June 20-29, 2024

A Workshop Production of a PregonesPRTT work in development

Limited Run Workshop Production
Conceived and Directed by Jorge B. Merced
Musical Director Desmar Guevara

A drag origins story inspired by the life and works of Johnny Rodríguez, standout musician, pioneering drag artist and empresario, owner of legendary El Cotorrito club in Puerto Rico, and brother to Tito “El Inolvidable” Rodríguez

 

ABOUT JOHNNY: Johnny Rodriguez was a Puerto Rican singer and composer, and one of the pioneers of radio in Puerto Rico. Many consider him to be the precursor of trio music in the island. At the pinnacle of his career, Johnny was possibly the highest-paid Latin artist in New York City, the first to have a radio spot on the CBS network and the first Puerto Rican artist to appear on North American television.

Regardless of his extensive career, for some he is merely iconic singer Tito Rodriguez’s older brother. But for many he is also dearly known for being the regent of El Cotorrito, the nightclub dedicated to cross-dressing that he founded in 1960. He is also regarded as one of the first drag artists in Puerto Rico.

 

UNSPECIFIED – CIRCA 1970: Photo of Tito Rodriguez Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

ABOUT TITO: Tito Rodríguez was a Puerto Rican singer and bandleader often regarded as one of the pioneers of Latin music in the United States. He started his career singing under the tutelage of his brother, Johnny Rodríguez. In the 1940s, both moved to New York, where Tito worked as a percussionist in several popular rhumba ensembles, before directing his own group to great success during the 1950s. His most prolific years coincided with the peak of the mambo and cha-cha-cha dance craze. He also recorded boleros, sones, guarachas and pachangas. Rodríguez is known by many fans as “El Inolvidable” (The Unforgettable One), a moniker based on one of his most popular songs, a bolero written by Cuban composer Julio Gutiérrez.

In New York while performing with the orchestra of José Curbelo at the China Doll Cabaret, Tito met a young Japanese chorus girl by the name of Tobi Kei (b. Takeko Kunimatsu), who eventually became his wife.

 

THE PAGODA: When Tito Rodríguez returned to Puerto Rico in 1966, he commissioned a Japanese-style house in Ocean Park, Santurce, for his wife and family. While living there, he launched some of his most memorable projects, such as his own television show called “El Show de Tito Rodríguez”. Among the guest stars that appeared on his show were Sammy Davis, Jr., Tony Bennett, Shirley Bassey, Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda. Tito’s Pagoda became a staple of local culture as well as a testimony of his love for his wife and his island.

June 20-29, 2024 – GET TICKETS>>

 

In-person performances at PREGONES THEATER (575 Walton Avenue in The Bronx)

More About The Artists – Click To Open

JORGE B. MERCED is an acclaimed actor, director, dramaturg, songwriter, and arts educator. As Associate Artistic Director of Pregones/PRTT he plays a key role in the development of the company’s acting and music ensemble, creative methodology, and original repertory, and also leads its lifelong arts learning programs. A graduate of Escuela Libre de Música (Puerto Rico) and the CUNY City College Theater Department (NYC), he later trained in Cuba with Osvaldo Dragún, Eugenio Barba, Miguel Rubio & Teresa Ralli of Yuyachkani at the International Theater School for Latin America and The Caribbean (EITALC 89). He also studied Forum Theater in Brazil and in France with Augusto Boal. He has directed over 20 Off-Broadway Mainstage & workshop productions. Select directing credits include: Fellini’s La Strada, Verano Verano (IATI, NYC), Quarter Rican, Evolution of a Sonero, Aloha Boricua, Neon Baby, El Bolero Was My Downfall, The Marchers, Noche Tan Linda,Las Facultades (Pregones, NYC), Swimming While Drowning (Cara Mía Theater, Dallas, TX). Distinctions include the 2022 Simón Bolívar Lifetime Achievment Award (CUNY), the BRIO Award of The Bronx Council on the Arts, and multiple recognitions for his groundbreaking LGBTQIA-themed Asunción Playwrights Project and juried play competition.  Jorge served on the Nominating Committee of The Lucille Lortel Awards for excellence in Off-Broadway theater (2018-2023).

 

DESMAR GUEVARA, Resident Composer and Musical Director of Pregones/PRTT, is a recognized champion of new music idioms in Latin jazz, a composer of experimental and non-traditional music for live theater and film, and an in-demand pianist with numerous concert, touring, and recording credits. He has composed, arranged, and music directed dozens of ensemble theater productions of varying scale, from chamber to Off-Broadway. He is founding director of chamber jazz ensemble Taller Sicá, founding member of Afro Puerto Rican ensemble Viento de Agua, and has collaborated with many musical luminaries including Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Tito Nieves, Xiomara Fortuna, Andy Montañez, Soledad Bravo, and Danny Rivera. Recent premieres include Grados Inefables, which delves into the esoteric symbolism and philosophies of Freemasonry, co-commissioned by arts presenters in New York, Colorado, and California.

More About PregonesPRTT – Click To Open

Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater (aka Pregones/PRTT) is a multigenerational performing ensemble, multidiscipline arts presenter, and owner/steward of bilingual arts facilities in The Bronx and Manhattan. Our mission is to champion a Puerto Rican/Latinx cultural legacy of universal value through creation and performance of original plays and musicals, exchange and partnership with other artists of merit, and engagement of diverse audiences.

COVID-19 Visitor Safety Info – Click To Open

PLEASE NOTE: The use of face masks is optional and strongly recommended. Masks should fit snuggly against the sides of the face and fully cover the nose and mouth.

Our Esteemed Funders – Click To Open

This program is also made possible, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of the Governor’s Office and the New York State Legislature. For a full list of our funders, visit www.pregonesprtt.org.

Directions to Pregones Theater in The Bronx – Click To Open

Pregones Theater
575 Walton Avenue 
(b/w 149th & 150th Streets)
The Bronx, NY 10451

Trains # 2, 4, 5 to 149th Street & Grand Concourse

For more information call us at 718-585-1202

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Event Details

  • Location

    Pregones Theater in The Bronx

  • Date & Time

    June 20-29, 2024

    Evenings
    Thursdays to Saturdays at 7pm

    Matinees
    Saturdays & Sundays at 3pm

  • Led by

    Jorge B. Merced

    Desmar Guevara

     

    Cast
    TBA

     


    ACTORS’ EQUITY ASSOCIATION The actors and stage managers employed in this production are members of actors’ equity association, the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States. This Theater operates under an Actors’ Equity Association Off-Broadway NYC-LOA.