The Column Online



by Kristoffer Diaz

Artes de la Rosa Cultural Center for the Arts

Director – Adam Adolfo
Associate Director Choreographer – Austin Ray Beck
Fight Choreographer –Matthew Perry Smith
Scenic Design – Bradley Gray
Lighting Design – Kyle Harris
Costume Design – Adam Adolfo
Sound Design – Mark Howard
Technical Director—Bradley Gray
Stage Manager – Beatriz Alvarado

Elizabeth Thresher – Lelly Santiago
Alexander Sauceda –The Crew
Loagan Hudson – The Crew
Fidencio Vazquez – The Crew
Celeste Spangler – The Crew
Nathan Scott – The Crew
Mindamora Rocha – The Crew
Jordan Justice – Trip “Trizzy” Goldstein
Magdiel Carmona – Nel “Nelly” Cardenal
Kyle R. Trentham – Alejandro Arroyo
Emma Leigh Montes – Amalia “Molly” Arroyo
Matthew Perry Smith – Officer Derek

Reviewed Performance: 5/21/2016

Reviewed by Angela Newby, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

Artes de la Rosa has brought the Regional Premier of Welcome to Arroyo’s to Ft. Worth and it does not disappoint. Each and every element is well designed and made specifically to make the audience not only watch this show, but become part of it.

Adam Adolfo, Director and Costume Designer, has pulled together a cast that when brought together produces magic on the stage. Costumes were simple and perfect for the hip hop era. The Crew was decked out in varying black bottoms and tops of either blue or purple. Officer Derek was proudly decked out in NYPD’s finest, while Lelly was spot-on in her academic nerdy role with her business casual outfits. The Arroyo siblings were more diverse to show off the nature of their characters. Molly showed off her artistic flair in trendy clothes, while Alejandro’s stiffness shined in khakis and button down shirts. Adolfo used the costumes to add depth to each character and pull their personalities out.

Associate Director and Choreographer, Austin Ray Beck, shines in this production. The hip hop moves were well thought through and shows the talent of The Crew. My favorite part of the choreography though comes at the very end of the stage where each and every member of the cast was allowed to shine in the last dance scene. Beck specifically has designed this scene to highlight each character and to draw them out to completion. Matthew Perry Smith designed the fight choreography and they were realistic and perfectly timed.

Bradley Gray’s scenic design was straight forward and allows for the choreography to shine within the design. The black background allows The Crew to become the murals and stand out against it. The lounge was set up as a typical bar with a high top bar with barstools, multiple two-top tables, and a pool table. On the floor in front of the stage was the “home” of the DJ’s and a dumpster attracts the budding romance between characters. Gray’s design of the liquor well hanging above the stage was awesome and showed the attention to detail among the design.

Lighting Design by Kyle Harris was overall outstanding, yet there were a few execution issues that at times had the actors performing in the shadows. The use of direct spotlights and varying colors added to the tone of the play from the words of the script. My favorite use was the blue and purple coloring whenever The Crew was ready to perform. It set the tone perfectly with the rest of the action on stage.

Mark Howard’s Sound Design was spectacular. Once the house was open, Howard’s brilliance was already on display. The pre-show sounds included every nuance of life in The Big Apple, car horns, sirens, people talking, and all the other noises you would hear outside at night. Execution was perfect throughout the show especially with the bell for the door.

Before the play even began, the two DJ’s for the night, were setting up and already interacting with the audience. Jordan Justice, Trip “Trizzy” Goldstein and Magdiel Carmona, Nel “Nelly” Cardenal, were the perfect duo for this role and their charisma and charm oozed from them from start to finish. Justice was the epitome of the white rapper, and while he was more backup to Carmona’s full on raps, Justice was able to draw the crowd in with his bright smile. Carmona on the other hand, had the Latino rapper down; he could throw down and wipe the floor with any other artists. Both Justice and Carmona’s use of hand gestures and swift movements kept the pace of the show up and was a perfect combination for this narrating duo.

Alejandro Arroyo played by Kyle R. Trentham, was the lounge owner and brother to Molly. Trentham nailed the persona of a bartender through his thoughtful gazes, perfect eye contact, and soft tones. While there were some missed lines, Trentham was able to recover. Trentham truly shows his ability as an actor when the play hits the high notes of discourse and his angry side was spot on with his red face, deeper vocals, and his stiff stance.

Elizabeth Thresher plays Lelly Santiago, the nerdy academic who was looking to make the name of Reina Rae known to the world. Thresher was able to pull this off with her wide eyes, bright smiles, and constant bounces and wringing of her hands. Yet it was Thresher’s vocal inflection that truly showed her character’s personality. It was easy to distinguish between Lelly’s duel role of narrator and academia through the stance that Thresher took.

Amalia “Molly” Arroyo was portrayed by Emma Leigh Montes. Molly was struggling in the midst of the loss of her mother and trying to find her own way. Montes’s uses of strong vocals were so powerful that they vibrated off of the stage and this only highlighter Molly’s anger. Yet it was Monte’s worried brow, hunched posture, and soft-spoken tone that emphasized her character’s side of loss and desperation. Monte’s has obvious chemistry with Smith and this only enhances the love story that grows throughout the play.

Officer Derek, Matthew Perry Smith, was the embodiment of a New York City police officer. Smith’s use of vocal inflection, rigid posture, and hands constantly on his belt, showed his dominance and power in the city. Officer Derek though has a soft side toward Molly, and Smith perfectly contrasts his officer role through his genuine smile and softer tones to highlight this budding relationship.

The Crew consisted of Alexander Sauceda, Loagan Hudson, Fidencio Vazquez, Celeste Spangler, Nathan Scott, and Mindamora Rocha. Their execution of the choreography was beautiful, yet it was their facial expressions throughout the show that allowed the skillful interaction between stage and audience to occur. The heartbeat of the show followed The Crew as they brought hip hop to life.

Artes de la Rosa has done it once again and has outdone it with the production of Welcome to Arroyo’s. This is a show that highlights the hip hop revolution and how one individual can change it forever, and bring a community together forever. The audience’s laughing and bright smiles afterwards were credit to a job well done.

Artes de la Rosa Cultural Center for the Arts, 1440 N Main St., Fort Worth, TX 76164
Runs through June 5th

Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday-Saturday at 8:00pm, and Sunday, June 5th at 3:00pm. Tickets are $12.00-$16.00 For info and to purchase tickets, go to or call 817-624-8333.