Review: La Havana Madrid (Teatro Vista)

| May 7, 2017

Sandra Delgado stars in La Havana Madrid, Teatro Vista Chicago            

La Havana Madrid

Created by Sandra Delgado
1700 Theatre at Steppenwolf (map)
thru May 28  |  tix: $15-50  |  more info
Check for half-price tickets   

Now extended thru May 28


Stellar and moving Chicago history lesson


Sandra Delgado stars in La Havana Madrid, Teatro Vista Chicago

Teatro Vista presents
La Havana Madrid

Review by Lauren Whalen

My siblings and I grew up in a farm town downstate that was at least 99 percent white. While all three of us now live in Chicago, we don’t know the entire history of our adopted home. For example, I’ve been a Lakeview resident for over a decade and had no idea that an intersection very close to my apartment was once a cultural hub for Latinx new to the north side of Chicago, as well as the United States. Developed by Sandra Delgado as part of the Playwright’s Unit at Goodman Theatre, Teatro Vista’s La Havana Madrid is a glimpse inside ten years of the city’s history, set in a club where Caribbean Latino Phoebe González plays Maruja in La Havana Madrid, Teatro Vistamusic reigned supreme, loves were found, loss was processed and everyone danced until dawn.

Delgado, a member of Teatro Vista and a favorite in the local theater scene, developed and wrote La Havana Madrid to tell the stories of those who attended the titular Lakeview club. Through a series of vignettes, the audience meets club patrons from Columbia, Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, and hears their stories told through words, music and choreography. Some are true stories, others fictionalized, but all are rich and compelling, vividly illustrating a piece of Chicago history known to few but felt by many. La Havana Madrid was a haven for Latinx immigrants, where they could hear the music of their homeland and connect with friends new and old. Their stories are told in the intimate setting of Steppenwolf’s new cabaret space, the 1700 Theatre, which has been lovingly recreated to look like the club of the 1960’s. The narrator (also played by Delgado) is a shimmering, mystical chanteuse who connects each story (and sometimes plays a small role), backed up by bass player Roberto “Carpacho” Martin and Carpacho y Su Super Combo, his band of 30 years.

Sandra Delgado stars in and created La Havana Madrid, Teatro Vista SteppenwolfMarvin Quijada stars as Carpacho in La Havana Madrid, Teatro Vista Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel stars as Myrna in La Havana Madrid, Teatro VistaMike Oquendo stars as Tony Quintana in La Havana Madrid, Teatro Vista

From a young Cuban teenager missing her family but embracing America (and the Beatles), to a beauty pageant contestant witnessing violent riots on the north side, La Havana Madrid covers a wide range of experiences with empathy and love. Sentimental but not sappy, vibrant but brutal, the various vignettes are perfectly set to live music and explore the connections (and disconnect) that the immigrants feel with their new country and city. As most Chicagoans know, our city is often welcoming and inclusive one moment, and radically divisive the next. Delgado’s hypnotic voice and presence, and Carpacho’s swinging band – supplemented by Ashley Ann Woods’ flawless, intimate set and Liviu Pasare’s projection design – perfectly recreate the 1960’s club, placing the audience right in the thick of things and making us all laugh, cry and dance. Director Cheryl Lynn Bruce pulls it all together with an artist’s eye, drawing out each carefully-placed nuance while never losing sight of the big picture.

Phoebe González and Tommy Rivera-Vega star as Maruja and Henry in La Havana Madrid

While the entire ensemble is wonderful, Krystal Ortiz’s Maria is pitch-perfect, a wide-eyed teen longing for her family but ecstatic to connect with music old and new in her adopted country and city. Tommy Rivera-Vega and Phoebe González are incredibly sweet as a couple celebrating their first anniversary, and Marvin Quijada wonderfully chronicles Carpacho’s journey as a professional musician and his love affair with the bass. La Havana Madrid is clearly a labor of love for Delgado and Teatro Vista, but is never self-indulgent. Rather, it’s a much-needed history lesson for some, a relatable reflection for others, and a poignant, musical immersive experience for all. As privileged white women, my sister and I were aware that we were guests at a very special party, and were incredibly grateful to be invited.

Rating: ★★★★

La Havana Madrid continues through May 21 May 28th at The 1700 Theatre at Steppenwolf, 1700 N. Halsted (map), with performances Wednesdays-Sundays.  Tickets are $15-50 (check for half-price tickets at Following its run at Steppenwolf, Teatro Vista will present La Havana Madrid at The Miracle Center, 2311 N. Pulaski Rd. on June 2-4 and 9-11. More information, tickets and a complete schedule at and  Running time: 2 hours with one intermission

Sandra Delgado stars in and created La Havana Madrid, Teatro Vista

Photos by Joel Maisonet 




Sandra Delgado (La Havana Madrid), Krystal Ortiz (Maria), Tommy Rivera-Vega (Henry), Phoebe González (Maruja), Donovan Diaz (Carlos), Mike Oquendo (Tony), Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel (Myrna), Marvin Quijada (Carpacho)

Carpacho y Su Súper Combo:

Roberto “Carpacho” Marin (Bandleader/Bass), Yendrys Cespedes (Music Director/Piano), Carol MacPherson (Trombone), Cristobal “El Animal” Flores (Trombone), Guido Acevedo (Congas)

behind the scenes

Cheryl Lynn Bruce (Director), Ricardo Gutiérrez (Executive Producer), Jennifer Aparicio (Production Manager), Julia Zayas-Meléndez (Stage Manager), Caitlin Body (Assistant Stage Manager), Ashley Ann Woods (Scenic Designer), Heather Sparling (Lighting Designer), Elsa Hiltner (Costume Designer), Mikhail Fiksel (Sound Designer), Liviu Pasare (Projection Designer), Angélica Acebedo-Frint (Graphic Designer), Kris Tori (Research Assistant), Brandon Moorhead (Master Electrician), Joel Maisonet (photos)

Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel stars as Myrna in La Havana Madrid, Teatro Vista ChicagoTommy Rivera-Vega stars as Henry in La Havana Madrid, Teatro VistaPhoebe González stars as Maruja in La Havana Madrid, Teatro Vista Steppenwolf


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Category: 1700 Theatre, 2017 Reviews, Lauren Emily Whalen, Teatro Vista, World Premier

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