Theater Review - Basilica (NY)

The play by Mando Alvardo and directed by Jerry Ruiz is serviceable, but I am sure Jake Cannavale will always remember his debut in  Basilica” on a stage in New York and so will we. This recent high school graduate, who plans to attend Emerson College in the fall, is the son of Bobby Cannavale, one of our most dynamic American actors of stage and screen. Early in the season, Bobby had a featured role in “Glengarry Glen Ross” and just finished a run a star of The Big Knife.  The two may be starting their own theatrical dynasty.


Jake, tall and long-haired, makes a good impression and is likeable here as the teenaged Ray Garza, who is torn between pleasing his parents or starting a future. He has been accepted to a college in Chicago; it is far from his home in San Juan, Texas, but he really wants to go. His parents, Joe and Lela, are struggling with the idea. Seriously religious Lela, the very convincing  Selenis Leyva, leans toward her son being able to leave and make a life. Joe, volatile and more close-minded, insists he stay home and attend a local college.  Felix Solis is powerful as this hard-working man who, fueled by alcohol, is furious at just about everything except his young daughter, Jessica, the cute Yadira Guevara-Prip, who seems too old for the role.  However, that is the problem with the play. Joe is angry at everything and everyone. He is angry at his wife who wants him to stop drinking; he is angry at his sister, Lou, a sassy Rosa Colon, who runs the family bar; he is certainly angry at his son, for going to the new priest Father Gil, for advice.


Ay, there's the rub! Father Gil, a part Alfredo Narcisco plays with a streak of meanness, did a terrible thing to Lela when they were young, and ran away.  He is anxious to give Ray advice on what to do, much to the consternation of Lela and Joe. Tragedy strikes suddenly which catapults all the characters into taking different positions.  Raul Abrego's  neat set lit by Burke Brown, encompasses the church, a bar and the backyard of a home.  Carisa Kelley is in charge of costumes.  Jane Shaw did the Sound; I surmise she was in charge of the music, which had a nice Latin beat.


“Basilica,” a sincere but predictable play, is on the boards at the Cherry Lane Theater through June 22.

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