When I was a child we lived in the town of Comerío, Puerto Rico, where I was born. My parents used to take us what were then long journeys to San Juan, to go to the theater and street celebrations. I can’t remember the twists and turns of the road, but somehow, very often we often heard either our Dad or our Mom say: “Mira El Cotorrito” (Look at El Cotorrito—the little parrot), with a smile and/or occasional laugh. Well, they never explained what it was, but in those unspoken words couples used, now I know they couldn’t ignore the significance of it. After all, I never heard them say “mira La Fortaleza!”

As we grew up, and once we moved closer to San Juan, I became familiar with El Cotorrito for a different reason. My Dad was an electrician, and one of his clients was singer Tito Rodríguez, the younger brother of JOHNNY RODRÍGUEZ, the owner of El Cotorrito. Whenever he had to go to Tito’s house to fix something electric, my Dad would say, “I have to go to the Japanese house.” So in summary, I knew my Dad was the electrician of the brother of the owner of El Cotorrito. But I still didn’t know what El Cotorrito was. And then I went to high school. And then I heard stories of the older boys. And I would ask my Dad and he wouldn’t tell me. “It’s just a club for adults” he would say. And of course, we would listen to Tito Rodríguez’s records constantly. And who wouldn’t? He was the famous one, in my mind. An incredibly talented singer. I didn’t become familiar with Johnny’s impactful talents until much later.

And now… I have the immense pleasure of having the Rodríguez brothers back into my surroundings. For an entirely different reason and from a point of view that brings Johnny Rodríguez into a well-deserved center stage. Our stage.

JORGE B. MERCED, the production’s writer and director, is working his magic, building a workshop production of what will be the a highlight production of our Mainstage Season next year. Now is the time to preview where it’s all heading!!

Parrots at The Pagoda harks back to those groundbreaking years when a young Johnny made a name for himself as a composer, singer, and leader of trios, and later on when his hot new revue dedicated to the art of female impersonation, which then gave way to El Cotorrito nightclub, broke through barriers that few thought could be cracked. Regarded as one of the first drag artists in Puerto Rico, Johnny Rodríguez’s career flourished again in New York City and on the island, though not without challenges. Many challenges. And then there is the Pagoda. The house. That house my father used to work in occasionally. And the Parrots? What is the significance of it all?!?!

Working with Johnny’s prolific and acclaimed musical output, newly fashioned in arrangements by DESMAR GUEVARA and RICARDO PONS, and a featuring a fantastic ensemble cast choreographed by VERAALBA SANTA, Jorge is working through his first vision of Parrots at The Pagoda. Performances run for two weekends only, June 20-29th, at Pregones Theater on Walton Avenue in The Bronx!!

What’s not to love?!?


June 29th marks the 45th Anniversary of the founding of Pregones Theater!! Prior to our merger with the legendary Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, we created what felt like a far-fetched dream. But we did it! The Anniversary also marks the end of our Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Season and the beginning of a new one.

What’s in stock?! New works, repertory favorites, guest artists, tours, international exchanges and more!! We’ll bring you up to date as the Summer unfolds.

Click on the image below to get your tickets for Parrots at The Pagoda!

PICTURED TOP: 2024 rehearsal photos by Ernesto Cruz. BOTTOM: Original illustration by Jeison Rivera.

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