• Jen Norris

Review: Rogelio Lopez & Dancers presents “Entre Despierto y Dormido” Joe Goode Annex Oct 14 & 15, 22

"It's delightful, it's delicious. It's delectable, it's delirious,” these Cole Porter lyrics summarize the experience of watching Rogelio Lopez & Dancers’ Entre Despierto y Dormido. The creativity, the attention to detail, and the delivery of this show is AMAZING! Lopez gets almost all the credit as the production’s creator, lead performer, scenic, lighting and costume designer, as well as having scenic and costume construction responsibilities. I say almost all because featured dancers, Kevin Gaytan and Matt Han, hit just the right note with each new set of characters they embody. As we begin, Lopez, a queer immigrant from Mexico (via Fresno) sits at a desk. Disgusted and exhausted from yet another ridiculous racial equity meeting on Zoom with six well-meaning but clueless White colleagues, he climbs into bed. Over the course of the next hour, Lopez’s nightmares, day dreams, wet dreams, secret longings and aspirations come to light through danced vignettes. The dreams each have their own soundtrack, costumes, and personas performed with zeal by Gaytan and Han. Lopez plays himself throughout. His journey takes him from self-loathing closeted boy to multifaceted mature gay man. The stage is empty but for a changing room in the corner of the Joe Goode Annex stage. It is from this closeted area that the characters from Lopez’s musings appear. The bed is vertical, like a Murphy Bed that never opens. The bedframe is drawn onto the closet wall. Its sheet and pillows, made of cream satin with a bold red rose print, hang from wall-hooks. Lopez stands with the sheet across himself, his head leaning on a pillow. He puts on an eye mask, claps twice, and blackout. Andy Williams’ Moon River plays. Gaytan and Han enter in baby doll pajamas of the same satin rose print as the bed linens. They are fey fairy godmothers waltzing with each other. They wake Lopez. He kisses their hands as they flit away. Dancing with his pillow Lopez performs a broad ballet spoof. His hands beating quickly, in place of his feet, as typically balletic entrechat would be too difficult. The guitar licks of Guatemalan singer-songwriter Gaby Moreno’s Quizás, Quizás, Quizás are heard. Moving with the bravado of gay male strippers, Gaytan and Han enter wearing only thongs and over-the-knee stiletto boots. Their focus is Lopez. He is initially uncomfortable with their attention, though by the end of their kinky dance he is slyly delighted. My favorite moment in this section finds Lopez standing with a near naked man upside down spreadeagle in his arms, their crotch in his face. After that lustful dance Lopez returns to bed to pray. His mind and hands wandering toward self-pleasure before he catches himself and self-flagellates instead. The operetta stylings of Pussy Tourette singing “I hope he’s not queer” fill the air. In nineteen-fifties housewife drag, yellow wigs, skirts with crinolines, corsets, and red heels, their chests bare, Gaytan and Han return to dance and prance. The audience chuckles at the final lyric, “why won’t he touch my snatch? I think he’s gay.” In a gay bar a mysterious man salsas with Lopez. They are both excellent dancers showing off their moves. The salsa evolves into a contemporary duet and then into a deep mutual kiss. They seem a well-matched couple until Lopez peels out of the kiss. in an ominous red downlight, he experiences a panic attack, trembling and hunched over. The sounds of laughing taunts from a crowd are heard. The next section moved between fantasy and nightmare. A person wearing a large white cardboard bunny head and another in a fox head take the stage. They perform a magic act, which cleverly includes pulling rainbow scarves from the bunny’s ass. They blindfold Lopez and stab him with a cartoonishly small knife. In place of blood giant bright pink glitter explodes from his chest. The creatures exit holding hands. The show is theatrical, extremely entertaining and carries a punch. It covers the immigrant experience in America including: bearing White people’s guilt, being told to speak English, or that your accent is a problem, or that your name is too difficult to pronounce or learn. The performers also present an amusing but honest look at the hurdles queer Latinx men face in holding on to their culture while owning their sexuality. The final sections where Lopez embraces his dance heritage are supremely moving. First, he performs the male portion of a folklórico dance. His posture proudly erect, his hard soled boots creating the complicated syncopated rhythms. Later he returns, having shed his straw hat and red neckerchief and replaced his white pants and shirt with a gorgeous full-skirted dress. His skirts swirling to fill the stage, Lopez performs a heartfelt version of the traditionally female baile folklórico role.

The show ends on a humorous note. Moon River Cha Cha plays lending an ambiance of a sixty’s television sitcom. Lopez is asleep once more, before a rooster crows. Adorned in floral robes and terrycloth headwraps, Gaytun and Han carry large cardboard boxes onstage. They proceed to pack up the production’s props and costume pieces. Eventually they pack themselves into wardrobe boxes. After blowing us a final coy air kiss they disappear leaving Lopez centerstage literally tied to his desk. My only disappointment is the much too short two-night run. I hope this production gets a remount or touring grant soon. I will send all my friends to see it. Review by Jen Norris published October 17, 2022


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Production credits:

Entre Despierto y Dormido

Produced by Rogelio Lopez & Dancers

Performed at Joe Goode Annex, San Francisco

October 14 & 15, 2022


Dancers: Kevin Gaytan, Matt Han, Rogelio Lopez


Original Text – Rogelio Lopez, performed by Shaunna Vella


Rehearsal Director & Stage Manager: Andrew Merrell

Scenic, Lighting & Costume Design: Rogelio Lopez

Scenic & Costume Construction: Rogelio Lopez

Costume construction assistant: Andrew Merrell


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