It was 45 minutes into “Ole for Hollywood,” and I sat in the back of Nordhoff Hall’s Little Theatre appreciating the vibrant simplicity of the show. I realized that skipping the complete practice run-through last weekend was the right choice to make.
Seeing the cast in their day clothes performing the entire play without its wacky visual and audio effects and then actually going to see the finished product on opening night would have been terrifyingly similar to the time I saw the “The Sixth Sense” with my mom, and halfway through she correctly guessed the ending (vocally).
There truly is no other way to see this play. “Ole for Hollywood” commands the respect of any late-night TV show on the Telemundo channel with its ridiculously ornate costumes and stage design.
The off-color characters were accentuated by their off-color coordinated costumes. Cheech Marinuana walked the stage with a very leisurely “Born in the East L.A.” stroll, wearing a red velvet pimp suit with leopard skin trim; Montezuma cursed the audience bare-bellied while toting a peacock headdress. The costumes were only a small part of the great escape. The “Ole for Hollywood” stage utilizes a cleverly tacky montage of red and gold curtains and various exaggerated props, such as the demented jumbotron screen that looks to have emerged right out of a Dr. Seuss cartoon. Combined with the confetti patterns lit against the dim red ambience of the room, the whole theater looked like Peewee’s Playhouse shoved into a Picante salsa bottle.
No effects or costumes could be too outlandish for this ensemble of caricature, though.
“It’s over the top,” said co-director Armando Molina, making a wave with his hand.
He then motioned a more exaggerated wave and corrected himself: “It’s over the top of the top.”
Molina’s description of “Ole for Hollywood” was completely on track. It wasn’t just the creativity inherent in the play’s design that was over the top. The jokes themselves pushed the envelope as well.
I found it a satisfying reprieve to watch the various characters in “Ole for Hollywood” trash every shred of political correctness as they acted out some of the most hilariously degenerate scenes I have ever witnessed.
These include, but are not limited to: Cheech Marinuana’s frequent references to and portrayed use of marijuana on stage; the adaptation of the sorrowful prelude to Aztec demise as a dating game show between Montezuma, Cortez and Malinche; and the portrayal of an illegal Mexican day-laborer and his employer as gay lovers seduced by access to free social welfare programs and cheap hourly wages, respectively.
The play’s other co-director, Cris Franco, attributed the play’s success to the audience’s familiarity with the cultures and stereotypes being satirized.
“You laugh at what you know,” he said with a shrug.