by Matt Ritchey

A confession: If your show begins with somebody in a fake moustache, I’m already on your side. Fortunately, not only does Force of Nature Productions new show Telenovela, at the Actors Workout Studio, NOHO, start with a fake moustache segment, but over-the-top tropes continue throughout the show and work perfectly for the loving send-up of Mexican daytime soaps.

Gloria Galvin as Ponchito
Carlos R. Hernandez photography

It’s two rival families, the Azucars and the La Jarras (best pronounced in a Captain Kirk cursing out Khan tone: “LA JARRAAAAAAAAAA!!!”) who are about to be united by marriage. Of course, this is all a plan for patriarch Pedro Azucar (a brilliant Sebastian Muñoz) to take over his former-best-friend-but-now-enemy-all-because-of-a-woman Francisco LaJarra’s (Tom Jones) successful winery. All the classic soap tropes are on display, including past romantic escapades, deceit, weddings, and badminton.

The cast does a great job of embodying the archetypes, with Muñoz and Gloria Galvan (as cholo son Panchito LaJarra) as hysterical stand-outs. FON Productions always puts on a good show and the small theater space lends itself to the “small screen” adventures of the two families. The script (by Adam Neubauer) is solid and the choice to have live musicians (in “traditional Mexican attire”) is fun, though the show begins with a slightly-overlong violin gag interrupted by a tone-breaking mandatory safety-and-welcome-to-our-show announcement which could have been finessed into the production so it wouldn’t have been quite as jarring.

Once the show begins in earnest, however, we’re treated to a great cast doing appropriately-broad comedy with tried-but-true gags and a ton of energy (hats off to Kerry Kazmierowicztrimm for his badminton-instructor passion). Director Joe Camareno keeps the pacing tight and funny and the tone is spot-on, down to the fiesta decorations and family photo.

Featuring Jon Agurcia, Carlos Chavez, Redetha Deason, Anatol Felsen, Lara Fisher, Gloria Galvan, Michael Guthrie, Brett Gustafson, Tom Jones, Kerry Kazmierowicztrimm, Meghan Lewis, Sebastian Muñoz, Robert J. Watson & Anne Westcott.

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Photos by Carlos R. Hernandez photography

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