"Sotto Voce" is a dream play in which a passionate, Jewish-Cuban young man (Saquiel) sets out to recover memories of the S.S. St. Louis which, in 1939, left Nazi Germany for Cuba filled with Jewish refugees but was turned back by Cuba, the U.S. and Canada. The young man's grandaunt was on the voyage. He seeks out a prominent, elderly, German-born novelist (Bemadette) who, as a young woman, loved a Jewish man who was a passenger to Cuba on the ship. Saquiel assumes the place of her lost lover in her powerful imagination. They both begin to fantasize a metaphysical love affair in which they share the conundrum of coming to grips with memories of that "voyage of the damned." She is trying to master them, he is seeking to understand them. The play venerates the supreme power of imagination that could bring these different people together.
Such an impossible love could only occur in another dimension, not the physical dimension. As a counterpoint to their experience, we meet the author's understanding maid (Lucila), an undocumented immigrant from Colombia, who hordes her employer's discarded writings (her "secret sorrows") but is incapable of living to such an extent.
Essentially, the play is a beautiful story of an older woman and younger man who find a unity of souls through their relationship with history and literature. It illustrates a holding on to memory that is very prevalent among Cubans as it is with the Jewish people. Playwright Nilo Cruz was born into a Cuban family which immigrated to the U.S. from Matanzas, a province of Cuba, when he was ten. Though not Jewish, observes that there are many Jews in Cuba, who arrived there before and after World War II. "The Cubans understand the Jews in a way they would never be aware of," he says. The play is not political, but it is rich with the refugee experience and with the emotional life of the characters.
Andhy Mendez (Saquiel) was born in Havana, Cuba and immigrated to Miami, Florida at a young age. A ten year veteran of Univision's Sabado Gigante, he is a graduate of The New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. His theater credits include "Strawberry and Chocolate," "Hamlet: Prince of Cuba," "Between Two Worlds," "Downside Risk," "The Duchess of Malfi," "I am a Camera," "Macbeth: Let It Be," "Pullman Car Hiawatha" and "Loved: In Four Shorts." His film/TV credits include "Gunny," "It's My Party," "Half a Perfect World," "Cuban Blood," "For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story," "Orange Is The New Black," "Golden Boy," "Gossip Girl," "NYC 22" and "Blue Bloods."
Arielle Jacobs (Lucila) replaced Jordin Sparks as Nina Rosario in the four-time Tony & Grammy award winning Broadway musical "In The Heights," appearing opposite composer/creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. She appeared in the national tours of "In the Heights" (as Nina) and "High School Musical" (as Gabriella). Other credits include pre-Broadway workshops of "MASK" (directed by Richard Maltby, Jr.) and "Nightingale"
The play also features Franca Sofia Barchiesi as Bemedette, the play begins previews on Thursday, February 13th and officially opens on Saturday, February 15th and runs until March 9th at Theater for the New City in New York. Mr Cruz will also be directing. For more information on the play and how to get tickets, go to www.theaterforthenewcity.net.
But for now, these 3 talents will join forces with Sissy to talk about this exciting new project on The Sissy Gamache Show LIVE this Friday night at 7:30pm EST on MNN Channel 56 Time Warner Cable Manhattan and on our website www.thesissygamacheshow.com