[THEATER REVIEW] My Mañana Comes Illuminates the Dreams of the Underpaid

The busboys (Pablo Castleblanco, Lawrence Stallings, and Peter Pasco) expertly rush around the kitchen in My Mañana Comes.

The busboys (Pablo Castleblanco, Lawrence Stallings, and Peter Pasco) expertly rush around the kitchen in My Mañana Comes.

When most of us dine out, we’re not really aware of the busboys who fill our water glasses and clear our plates.

My Mañana Comes, onstage at the Fountain Theatre, takes the audience into the kitchen and into the lives of four young men who struggle to maintain their dignity in spite of low wages and a grueling work schedule.

As a result, you come to care about their frustrations and their dreams.

Set in the kitchen of an upscale New York City restaurant in summertime, the play tells the story of four likeable young men.

Through his frugality, Jorge (Richard Azurdia) has been able to amass $30,000 to build his family a new house in Mexico. Pepe (Pablo Castelblanco) is newly arrived from Juarez and struggles a bit with English.

Whalid (Peter Pasco) is a Mexican American from New York who has little connection with his roots. Peter (Lawrence Stallings), who is the supervisor of the kitchen crew, is an African American who adores his five-year-old daughter.

The camaraderie between the men is palpable. As they slice up limes, fill salt shakers and rush back and forth from the kitchen to the dining room to serve fussy diners, they banter and joke with each other, giving the audience a window into their lives.

Jorge dreams of returning to Mexico. Pepe yearns for new shoes. Whalid is studying to become an Emergency Medical Technician and Peter just wants to spend time with his daughter.

However, the problem of making ends meet on their meager wages is an underlying current which comes to a head when a sudden pay cut threatens their livelihoods and their friendships.

The balance between workers who are legal and those who are illegal also becomes an issue.

Written by Elizabeth Irwin and directed by Armando Molina, My Mañana Comes is filled with humor while addressing the serious issues of what constitutes a living wage and the rights of the undocumented.

The actors were so convincing that I had to remind myself that they are actors, not real busboys.

The choreography, which has the men rush from one place to another without colliding, is amazing and keeps the actors in almost perpetual motion.

The realistic set design by Michael Navarro with its locker room, time clock, and counters takes the audience immediately into the restaurant’s kitchen.

Lighting by Jennifer Edwards marks the passage of time.

This is a charming play with a serious message. I’m sure that in the future I will have a different reaction to those who serve my food.

My Mañana Comes, Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave., Saturdays at 3 and 8 p.m.; Sundays at 3 p.m..; Mondays at 8 p.m. through June 26, $15-$34.99. Pay-What-You-Can Monday nights. Onsite parking $5. (323)663-1525 or FountainTheatre.com. 

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