Shakespeare – Mariachi style

I attended a play Thursday at the San Gabriel Mission. When I first read the invitation to attend this special performance put on by the East L.A. Classic Theatre Group ( and the City of San Gabriel for students in local districts here in the valley, I was very intrigued and knew I had to go.

The theatre group performs classics such as Shakespeare’s”Much Ado About Nothing” and “Romeo and Juliet”, but adds a unique twist to each of them. As Tony Plana, artistic director and star of TV’s ‘Ugly Betty’, explained it to me, they like to integrate different cultures and ethnicities into their plays and adapt them to themes and locations that are more familiar to the students and local community.

Thursday’s play was an adaptation of “Much Ado About Nothing” – Mariachi Style. The classic story was set in 1862 in the city of Puebla just after the Battle of Puebla, or Cinco De Mayo as most people know it by. The play had the basics of the story – interracial relationships and marriage, gossip – but a little updated and featured Mariachi music songs and with Anglo gold miners and Mexican soldiers as the lead characters.

This definitely made the play more fun and interesting to watch and as far as I could tell, the students were not bored by it at all. The actors portrayed their characters so well and were able to get the students very engaged and involved in the storyline and the message of the story, making it a more memorable and fun experience for them. And for me too.

I love live theatre and think it’s something great that everyone should experience at least once. That’s why it was great for me to hear about this group and what they are trying to do to bring theatre to the students and even sometimes engage them in performing themselves. I think it helps them with their language skills, public speaking and self-confidence and esteem, even if they don’t follow a career in the performing arts

I thank everyone at the mission and the theatre for inviting me to a wonderful event. It was such a pleasure meeting Tony Plana, I’ve admired his work for a long time, and I love what he and the theatre group stand for.

The theatre group held the performances for students Thursday and today, Friday, coming from San Gabriel schools and a San Gabriel senior group as well as schools from El Monte, Montebello and more. 

But they are also offering a free community performance Saturday evening at 8 p.m. that is open to everyone. If you have the time, I would suggest trying to make this special performance. Check the theatre group’s website above for more information about the group and call (213) 300-5871 to reserve a seat.