Theater Review: ‘Zorro’ at Constellation Theatre Company

Danny Gavigan as Zorro and Stephanie LaVardera as Lolita. Photo by Andrew Propp.

Danny Gavigan as Zorro and Stephanie LaVardera as Lolita. Photo by Andrew Propp.

One of the rules of theatre is always know what you want your show to be. If you want it to be a comedy, that’s great. If you want something darker, that’s fine too. Unfortunately, even with good production values and fine acting, Constellation Theatre Company’s current production of Zorro falls short in the “what is it supposed to be” category.

Danny Gavigan’s Zorro and the rest of the cast—plus, Casey Kaleba’s fights—make this show worth the trip.

Playwrights Janet Allard and Eleanor Holdridge (who also is the director) have made a choice to go considerably darker in their retelling of the story of Zorro, the masked avenger fighting in the best interests of the poor. Along the way there are many of the stock characters you remember. There is the comedic prison guard, a lovely girl for Zorro to fight for, and of course the masked avenger himself. In this version you do get some of the backstory of how Don Diego de la Vega became Zorro. I am not going to tell you how, because that is not my job as a reviewer, but I will say it is a compelling story. My problem is, once that story is established the show can’t decide if it is a Saturday morning serial or a dramatic piece of theatre. Zorro has his own theme song every time he goes to fight someone, and we get into an exaggerated style of acting. I understand what the writers were going for but, at least for me, it did not quite work.

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Danny Gavigan as Zorro. Photo by Andrew Propp.

Danny Gavigan as Zorro. Photo by Andrew Propp.

Having said all of that, there are plenty of reasons you might want to go see this show. Danny Gavigan as Zorro is perfect as the masked avenger, and you do feel a lot for his character. Stephanie LaVardera as the love interest, Lolita, also gives a good performance, and you can really root for her all through the show.

I also would like to single out Andrés C. Talero as Zorro’s nemesis, Capitan Ramon, for turning in a dastardly portrayal.

One has to marvel at the contributions of fight director Casey Kaleba. His sword play elevates the production, proving again that Kaleba is one of DC’s finest artists.

Mariano Vales’ underscore enhances the action and sets the mood perfectly. A.J. Guban has designed a set that puts the audience on either side of the action with the stage in the middle. This is a good choice and makes the audience feel more involved than if this were regular proscenium staging.

While I did like the Eleanor Holdridge’s staging overall, it is always hard to direct something you have written because you are too close to the material. If the writers of Zorro would have let someone else direct the piece, the problems I stated earlier might have been avoided.

Nonetheless Danny Gavigan’s Zorro and the rest of the cast—plus, Casey Kaleba’s fights—make this show worth the trip. While it might not leave its mark on you (no pun intended), if you are a fan of the Zorro films, this show is for you.

Running Time: One Hour and 45 minutes with no intermission

Zorro presented by Constellation Theatre Company plays through Feb 17th, 2013 at Source Theatre which is located at 1835 14th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20009. Tickets can be purchased by calling call 1-800-494-TIXS or you may purchase online.

About Elliot Lanes

Elliot Lanes has been a professional stage manager/sound designer/board op for over 20 years. After relocating to Washington, DC from the New York City area and marrying the girl of his dreams Jennifer Perry, he has been privileged to work on productions at Theatre J, Synetic, Prince George's Community College and Studio Theater to name a few. He has contributed designs for many shows in the last three Capital Fringe Festivals, two of which garnered critical raves. He is also the creator of MD Theatre Guide's highly successful 'A Quick 5' column.