emphasize the importance of these differences to the make-up of our landscape.

By the end of our journey, Aesop has taught us many lessons--the most important, perhaps, that we each carry our own bear dance in our heart, and that the answer to “what it means” is always within us.

Aesop in Rancho Cucamonga runs from October 26th - November 10th at the Lewis Family Playhouse. Performances for family audiences will be on weekends (Saturdays at 1p.m. and 4p.m. and Sundays at 1p.m.) and on weekday mornings for school groups. Regular performance tickets are $18 for adults and $16 for children (age 12 and under), and seniors (age 60 and up). Foundation Family Flex Packs can be purchased at $12 a ticket, when four or more are purchased. To purchase tickets call (909) 477-2752 or go to www.LewisFamilyPlayhouse.com. Parking is free.

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