THE TRUE HISTORY OF THE TRAGIC LIFE AND TRIUMPHANT DEATH OF JULIA PASTRANA THE UGLIEST WOMAN IN THE WORLDWritten by Shaun Prendergast
Lakeside Community Theatre
Directed by Nicole Denson
Stage Manager – Joseph L. Taylor II
Scenic Design – Mike Straub & Nicole Denson
Lighting Design – Rustin Rolen
Costume, Make-up & Hair Design – Hope Cox
Property Design – Elise Knox
Sound Design – Robbi D. Holman
Scent Design – David Barnstein
Board Operator – Jorge Martin Lara
Actor 1 – Autumn McNamara
Actor 2 – Kelton Neals
Actor 3 – Ellen Bell
Actor 4 – Tyler Pietruszewski
Actor 5 – Maddie Hatch
Chorus – Stephen Hyatt
Chorus – Melissa Hatch
Lent – Spencer Liles
The Showman – Chris Wooley
Julia Pastrana – Araceli Radillo
Reviewed Performance: 11/2/2019
Reviewed by Chris Hauge, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
The audience enters the theater and encircles the set designed by Mike Straub & Nicole Denson. We are at the Circus, more specifically, the freak show. Colored canvas billows above us. The base of the stage is circled with a ring of sawdust and the walls have posters of the various oddities to be displayed for our pleasure. A single lamp hangs from the ceiling and in the pool of light it provides, The Showman (Chris Wooley) welcomes us to the world of the weird and the wonderful. Then the light goes out and the entire history of Julia (Araceli Radillo) and her manager/husband Lent (Spencer Liles) explodes to life before us.
The play is based upon the life of Julia Pastrana, an indigenous Mexican girl born in 1834 with a genetic condition that caused thick black hair to cover her face and body and a medical condition that enlarged her nose and ears. Billed as “The Apewoman”, “The Bear Woman”, and “The Nondescript”, Julia toured the United States and Europe with her manager and husband, Theodor Lent, until her death during childbirth at the age of 26 in Moscow in 1860, The exploitation of Julia, whose act consisted of singing, dancing, reading Shakespeare and interacting with the audience, extended through her life. This is the story that playwright Shaun Prendergast and the cast assembled by director Nicole Denson tell us with passion and heart.
Sitting in the dark, the audience is bombarded with sounds and smells, and each playgoer constructs their own world of Julia Pastrana. Moving through the dark with complete confidence, the cast provides us the material to imagine our picture of Julia as it impacts each person uniquely and powerfully. It is theatre stripped down to its basics, and Lakeside Community Theatre has given us an unforgettable experience.
Araceli Radillo is the voice of Julia. She provides us the vehicle with which to bring this character to life and her voice aches with longing and fragility and embodies the intelligence and culture that are obscured by the monstrosity of the body that we are called upon to imagine for her. There is glory in Ms. Radillo’s voice, and at the end of the play I found myself haunted by it.
Spencer Liles’ Lent, in contrast, is all gruffness and ambition. You can tell by the sound of his voice and his actions described to us that Lent is the true monster. I am glad I couldn’t see him in person (the image in my head was bad enough) because I might have thrown something at him. The power of Mr. Liles’ voice gave you all you needed to know.
Chris Wooley made for a wonderfully extravagant Showman and I must also acknowledge Autumn McNamara, Kelton Heals, Ellen Bell, Tyler Pietruszewski, Maddie hatch, Stephen Hyatt, and Melissa Hatch for their incredible ensemble work. They provided the singing and dancing and vocal pyrotechnics that brought this epic production to life. Thank you for your total commitment to this play.
So please, step right up. Playing in the center ring is the grand creation of your imagined world, guided by the gifted cast and crew assembled by the Lakeside Community Theatre in The Colony. Feel the sadness, share the triumph, and the be blinded by the splendor of the life of Julia Pastrana, brought to life-inside your own mind! It’s an experience not to be missed!
Lakeside Community Theatre
November 1 – November 16, 2019
November 8, 9, & 15 – 8:00PM
November 16 – 3:00PM
6303 Main Street, The Colony, TX 75056
For Tickets and information call 214-801-4869
Or visit on the Web at www.lctthecolony.com