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Los Lobos musical Evangeline makes stop in Merced
The tales of a young Latina during a turbulent time in 1968 East Los Angeles unfolds in the musical Evangelina: The Queen of Make Believe. The story is driven by the songbook of Los Lobos and includes performances by members David Hildago (right) and Louie Perez (middle) and stars Catherine Lidstone. - photo by Photo Submitted

Merced College will host the Central Valley premiere of a multi-media theatrical production with roots in the songbook of famed Grammy Award winning group Los Lobos.

Situated in Los Angeles in 1968, “Evangeline, The Queen of Make Believe” is the story of Evangeline, a young Latina woman, whose neighborhood roots and make-believe world collide when she experiences the West Side art scene and the music of the Sunset Strip.  The production is set against the student walkouts of East Los Angeles and the fight for equal education and civil rights for the Latin-American community, and follows Evangeline as she tries to balance her role as the daughter in a traditional family and as a swinging 60s Hollywood go-go dancer. 

Presented by Los Angeles-based theatrical company About Productions in association with Arte Américas, “Evangeline” was co-created by Louie Pérez of Los Lobos, and Theresa Chavez, and Rose Portillo.  “Evangeline” is co-directed by Chavez and Portillo. The touring version of “Evangeline” features Pérez as a storyteller integrated into the ensemble of actors and musicians along with original video designed by award-winning cinematographer Claudio Rocha.  Songs written by additional Los Lobos member David Hidalgo and Pérez are drawn from their 40-year catalogue, marking the first time the songbook is part of an original production.  One new Hidalgo and Pérez original song will premiere with this Merced College production.

The tour stop at Merced College comes with some additional benefits for the students, said John Albano, dean of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Merced College.

"Theater and music students will be actively involved in all phases of this event, from load-in and set-up to observing open rehearsals and participating in a voice and movement workshop,” Albano said. “Music students will interact with Grammy award-winning musical artists David Hidalgo and Louie Perez in an informal workshop that will focus on songwriting and musical performance techniques.  Students will experience the work of a professional touring company first hand, including the preparation and final performance on October 10.  Of special importance is the opportunity for students to be supported and inspired to continue to develop their personal and professional interests in theater and music."  

“Evangeline” will be performed in the Merced College Theatre at 7 p.m. Oct. 10.  Advance tickets are students, $10, seniors, $15, and general, $20. Tickets are available at Gottschalks Music, 355 W. Main Street in Merced, and at the Merced College Bookstore and theater box office.  Tickets will also be sold at the door for $25.

The Merced College Foundation will host a wine and cheese artist’s reception for the cast at 6 p.m. Oct. 9 in the Art Gallery.  Tickets for the reception are $50 per person and will include a ticket to the Oct. 10 performance.  The reception will feature a special performance by Pérez and Hildago of Los Lobos, who are also featured in the play.

For more information, call the Merced College Foundation at 381-6470.  To reserve tickets, call the Merced College Theatre Box Office at 384-6284.