By Ricardo Gamboa
At Free Street Theater, 1419 W. Blackhawk St. Tickets: clata.org/destinos-main; $20-$25. Runs through: Nov. 2
Here are the ingredients for a Ricardo Gamboa production: A community, strong Latino, black and queer characters, and most importantly, supernatural abilities. Oh, and mutant Chihuahuas. You will find all of these in the Real Life Adventures of Jimmy De Las Rosas. The show is part of the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance ( CLATA's ) 2nd International Latino Theater Festival.
You may have seen Jimmy de las Rosas' grandmother ( Ruth Guerra ) before. She sells fruit, snow cones and Mexican corn in Little Village. It is also likely you have met met Juani ( Mia Arevalo ), a transgender woman loved by everyone for her sassy spirit. And you may know someone like Jimmy himself ( Ulises Acosta ). He's a young kid, loves baseball and a DREAMer. The only difference between a kid you may know and Jimmy de las Rosas is that Jimmy can move things with his mind.
He plans on using this to his advantage by becoming a professional baseball player. This way, like many other boys and girls in Chicago, he will fulfill his dream of becoming a true hero. He will be the one to move his family out of such a dangerous neighborhood, and his mom can quit her factory job.
There are only two problems with this planhis protective mom ( Elizabeth Nungaray ) and his worrying grandmother. Because they are undocumented, working hard to make ends meet, they are afraid of being found out and deported. They beg him to keep his powers to himself as they are not pleased with his antics in the baseball field. So Jimmy complies for as long as he can.
That's until he learns of the hundreds of people disappearing from the neighborhood, and when someone close to him falls prey to this, he has no choice but to act fast. He befriends Ayana ( Ashley Bland ) and Eddie ( Kyle Johnson ), two homeless black kids. He soon find out that they have more in common than meets the eyespecial abilities. The trio are still discovering their strength and the true purpose of their gifts when they set out into the night to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Who or what is the mysterious kidnapper, and will Jimmy be a hero or just another boy from the hood with shattered dreams?
Worthy of becoming an after-school special, Real Life Adventures of Jimmy de las Rosas touches on issues impacting communities today, from the undocumented status of some Chicago families to police brutality and ( spoiler alert ) pollution.
Get to Jimmy's neighborhood and experience the adventure in Free Street Theater's before the show's run ends.
The Chicago Latino Theater Alliance ( CLATA's ) 2nd International Latino Theater Festival runs through Nov. 2. For more information about addition Festival productions, go to clata.org/destinos-main .