TheaterTheater Interview

‘American Mariachi’ makes its regional debut at the Public


Opening this Friday at the Public Theater of San Antonio is American Mariachi by José Cruz González. This new production launches the 2022–23 Season curated by Executive Artistic Director Claudia de Vasco. The production plays at the Russell Hill Rogers Theater at San Pedro Playhouse in San Pedro Park from Sept. 9 through Oct. 2, 2022. It is directed by Ms. de Vasco with musical direction by Jaime Ramirez.

American Mariachi is set in the 1970s, where Lucha spends her days caring for her ailing mother but longs to shake up her life. When a forgotten record sparks her mother’s memory, Lucha and her cousin strike upon a radical idea: to create an all-female mariachi band. Infused with live music played by a live mariachi band, this “big-hearted, musical tugs at the heartstrings” and reminds us how music and love can make just about anything possible This play with music is filled with well-known mariachi classics and depicts beautiful portraits of latina women that any San Antonian can relate to.

Not only is this a regional premiere of the show, it also marks the first time a latino writers’ work will be presented at the Russell Hill Rogers Theater in the organization’s 100 years. Claudia de Vasco talked to ArtScene SA about it.

This production is a landmark for the Public in many ways, isn’t it? How do you feel about bringing the first latino-written play to the MainStage for the first time?

The Public’s Claudia de Vasco

Honestly, it caught me by surprise that this would be the first show written by a Latine playwright on the RHR stage produced by our company! The beauty of San Antonio is that it fused both American and Mexican culture and history into an identity that is all at once Texan, Mexican, and American.

I had figured that the flagship theater in town, and as one of the longest running theaters in town, that this wouldn’t be the first. Without knowing it was the first, I scheduled it in the season because this show just made sense for this city. And…to paraphrase Lizzo, “It’s about dang time!”

What factors motivated you to select it for the launch of your tenure as Artistic Director of the Public?

It was important for me to continue offering the kinds of shows our loyal patrons have loved seeing on our stage while also adding some pieces that satisfy that desire to witness masterful performances with music. American Mariachi has all those elements: an excellent layered and heart-warming story, music, singing, comedy. 

How do you feel that the show will speak to San Antonio audiences of every demographic?

It’s commonly known that San Antonio is sort of a capitol for Mariachi music with events like Mariachi Vargas extravaganza being hosted here. I’d also seen how audience respond to other Latine programming, for the simple fact that they saw themselves and their culture reflected on stage, at the heart, is a story about family, breaking down barriers, dealing with dementia, and love, and I knew that that would be the thread that could speak to all of the people in San Antonio.

Can you tell us any plans developing for later on in the season? Are you continuing the involvement with other theater companies around the city?

This season we will continue to provide space for other theater companies, which is now formalized through our Resident Companies program. You will see shows by both Teatro Audaz and Miscast Theatre Company in our Cellar. But we are also planning on looping in other companies as well, either by inviting their members or leaders to participate in our programs, or by finding ways to share resources.

American Mariachi plays Sept. 9 through Oct. 2 at the Russell Hill Rogers Theater,  800 West Ashby Place. Tickets are available here

Photos courtesy Public Theater of San Antonio.