Playwright Elena Maria Garcia and Stuart Meltzer’s “Cuban Chicken Soup”, a one woman comedy starring Garcia, now running through May 19 by Zoetic Stage at the Carnival Studio Theater of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, is a humorous look at Latina and Jewish culture in Miami.

The play is a sequel to the Garcia/Meltzer 2016 production of “Fuacata!”, but those who haven’t seen the original can jump right into the plot without any knowledge of previous characters.

The opening scene has Garcia as the main character Elena, a fortyish wife and mother, sitting in an elegant Miami restaurant with husband Julio (unseen) when he casually mentions that he wants a divorce without giving a reason.

What starts as a dramatic beginning morphs very quickly into a non-stop 90 minute comedy with Garcia using six different voices in portraying 14 characters, 12 Latinas and 2 Jewish, to help Elena find comfort and solace as she goes about her daily life in Miami..

Among the 14 characters, the most memorable are: the aggressive wise cracking male valet in a Miami restaurant, Elena’s young and loud (often yelling) office assistant named Sophie, her aging mother (called Mami), who is feisty, while often forgetful, an ambitious Jewish female politician named Sheva Goldberg, who touts continually about standing up for the rights of women and Sheva’s  mother Beatrice, who complains about her daughter  and a Latino hairdresser named Fausto, who touts Elena and  all his female clients as beautiful people.

Actress Elena Maria Garcia expresses surprise and anger as one of her characters in “Cuban Chicken Soup”, running now through May 19 at Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami. Photo Credit: Morgan Sophia.

The laughs stem from familiar scenes and situations in Miami Latina and Jewish culture that Garcia pokes fun at through her portrayal of the characters. Garcia never bores the audience with her ability to use six voices to showcase the funny, outlandish characters with many punch lines, along with facial expressions that generate even more laughs.

Some examples of the funny characters include the male valet flirting with Elena while she dodges him learning to navigate parking in a crowded Miami restaurant;  the many complaints of Sophie, who is pregnant with a bad case of acid reflux and planning a shower for her baby; Mami, who lives with Elena and is banned from cooking with the microwave oven after causing many fires by using aluminum foil inside the microwave;  Beatrice who frowns on Sheva using her 80th birthday party as a political fundraiser for her guests by changing admission, and Fausto, who tours every woman to have the beauty of actress Audrey Hepburn.

The most memorable line in “Cuban Chicken Soup: has Elena talking to the unseen Julio on the phone insisting that one of the conditions of her divorce is for Julio to have custody of Mami.

The most memorable scene in the play comes when Garcia, as Fausto, leaves the stage and goes into the audience and speaks of how much they are like Audrey Hepburn, to the delight of the women in the audience. It is reminiscent of the skit on the “Saturday Night Live” television show in which actor Billy Crystal portrayed Fernando Lamas with the catchphrase “You look marvelous, absolutely marvelous” in a Spanish accent.

The many facial expressions of actress Elena Maria Garcia in “Cuban Chicken Soup”, running now through May 19 at Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami. Photo Credit: Chris Head Shots.

Garcia’s many gifts include her knowledge of comic timing, having a flair for improvisational comedy and basing her fictional characters on people she knows growing up in Miami, including her mother Mami. The characters of Beatrice and Sheva Goldberg came from Garcia’s writing partner Stuart Meltzer, the Artistic Director of Zoetic Stage, who is Jewish.

Adding to the fast pace and humor in the play is sound designer Matt Corey, especially for the scene with Elana fumbling with door slams while driving her car out of a parking lot.

Actress Elena Maria Garcia stars in the Zoetic Stage one woman comedy “Cuban Chicken Soup”, written by Garcia and Stuart Meltzer, running now through May 19 at the Carnival Studio Theater of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd. in downtown Miami. Show times are 7:30 p.m. evenings and 2:30 p.m. for matinee shows. Tickets range from $55-60.

For more information, go to arshtcenter.org or call 305-949-6722.

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