- Terelle Jerricks
By John Farrell
Trio Los Machos is a story from a world many people know little or nothing about: the struggles and rewards of Mexican men who dedicate their lives to music. And it tells the story in beautiful music, songs of the Trio Los Panchos that have been a staple of Mexican and Mexican-American culture for decades, songs you have heard even if you never knew who wrote them and didn’t understand the words.
If you are lucky, as this reviewer was, you’ll end up sitting next to a man who has grown up with those songs, who can’t help but sing along to the music from his life. In this case it was a former Bracero, now 75, who was seeing a little bit of his story in the play.
Josefina Lopez wrote this play as a tribute to her father. It tells the story of a trio of musicians who came to the United States as Braceros, men hired to do stoop labor picking crops in the U.S. while Americans were fighting overseas in World War II. The program continued until the mid-1960s, and there are still many men on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border who remember the hard work, the low pay and the opportunities the program gave them to make their families a little better off.
A little of that story is told in the play, but it is really about the fifty-year friendship of three men, Lalo, Nacho and Paco. They have been the Trio Los Machos for fifty years, but their partnership ends because of Nacho’s love for Tequila.
In this production, the three friends are portrayed by Miguel Santana (Lalo,) Roberto Garza (Nacho) and Henry Aceves Madrid (Paco). And by Gilbert Rodriguez (the young Lalo,) Josh Duron (young Nacho) and Adrian Quinonez (young Paco), for this story focuses on both ends of their lives–when they are elderly and when they are young when they were Braceros working at hard labor for little money, just starting their career in singing and playing the guitar.
Both trios play with style. The older ones with voices that sound like fifty years have rolled over them, the young ones with the freshness of new discovery. And there is plenty of music from the six players, background musicians, and the two men who later accompany the group: Aurelia (Rocio Mendoza) and Rosario (Claudia Duran). Remarkable music, not all played with technical perfection but from the heart.
The history regarding the Bracero program is affixed firmly in the background of this story. While you hear how the U.S government cheated the workers of some of their pay (a fight that is till being fought), at its heart, this play is about three men with a “macho” spirit and heart, and love each other despite the alcohol, conflicts and even the discovery that one may be gay. This story is also about the spirit of doing something with your life and overcoming obstacles and moving forward.
And the music. There is so much music that it’s thrilling, lovely, and as much a part of this compelling story as the characters themselves. And you can understand and enjoy it even if your seat-mate is quietly singing along.
Tickets are $20, $17 for students, seniors and groups of ten or more. Performances are on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 5 p.m. through July 8.
Details: (323) 263-7684, www.casa0101.org
Venue: Casa 0101 Theater
Location: 2102 E. First St., Boyle Heights