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  Casa Valentina at Pride Arts Center - The Broadway

Casa Valentina

Pride Arts Center - The Broadway
4139 N. Broadway Chicago

CASA VALENTINA is set in 1962, in an inconspicuous bungalow colony in New York's Catskill Mountains that caters to a very special clientele: cis-gender straight men who delight in dressing and acting as women while away on vacation. These white-collar professionals discreetly escape their regular routines to spend certain weekends safely inhabiting their chosen female alter-egos. But given the opportunity to share their secret lives with the world, the members of this hidden society must decide whether the freedom gained by openness is worth the risk of personal ruin. Based on real events and infused with Fierstein's trademark wit, this moving, insightful, and delightfully entertaining work offers a glimpse into the lives of a group of "self-made women" as they search for acceptance and happiness in their very own Garden of Eden. While the characters of CASA VALENTINA are not men who identify as gay, it continues Pride Films and Plays' exploration of all things gender related, that are essential viewing for all audiences.

Thru - Sep 29, 2019

Price: $25-$40

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 866-811-4111

Running Time: 2hrs, 10mins; one intermission

  Casa Valentina Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"...Graham’s production is a generally solid, honest and sometimes moving staging of a very worthy piece of writing: it contains a couple of excellent performances in work by Patrick Byrnes, whose George/Valentina is the owner of the resort, and by Josh Marshall, as Michael/Gloria, and whose dynamic definition invigorates every scene. But the staging, which gets too stuck with trappings and other bits of business, often misses the inherent poetry in Fierstein’s writing."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Somewhat Recommended

"...But while "Casa Valentina" - now receiving its Chicago premiere in a Pride Films & Plays production - offers an intriguing portrait of gender transgressors in an era of rigid social boundaries, it shies away from really delving into the motivations behind their explorations."
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Kris Vire

Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"...In 2014, this was a cautionary tale about the shortcomings of queer legitimacy in what felt like a newly optimistic time. In 2019, it feels like a complete dismantling of the very notion of that legitimacy, an assertion that accepting the vastness of sex and gender will always be impossible within the confines of the fickle state."
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KT Hawbaker

Stage and Cinema - Highly Recommended

"...Fierstein covers a lot of controversial territory in 130 minutes. Moving beyond stereotypes by sheer truth-telling, Graham's nine actors are on top of every character quirk and plot permutation. We feel both the covert fun of seven playful aficionados in their rightful element and the protective paranoia that will ultimately end this transvestite sanctuary. Their Garden of Eden, it seems, hid one too many snakes."
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Lawrence Bommer

Around The Town Chicago - Somewhat Recommended

"...With age comes wisdom — at least that is the hope regarding the careers of our most relevant writers. Over the course of the past four decades, Harvey Fierstein has made a significant mark on the theatre world, not only as a playwright but also as an actor. Very much like the prolific Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar, Fierstein’s work has shifted from the outrageously flamboyant and campy humor of his early successes (the Tony Award-winning “Torch Song Trilogy” and the book of the musical “La Cage aux Folles”) to more serious and introspective works such as the book of the musical “Newsies” as well as his 2014 play “Casa Valentina,” which is receiving its Chicago premiere at Pride Films and Plays. The dominant theme that runs throw nearly all of Fierstein’s accomplishments is men in drag, of which “Casa Valentina” is no exception."
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Jeffrey Leibham

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...Harvey Fierstein's 2014 play isn't entirely fictional. It's somewhat based upon an actual bungalow resort that once catered to transvestites, but is now a summer retreat for Hasidic families. A few of the characters are also based on the actual men who frequented this secret refuge. The Sorority is still in existence and is called The Society for the Second Self. In Pride Films & Plays' entertaining and enlightening new production, Michael D. Graham has directed a play that, despite the obvious misconception, isn't about drag queens or female impersonators. It's a heartfelt story that both entertains, stirs the emotions and gives audiences a great deal to think about as they leave the theatre."
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Colin Douglas

Chicago On Stage - Recommended

"...All of the acting is strong here, undoubtedly brought out by Graham's thoughtful direction, which makes as much room for long quiet moments of reflection as it does to the playful solidarity and humor of the transvestites. Evan Frank's set design, though-an attempt to fit multiple locations within the main building of the resort into the Broadway Theatre's ballroom-ends up creating a very busy space crammed with thrift shop furniture that might have been better if it had been left more open instead of crowding five levels onto the stage. Still, even if Frank, like Fierstein, bites off a little more than he can chew, Casa Valentina remains a powerful, thoughtful glimpse into a little-known subculture."
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Karen Topham

TotalTheater - Highly Recommended

"...There are many reasons to see Harvey Fierstein's 2014 portrait of a summer resort in 1962 where buttoned-down het males could indulge their non-binary—as we call it in 2019—sensibilities in comfort and privacy. Not only does the author's status allow him to say whatever he damn well pleases (a claim nowadays shared by David Mamet), but it pleases him to parse the taxonomic nuances of gender-fluid expression more minutely than customary even today, and, in doing so, call out his fellow sexual outlaws for their capitulation to the bigotry of their oppressors."
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Mary Shen Barnidge

Picture This Post - Recommended

"...If you are looking for a night of escapism this is not really your show. Instead, if you want to see a good thought provoking exploration of homophobia in a place you might not have imagined it flourished- at least for this cis-straight woman- this is a top pick for your time. That J. Edgar Hoover is somewhere in the background of this story sporting his signature red dress just adds to the pain of considering how cannibalism ruled the day - - and perhaps still does."
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Amy Munice

  Casa Valentina Photo Gallery

   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.

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