Our Puerto Rican Traveling Theater is abuzz with energy, action, music, technology, and fun. The occasion? We are embarking on a new journey with the Off-Broadway launch of a new theater rocket! That is, with a powerful cast and creative team under the direction of Leyma López, we are in full rehearsal mode of The Desire of the Astronaut.

The production is a full restaging of our two-part premiere at Pregones Theater in The Bronx in 2014/16. Authored —books and lyrics— by Alvan Colón Lespier. Our official press release says it best: “It is an original musical theater play inspired by autobiographical accounts and actual training missions of NASA personnel. The production explores the alluring myth and popular iconography of space conquest and science fiction, centering on the character of Esteban Only, the last Boricua in space.”  But where is he, really?

Working alongside composer and Pregones/PRTT Musical Director Desmar Guevara, Alvan —who is also one of our company’s Associate Artistic Directors— conceived, developed, and wrote this powerful piece. The original production featured an ensemble of actors, musicians, and designers that seemed to float as they discovered, reflected, and performed this beautiful piece. And guess what?! The original Esteban Only, actor Jesús E. Martínez, is back! It lifts my spirits to watch him in full force, surrounded by an ensemble of actors, some who have performed on several of our productions, and others who are performing on our stage for the first time.

Not Up In Space, but still far far away from NYC:
Right here I am compelled to share a beautiful anecdote: Imagine. Bratislava, Slovakia.  We are there to teach a workshop at the International Theater Festival, at the invitation of our amazing friends and theater partners of Divadlo Z Pasáže. At the workshop, Desmar and I offered lines from our various plays. The participants, all women, chose “ever since I was a child, I wanted to fly.” Yes! A line from The Desire of the Astronaut. Their task was to take, dismantle, re-create and give new meaning to the line. And they did!  They improvised a new melody, which Desmar aptly followed in the piano at the studio we were using. The arrangement grew, movement deepened its meaning, “flying” took off like a shuttle, as we then dived into a Slovak traditional melody that pushed their bodies further, as if reaching for the stars.

This is just one example of how the specificity of a line, of a moment, from a script created by Alvan Colón Lespier for PregonesPRTT in The Bronx, had relevance in Slovakia among a group of amazing Slovak artists.

Together at last!
As we chose dates in our Season for the restaging of The Desire of the Astronaut, Alvan decided that he would be stepping back, watch and relish the process in the hands of another director, working alongside Desmar, whose original composition is brilliant. In comes Leyma López, a Pregones/PRTT family member who has worked with us on various roles over the years and whose vision for the piece aligned perfectly with Alvan’s. And someone he completely trusted to make the aesthetic calls necessary to bring the piece to a new level of performance. Desmar was inspired to go in a different direction with the execution of the music and, working alongside Leyma, he has built sound and environmental impact to an already powerful composition.

So, as Esteban gets ready to fly, I too look back at my own childhood desires to go places, to fly, to take off, and of course, to land. Well, The Desire of the Astronaut takes off at Puerto Rican Traveling Theater starting May 2nd, and we hope it will land in your hearts, as we celebrate the story, the talent of our powerful ensemble cast, the sounds, the visuals, each moment.

BUT WAIT! THERE IS MORE! – The Bronx is Next!

Our Season continues with a great menu of mixed and delicious offerings including:

Let’s begin with The Desire of the Astronaut. Let’s fly together!

PICTURED TOP: 2024 rehearsal photos by Krystal Pagán. BOTTOM: Original illustration by Jeison Rivera.

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