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Play-within-a-play showcases Latino music staged at NHCC

María Herrera, Luis Valdovinos-Rojas, H. Ricardo Alvarez, Ruben José Muller, Martin Chavez–Borjas and Beatriz Villegas star in “4 Guys Named Jose y Una Mujer Named Maria.”

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Four Latino guys meet at Burrito World in snow-blanketed Nebraska.

Homesick for the Caribbean, they decide to celebrate their roots by putting on a show at the local VFW hall, enhanced by a beauty named Maria who becomes their muse.

Penned by the late Latina magazine editor Dolores Prida, “Four Guys Named Jose y Una Mujer Named Maria” opens at the Vortex Theatre on Thursday, April 11. The show runs for just four performances.

This musical revue features a play-within-a-play as the four men – one Puerto Rican, one Mexican, one Cuban and one Dominican – decide to showcase the music they grew up with to counteract negative Latino stereotypes. They have never stepped on a stage before.

“They tell some of the history of iconic Latin American music,” director Valli Marie Rivera said. “It’s re-connecting to your roots and your homeland.”

Along the way, they vie for Maria’s attention, cope with falling props and try to get through the night without fighting or forgetting their cues.

“It’s very funny,” Rivera said. “They get to the VFW hall. They’re really not ready and the audience is coming in. They have a Maria who has worked with them. But when they arrive, another Maria appears who doesn’t know the show.”

The songs include “Bésame Mucho,” “La Bamba,” “Guantanamera,” “I Like It Like That” and “Oye Como Va,” sung in four- and five-part harmony.

“It centers on the music,” Rivera said. “It’s bilingual; many of the songs are in Spanish. We have translations so the audience won’t be lost.”

Lina Ramos is the vocal director; Mariano Morales leads the band.

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