The Source for Media Coverage of The Arts in Miami.
Articles, reviews, previews and features on dance and music performances and events.
Sign Up
No one logged in. Log in

“The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity,” Wrestling an Extreme Satirical Take Down


Photo: Todd Allen Durkin as a wrestling mastermind horrifies Pierre Jean Gonzalez as one of his fall guys in Miami New Drama’s “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity;” Photo credit:: Stian Roenning
Written by: Christine Dolen
Article Rating

Kristoffer Diaz’s searing, hilarious and all-too-resonant play “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” isn’t new to South Florida. The 2009 script, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, made its area debut in 2012 in a fierce and fine production at Boca Raton’s Caldwell Theatre Company just a few months before the long-running regional powerhouse folded.

Now “Chad Deity” has returned to wrestle again, this time as an excellent, bombastic show at Miami Beach’s Colony Theatre. A coproduction of Miami New Drama and Sarasota’s Asolo Repertory Theatre, where it debuted last April, this new “Chad Deity” has one key underlying element that the Caldwell’s version of course did not: Donald Trump in the Oval Office.

That reality, and the country’s sociopolitical upheaval during the president’s first year in office, has given Diaz’s flashy yet moving script an even more powerful satirical bite. In other words, the crushing of American Dreams and the extreme stereotyping of those who don’t happen to be Caucasian feels ripped from today’s headlines. Or Tweets.

Director Jen Wineman, nearly all of the key cast members and the design team are New York-based, and their work on the Asolo production of “Chad Deity” won them multiple awards (including best production of a play) from Sarasota Herald-Tribune arts editor and theater critic Jay Handelman.

The major cast change for Miami New Drama’s mounting of the show is having Carbonell Award-winning actor Todd Allen Durkin in the role of insatiably avaricious wrestling titan Everett K. Olson. Durkin, a veteran stage actor with a growing list of television credits and an ongoing radio gig at 102.7 The Beach, fits snugly with the rest of the cast, just as snugly as that part of the wrestling costume one of the guys dubs “spandex panties.”

“The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” is set in the world of professional wrestling, yet another tie to our WWE-loving commander-in-chief.

The play’s narrator and designated fall guy is Macedonio “Mace” Guerra (Pierre Jean Gonzalez), a Bronx-raised pro of Puerto Rican descent. Mace explains that he grew up watching wrestling on TV with his two older brothers as they chowed down on a generic (and pretty bad) version of Frosted Flakes. He came to revere the scripted “sport,” aspired to be a part of it and now works for Olson, called EKO by the men who work for him at the play’s fictional THE Wrestling.

Mace’s primary job is to lose matches to the current champ, swaggering Chad Deity (Garrett Turner).Chad is a sharp-dressing, trash-talking African-American made wealthy by EKO’s understanding of the bloodlust wrestling fans have for watching an all-American “good” guy demolish a “bad” guy full of anti-American animus.Trouble is, Chad isn’t much of a wrestler, so Mace’s job is to make him look good with moves like the powerbomb, in which he does all the work as Chad slams him to the mat.

When Mace meets Vigneshwar Paduar (Raji Ahsan), a charismatic Indian-American Brooklynite who flows among cultures like no one he’s ever seen, the professional fall guy sees his chance to ascend and make some serious money.

He takes his new pal to EKO, who horrifies both men with his latest brainstorm:Mace will now wrestle as an America-hating Mexican called Che Chavez Castro, while Vigneshwar (called VP by the many who don’t even try to pronounce his name) will be transformed into USA-loathing Muslim dubbed The Fundamentalist.

And “Chad Deity” then gets even crazier.

Wineman and her creative team – set designer Tim Mackabee, lighting designer Alan C. Edwards, projection designer Alex Basco Koch, costume designer Eduardo Sicango, sound designer Luqman Brown and fight director Michael Rossmy – have made “Chad Deity” an immersive multimedia experience, one that delivers all the flashy excess professional wrestling demands while also conveying the play’s themes and more meaningful moments.

And know this: Actual, violent-appearing wrestling moves get made in a ring that slides out to be surrounded on three sides by an audience that sometimes feels the need to duck. Chad makes it rain money, and the bills have his picture on them (natch). And it’s just a matter of time before a deluge of shiny red, white and blue confetti creates a nightmare for the Colony’s cleaning crew.

The cast is sublime. Because Gonzalez’s Mace is so sympathetic as he opens up about his past, his dreams and the jingoistic world EKO is peddling, we watch the action through his eyes. Ahsan infuses his VP with charisma on steroids, and his dance with Mace soon after the characters team up will make you wish these two had their own show.

Turner makes Chad almost cartoonish in his narcissism, a demanding and deeply self-satisfied guy whose favorite person is the one smiling back at him from a mirror. Durkin lets the audience see EKO’s box office-focused mental wheels turning, and you know that his red baseball cap sporting the words “Make America Chad Again” is an exploitative nod to EKO’s imagined BFF and role model, the rah-rah USA prez.

Pro wrestler Jamin Olivencia plays a variety of body-slamming stereotypes as three different opponents. Gabriel Bonilla is the cameraman who zeroes in on the action, while Monica Lynne is a noisily enthusiastic audience plant.

In addition to EKO’s red cap, a few other markers from the United States in 2018 have been slipped into the production. Mace brings up the continuing lack of power for too many Puerto Ricans. There’s a reference to Oprah at the Golden Globes, and briefly an image of a sign reading “U.S. Border Wall Ahead” flashes onto a screen on the set.

Diaz, a story editor for the Netflix women’s wrestling series “Glow,” created a play that is flamboyantly theatrical, witty and illuminating in “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity.” If you missed it earlier (or even if you didn’t), Miami New Drama is providing a highly entertaining way to ponder how we do – or don’t – respect and care for one another in our contentious country.

“The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” by Kristoffer Diaz, Miami New Drama-Asolo Repertory Theatre production at the Colony Theatre, 1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, through Feb. 18. Cost: $30-$59; 800-211-1414 or www.colonymb.org.

 


Leave a comment...
Must be Logged in
No one logged in. Log in
Leave a comment...
Was this helpful?
No Very

Captcha Image

About The writer

{module_webapps,16730,i,{tag_writer_id}}

When the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater returns to town this week, Miami native son Jamar Roberts will take center stage. As one of the company’s star dancers, he has long shined as a performer. B..

He says his dance comes from his dreams. French-Algerian choreographer Hervé Koubi’s most recent work, “What the Day Owes the Night” combines Sufi rhythms with cutting edge b-boy moves, class..

A world premiere always comes with a drum roll. And, throughout the years, Miami City Ballet has brought to light its fair share of resounding new works. Still, Brian Brooks’ freshly-minted O..

Wednesday night at the Arsht Center’s Knight Concert Hall the South Florida Symphony Orchestra in collaboration with the Martha Graham Dance company presented “Appalachian Spring Suite” and “The R..

Cooking may be Dan Froot’s favorite thing. This is saying a lot since Froot is also a composer, a dancer, a sax-player, a play-wright, an oral-historian -- an all-around performance artist an..

With the closing of Tigertail Productions last year, Miami lost one of its preeminent artistic champions. Under the direction of founder Mary Luft, Tigertail brought an endless parade of boundary-..

Anytime would be a good time to devote a dance program to the works of Jerome Robbins, our most versatile and celebrated American-born choreographer. But, given that 2018 marks the centennial..

Due to winter storms in the Northeast impacting travel, with great regrets the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company announced the cancellation of the Saturday, Jan. 6 performance. At age..

It is fitting at this time of the year that our thoughts often turn to what connects us not what divides us. Whether we are driven by religious or secular motives, many of us are in the spiri..

The end of the 19th century was a golden age for ballet. In 15 years of collaboration, two great Russian geniuses – choreographer Marius Petipa, and composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky – produced ballet st..

Here’s a riddle – name the 1892 box office flop panned by critics for lack of seriousness and for casting too many kids, which has now transformed into a force of nature timed to occur yearly..

It happens every year, right around Thanksgiving, productions of the Nutcracker pop up from coast to coast, marking the start of the holiday season. But on Saturday, Miami audiences have the ..

As Art Week approaches, Miami choreographer Marissa Alma Nick’s Alma Dance Theater is getting ready to add its distinctive voice, rehearsing for the upcoming performance of “Flowers” at the C..

Promising a night of airiness and ardor, Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami will bring “Ballet’s Pointe of Passion” to the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, where the company joins an att..

Great friendships can nurture and prod an artist to make greater work. Think Pablo Picasso and Wifredo Lam, James Baldwin and Toni Morrison, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Such is also the case fo..

It’s a tall order to present a season as surprising as it is moving, as disturbing as it is delightful. Miami-Dade College’s Live Arts 2017-2018 season -- Ojala/Inshallah: Wishes from the Mu..

It was only a few decades ago that finding a professional, locally produced performance was an aerobic dance in itself. But after the Miami City Ballet (established 1985), the New World Schoo..

A 50th anniversary calls for gold in celebration. But Balanchine’s “Jewels”­—a sublime marriage of music and choreography from 1967—brings Emeralds, Rubies,and Diamonds. Those pre..

When the Limon Dance Company returns to Miami-Dade this weekend, it brings with it the powerful vision of founder José Limon. He was a man deeply concerned about and connected to the humanity..

When Cardi B, with her trademark no-filter attitude, raps in her recent hit “Bodak Yellow” – Now I don’t got to dance/I make money move – she has something to sing about, with her smash hit N..

Despite a packed show schedule, including performing with the Frankfurt Opera in “Rinaldo,” Sarasota native, dancer and choreographer James McGinn had a chance to discuss the upcoming dance-opera ..

Anniversaries usually celebrate the success of a partnership with symbolic gifts of crystal, china, silver and gold. For the Arts Ballet Theater of Florida, the company celebrates 20 years of..

The songs are familiar; the love story is also familiar but made fresh in “On Your Feet!,” the musical biography that comes to Miami this week. The narrative of Emilio and Gloria Estefan meet..

Dance lovers in Miami know that for the past two decades the International Ballet Festival of Miami (IBFM) has made the city in September a magnet for the brightest stars in the world of bal..

Orlando Taquechel, dance critic for two decades at the El Nuevo Herald (and now a contributor to Artburst), will have a book signing and discussion of his new book, “La danza in Miami (1998-..

The name Flamenco conjures the machine-gun snap of heels, arms arched overhead, the flick of red fabric and laser-like glares from beneath the starched black brim of a Cordobes hat. At the ed..

Watching Neri Torres rehearse is a study in focus and concentration. She demonstrates each step with an ease developed from years of immersion in the study and performance of Afro-Cuban ..

In the music of Las Cafeteras and Orkesta Mendoza, presented by Fundarte at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center Saturday, the border is no place for walls but rather, a moveable feast. ..

Performance Hall at New World Center was packed Saturday, Feb. 3 for the New Work program, which NWS conductor and artistic director Michael Tilson Thomas introduced as “one of the more adve..

Having grown up in Buenos Aires with a strong interest in music, one would think that Jaime Bronsztein (http://jaimebronsztein.webs.com/) would have slid down the well-lubricated tracks towar..

A creepy old king ogles his beautiful stepdaughter. Powerless to stop him, her mother, the queen, protests drunkenly. The girl, age maybe 12 or so, falls for the only man who does not lust af..

At first their sound is reminiscent of Bob Marley. Just as plaintive but with added punch. But listen longer -- the more familiar the music feels, the harder it is to pin down. This is t..

People often imagine new artwork is the product of the solitary artist genius slaving away in lonely studios. The South Florida Symphony’s 20th anniversary program foregrounds a different vis..

At an age when many are winding down their working lives, Ignacio Berroa eagerly anticipates a new stage in his career. It would be understandable if the 64-year-old drummer, recognized a..

We know it’s the holiday season when trees light up, menorah candles start to burn, ubiquitous Christmas carols pipe through drugstores, “The Nutcracker” plays on every stage – and in recent ..

Late last year, on Dec. 20, 2016, Romero Britto and Mark Bryn hosted the Great Artists Series Cocktail Reception at the Britto Fine Art Gallery to celebrate the legendary impresaria, Judy Dru..

Después de una serie de actuaciones muy exitosas en varias ciudades del Este del país, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) llega a Miami para ofrecer seis presentaciones del jueves 22 ..

La ofensiva espontánea protagonizada por BalletBoyz y Cie. Herve Koubi el fin de semana pasado en teatros de Fort Laudedarle y Miami, con dos propuestas artísticas absolutamente fuera de seri..

La atracción principal del tercer programa de la temporada 2017-2018 del Miami City Ballet (MCB) que se presentó el fin de semana pasado en el Arsht Center fue el estreno mundial de One Line ..

Llegados en vuelo directo desde Inglaterra, BalletBoyz (Premio Nacional de Danza 2013 a la Mejor Compañía Independiente) ofrecerá el sábado 10 de febrero una función patrocinada por Culture Shock ..

Por dos noches consecutivas, el Miami City Ballet (MCB), que dirige Lourdes López desde 2012, abrió las puertas de sus instalaciones en Miami Beach para ofrecer un encuentro Open Barre con e..

El segundo programa de la temporada 2017-2018 del Miami City Ballet (MCB) dedicado a los 100 años del nacimiento de Jerome Robbins (1918-1998), el gran coreógrafo norteamericano que triunfó ..

2017 fue un buen año para la danza en Miami. El Flamenco Festival nos permitió volver a ver a Jesús Carmona, el Internacional Ballet Festival of Miami (IBFM) sobrevivió al huracán Irma, Dance..

El Miami City Ballet (MCB) presentó por fin en el Arsht Center la nueva producción de su gran espectáculo navideño, el “Cascanueces” de Tchaikovsky y Balanchine, ahora con diseños origin..

La tradicional temporada de Cascanueces del Miami City Ballet (MCB) tendrá algo nuevo este año. La compañía que dirige Lourdes López ha decidido renovar los diseños de la superproducción que..