By Benjamin Neufeld
On the evening of Friday, September 30, The River Bride premiered at the Arvada Center’s Black Box theater. This—in addition to a full catalog of other theater productions, gallery exhibitions, and education opportunities—marks a high point for the community center since the onset of the pandemic in 2020. Community members and theater goers attended to welcome the premier of The River Bride and to celebrate this next step into the Arvada Center’s reawakening.
The River Bride by Marisela Treviño Orta, follows two sisters and their family in a small fishing village along the Amazon River in Brazil. The story is based on a Brazilian folktale about “Botos,” river dolphins who become human for three days in June to find the love of their life.
“I think it is a beautiful thing that this is a LatinX play written by a Latina playwright, directed by a Latina director, [with] set and costume design by a Latino designer, a cast comprised of Hispanic and LatinX actors, and a crew and production team that is just as beautifully diverse.”
Jamie Ann Romero, Director, The River Bride
In the words of director Jamie Ann Romero, “The River Bride is about a mysterious man fished from a river just three days before wedding, and two sisters who must choose between their family, their desires, and love.”
The performance was preceded by a reception in the lobby of the Arvada Center. Guests mingled over drinks and appetizers while listening to live classical Spanish guitar music. Jamie Ann Romero gave a short speech in which she thanked the Arvada Center for their commitment “to equity, diversity, inclusion, and access for all.” She said, “I think it is a beautiful thing that this is a LatinX play written by a Latina playwright, directed by a Latina director, [with] set and costume design by a Latino designer, a cast comprised of Hispanic and LatinX actors, and a crew and production team that is just as beautifully diverse.”
The cast features Philip Ambrose, Brandon Billings, Gabriella Cavallero, Katie Rodríguez, Stephanie Saltis, and Matt Zambrano. The set design, by David J. Castellano, defies conventional theater expectations. The actors perform entirely on a structure built to look like a small house and a dock; lights are projected onto the rest of the stage which give the floor the look of a river. This high production quality is carried through the rest of the show as the sound design and other lighting effects compliment the dynamic performances given by the cast.
The River Bride runs until November 6. Shows are held at 7:30pm Thursday through Saturday, with matinees Wednesday at 1:00pm and Sunday at 2:00pm. Get tickets at arvadacenter.org/events/the-river-bride.
Benjamin Neufeld is an Independent Reporter for The Weekly Issue/El Semanario.
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