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"Tortilla" reunites Ferra and Santeiro

Max_ferra_2Max Ferra, the founder of New York's INTAR Hispanic American Arts Center, liked Luis Santeiro's first play -- Our Lady of the Tortilla -- so much that he staged its world premiere at his Manhattan theater in 1987.

Fast forward to 2008.  Santeiro, a writer of the vintage bilingual TV series Que Pasa, U.S.A.? from 1977 to 1979, is still doing Emmy Award-winning work as a longtime writer for Sesame Street, still turning out plays.  And Ferra is now running the Actor's Arena, a bilingual theater training program at Miami Dade College's North Campus.

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Ferra is staging the Miami premiere of Our Lady of the Tortilla, which Santeiro has altered so that the comic chaos takes place in Hialeah instead of the original New Jersey setting.  During one crazy weekend, a Cuban-American college kid named Nelson (Bryant Del Toro) brings home his southern belle girlfriend Beverly (Monica Abreu) to meet the family, which prompts Nelson's sleazy brother Eddy (Logan Fernandez)  to hit on her.  Mama Dahlia (Alejandra Cossio) is determined to keep her straying hubby from seeing his new squeeze. Her sister Dolores (Lizaida Mansito) spies the image of the Virgin Mary in a tortilla, setting off a mad media frenzy.

The play opens at 8 p.m. Oct. 25 after a reception from 6 to 8 p.m.; an exhibition titled Celebrating 30 Years of Que Pasa U.S.A. (featuring photos, video clips, original scripts and other memorabilia) will be open before and after each performance in the North Campus Gallery. Additional performances of Our Lady are at 5 p.m. Oct. 26, 11 a.m. Oct. 31, 8 p.m. Nov. 1 and 5 p.m. Nov. 2.  The play takes place in the Lehman Theatre, 11380 NW 27th Ave., Bldg. 5, Miami. Tickets are a budget-friendly $10 -- and just $5 for students and seniors.

For information, call 305-237-1450 or visit the college's web site.

(Photo of Max Ferra)