40 years later ‘¿Qué Pasa, USA?’ comes back…to the stage

The hilarious and oftentimes poignant storylines of the 1970s surprise hit sitcom “¿Qué Pasa, USA?” have had such an enduring effect on the Miami community that they’ve brought it back. Except this time, it’s 40 years later and will be set on the Arsht Center stage as a play instead of on television.

Set to debut there on May 17, several of the show’s cast are reprising their roles for “¿Qué Pasa, USA?” and were on hand at the press conference for the big announcement.

Cast is all smiles at the conclusion of the press conference at the Arsht Center.

The stage adaptation was conceived by Nelson Albareda, CEO of Loud and Live, written by Patrick H. Pino, and co-directed by Albareda and Gonzalo Rodriguez. The minute Albareda had the idea he spoke to Rodriguez, who worked on the set of the original series.

At the Arsht Center, Albareda was front and center, presiding over the press conference as the actors, both veterans and newcomers, sat in director’s chairs behind him.

The two immediately recognizable faces from the original show were Barbara Ann Martin, who is back to play “La Gringa,” and Connie Ramirez, who played Violeta and were both daughter Carmen’s sidekicks. Ana Margo, who played the Peña’s daughter, is also returning.

Original cast member Barbara Ann Martin answers questions from the audience at the Arhst Center. Photo by Loud & Live.

Given that the play will be set in present day, 40 years later, there are a few new cast members. Several were present and newby cast member Grethel Ortiz, who was very hush hush about details but did have this to say: “I have worked with Gonzalo on local musicals like ‘Tiempos Felices’ at Miami-Dade County Auditorium, so I am very honored to be working with him again. Frankly, every time he calls me I just say ‘let’s go!,’” she said. “This is a dream come true because he has a great vision, is organized and very professional.”

One aspect of the play that was revealed is that like the original, they will integrate a Spanglish/Bilingual dialogue and because it is set four decades later, it will focus on the more recently arrived immigrants, but still with the same issues.

“We’re fast forwarding 40 years later and the story of immigrants and exiles hasn’t changed,” said Albareda.

Tickets for the May 17-19, 2018 dates are now on sale and more dates are set to be announced. Visit arshtcenter.org to buy tickets.

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