A one-man show written and performed by Jay Alvarez. Told with humor and pathos through the sensitive lens of a child, the story relates a family's perilous escape from Cuba. Alvarez's "galvanizing solo piece" will be followed by performances of newly written compositions for the play by the multi-Grammy winner Paquito D'Rivera, with lyrics by Gaby Gold. Joining Paquito on the stage will be Tony-nominee Olga Merediz, Broadway actor Tony Chiroldes, and veteran theater actor Felipe Gorostiza, as they present for backers and explore a musical journey to the Great White Way. Directed and developed by Theresa Gambacorta, as seen at Stage Left Studio.
Here's what the critics have been raving about:
Helen Hayes Recommended
"Top Solo Performance" FringeNYC
"Best of Fringe" Fringe LA
EVOCATIVE. STORY TELLING.
Jay Alvarez elevates family lore into historical testimony, Mr. Alvarez, is an evocative tale teller. Wearing a guayabera and cargo pants and using only a few slight props, he effortlessly summons up at least half a dozen characters - his father and mother, other relatives and neighbors, even a Coast Guard officer - and swivels easily between English and Spanish.
-Daniel Gold, New York Times
THEATRE AT ITS HIGHEST LEVEL. BRILLIANT. DYNAMIC. NOT TO BE MISSED.
"This show is Off-Broadway theatre at its highest level. Jay Alvarez is a masterful performer. He is brilliant in his transformations. He morphs quickly, dynamically and dramatically from character to character, old and young, male and female. He adds a degree of levity especially in flashbacks to Havana in the 1950s, the place to be for women, food and money while Batista reigned and Meyer Lansky and the mob ran the money-laundering Tropicana. All the while, the intensity of suffering and terror is ever present, merged with the elation of ever-binding love. The pace at which this 60 minute show moves seems like a split second because I was so powerfully captured by the story and performance. IT'S NOT TO BE MISSED!"
-Sandi Durell, Examiner.com
WONDROUS. COMPELLING. CHARISMATIC.
"Jay Alvarez's perilous journey from Cuba to America has inspired this theatre piece. It is equal parts oral family history and guided tour of pre-revolutionary Cuba. When he is on stage, everything is smooth sailing. His charismatic energy fills the theatre as he portrays a number of characters, most notably his mother, Chiqui, and his father, Humberto. THIS SHOW IS WONDROUS AND COMPELLING TO WATCH."
-Erasmo Guerra, NY Daily News
Jay Alvarez's short but galvanizing solo piece "Be Careful! The Sharks Will Eat You!" gives Americans a good-natured nudge. In a poignantly personal way, the actor/playwright reminds us why some people, at least metaphorically, still kiss the ground in gratitude that they made it to these shores.
A GREAT SHOW. TRUTHFUL. REVEALING. EMOTIONALLY STIRRING.
"This is a great show. Beautifully and masterfully acted, well directed and emotionally stirring, 'Sharks' is an introspective, revealing, yet surprisingly relatable journey because...IT IS TRUTHFUL. The fiber from which it is stitched is a genuine one that anyone could wear as a blanket. Jay Alvarez is a great actor who embodies each character and brings them into a rich tapestry while still staying very balanced in his own body and voice. 'Sharks' has a way of hitting nerves. I laughed, I got misty eyed and was thoroughly entertained."
-Brian Wade, SubUrban Underground TV
THRILLING. FASCINATING. SPELLBINDING.
"Directed by Theresa Gambacorta, at Stage Left Studio Theatre, the story is told in such a fascinating way that you are spellbound. Jay Alvarez' remarkable one man show is thrilling and seamless. By the end of the play we feel as if we know each of these characters and feel their joy and pain. The changes from one character to another and the beats between scenes are done effortlessly with an honesty that leaves you wanting to know what happens after they arrive in Florida. This is a story of courage and faith. There were several people with Cuban backgrounds in the audience, and it was amazing to see this play touch them as it did me. This is a terrific piece of theatre."
-Suzanna Bowling, Times Square Chronicles
DEEPLY COMEDIC. INTENSELY GRIPPING. A FLAWLESS PERFORMANCE.
"Be Careful! The Sharks Will Eat You! is thoughtful, deeply comedic and at moments intensely gripping. Theresa Gambacorta does a wonderful job directing the piece. With her wonderful design team, she keeps it simple, all the while letting Jay Alvarez' performance speak for itself. It's pretty obvious why Alvarez' run at Stage Left was extended. Mr. Alvarez keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time. As he moves from one character to another he gives his audience as close to a flawless performance as you're going to get in the live theatre. If you don't tear up at his portrayal of his mother agreeing to send her two oldest sons to the US for protection, well then you might not have a soul. Not one of Alvarez' characters ever verged on caricature. Each was so flushed out, this one-man show felt like a cast of twelve. The most touching moment of Alvarez' love letter to his homeland was his distinct reminder of why people continuously risk their lives to come to ours."
-Trish Vignola, BroadwayWorld.com
DYNAMIC. MOVING. DISTINCT.
"This is a story filled with strength of character, laughter, identity, and hope. I found myself truly enjoying the experience. Mr. Alvarez and director Theresa Gambacorta do a lovely job taking the very specific story of the Alvarez family's flight from Cuba and weaving it with international events and history. I was able to get a complete picture of why this family gave up the life they had to jump into the complete unknown. The show moves at a good pace with Alvarez taking on several characters; they are very physically and energetically distinct and dynamic. His portrayals of his parents are especially moving. His performance is energetic, honest, and heartfelt. The show ends with hope towards a brighter yet unknown future in a new world. It makes me wonder what happened to that little boy and each of the characters I had become so attached to."
-Carissa Cordes, nytheatre.com
BRAVE. CELEBRATORY. BEAUTIFUL.
"Jay Alvarez moves seamlessly between Spanish and English as he tells his family's story. This show is earnest. This show is good, This show has the potential to be great. It is a brave and celebratory story that deserves to be told and heard. Mr. Alvarez is a beautiful blend of Cuban and American."
-Jacqueline Cutler, Tribune Media Services
MESMERIZING. AMAZING. RARE. GREAT.
"Jay Alvarez 's performance is mesmerizing. He delivers a thoroughly amazing performance in every possible way. He is a great actor with an emotional depth that is rare in its delicacy, impact and sincerity. His love of the story is evident. He tells it with humility and respect humbled by its truth and awed by its danger. He accomplishes all of this by skipping on elaborate sets, glamorous props and extravagant costumes. He does it through great and intimate story telling as if dabbling in oral tradition with an appropriately placed theatrical flare. It is his father's story. If his father were here today he would watch the show with tears in his eyes and a smile on his lips - much like the entire audience did."
-Liz Belilovskaya, TimesSquare.com
EXCITING. WONDERFUL. INCREDIBLE.
"This play is wonderful. Jay Alvarez has written an incredible piece, based on a taped interview with his father, Humberto, that chronicles the last days of old Havana and his family's escape from Cuba to a new life in America. If the play were only about Jay's personal story, it would be exciting enough. But he goes beyond that scope and includes stories about the regime change and its effect on the people of Cuba. He leaves the audience with a true sense of understanding and appreciation for the sacrifices his family made in order to ensure that Jay and his siblings grow up in a free country. I STRONGLY ENCOURAGE YOU TO CATCH A PERFORMANCE. YOU WON'T REGRET IT."
-Bob Leggett, The Examiner
MASTERFUL STORYTELLING. HEARTRENDING POWER.
"Jay Alvarez manages to capture the experience of his family's perilous escape from Castro's 1964 Cuba with such heartrending power that we are amazed at what lengths people will go to for freedom and, most importantly, how Americans take our freedom for granted. It is masterful storytelling, as Mr. Alvarez interweaves the history of Cuba, interviews with his father, immigration issues and a thesis on self-identification. The visuals Alvarez conjures up with his insightful writing saw Non-Cuban members of the audience openly weeping throughout the play, alongside empathetic laughter. THIS STORY NEEDS TO BE SEEN BY HUGE AUDIENCES."
-Tony Frankel, StageAndCinema.com
THIS SHOW IS A MUST SEE. WE LAUGHED. WE CRIED. WE COLLECTIVELY HELD OUR BREATH.
"In this incredible show, Jay Alvarez reenacts the story of his family's harrowing escape from Cuba by boat in 1964. He introduces each of the characters in this remarkably true family drama in a way that makes you sure you know each of them. His gift is his ability to connect with the quintessential Cubaness of it all and
to tell his story with both comedy and poignancy. Jay very accurately took us through the history of Cuba from the late 50's through the beginnings of the revolution and wove these historical facts into his family's personal drama. We laughed. We cried. We collectively held our breath. Our hearts broke. We sighed in relief. Jay has taken the Cuban gift for storytelling to a phenomenal
level. This show is a MUST SEE."
-Marta Darby, My Big Fat Cuban Family Blog
TOTALLY COMPELLING THEATER.
"Watching actor-playwright Jay Alvarez perform in 'Be Careful! The Sharks Will Eat You!' you may be fooled into thinking that it's not a solo show at all, but a stage filled with a large and vibrant company of actors giving their all in telling how Alvarez's family escaped from their native Cuba and Fidel Castro's oppressive regime. With seemingly bottomless reserves of passion and skill, Alvarez fully and instantaneously transforms from one character to another. His storytelling resonates with heartfelt immediacy, as does his love of country and family. His script has been cannily crafted to build suspense. This is totally compelling theater."
-Ron Cohen, Backstage
GREAT. A POWERFUL EXPERIENCE.
"GREAT! No one else could tell this tale like Jay Alvarez does and he does so with skill and heart. Director Theresa Gambacorta sails Alvarez's passionate, loving performance through tight and suspenseful pacing. The sound design by Kelly Ericson Harnett deserves special mention for transforming the bare stage into the Tropicana and an open boat on the Caribbean Sea with music, waves and whispers.
Mr. Alvarez tells Cuba's and his family's story, simply and effectively, without plays for glory or reverence. This makes his show a powerful communal experience."
-Lynn Berg, nytheatre.com
FASCINATING. SPOT-ON COMIC DRAMATIZATION. A GREAT PERFORMANCE.
"Jay Alvarez becomes a theatrical wonder boy in his one-man drama about his escape with his family from 1960s Cuba. His is a genuine acting talent. He ingeniously impersonates countless relatives, friends, Cuban government officials, and servicemen in the American Coast Guard. It's a spot-on comic dramatization with serious socio-political underpinnings. The show has a fascination, beginning with its extravagant title and ending with Alvarez's deeply-felt epilogue. It has made a splash on stages in New York, Florida, and California. No doubt it's bound to create theatrical ripples elsewhere. This drama reminds you that storytelling is an art. And Alvarez, with his great performance vitality, is one artful storyteller."
-Deirdre Donovan, CurtainUp.com
A ROLLERCOASTER RIDE. EXHILARATING. BRILLIANT. OUTSTANDING.
"Jay Alvarez's performance takes you on a rollercoaster ride. You will laugh. You will cry. You will grip your chair for the entire performance. You will then leave the theatre with an exhilarating energy that will remain with you for hours. So plan on some coffee or café con leche after the show! It is an outstanding narrative of Humberto Alvarez's carefully planned escape with his family from Cuba to the United States. Jay Alvarez brilliantly embodies those involved on the trip, sharply interweaving their inner worlds with well-researched, piercingly in-depth details of the historical political background."
-Ely Rosa Zamora, Hispanic New York Project
RICH. BRAVE. DETERMINED.
Some autobiographical plays are realistic. Some autobiographical plays paint entertaining portraits of the playwright's ancestors. Some autobiographical plays recreate emotions of the past. "Be Careful! The Sharks Will Eat You!" does all these things to the max, telling a moving story, full of passion, humor and human interest......Alvarez conjures up many very different characters with only variations in voice, gesture and posture.... tells his story with maximum verbal efficiency and a brilliant ear for dialogue, creating telling portraits of the people who shaped his life.
MASTERFUL. GENUINE. MESMERIZING.
In the span of about 60 minutes, Jorge "Jay" Alvarez takes the audience on a journey across 60 years, 250 miles and a spectrum of emotion as he tells the story of his family's dramatic escape from Fidel Castro's Cuba in the early 1960s........Alvarez' masterful performance, where a subtle adjustment of his posture instantly and seamlessly transforms time, place and character. The emotion of the piece is clearly genuine and truly touching,
IMPORTANT. ENGAGING. WONDERFUL.
While certainly compelling and definitely tear-jerking in many places, warmth, love and even plenty of laughter flavor this beautiful, uplifting family story on stage. Alvarez depicts each character completely solo with great agility in this performance of half-theatre, half-storytelling.
.......Alvarez's ability to maintain the high level of emotional energy the show demanded, as well as his ability to connect with his audience not just as spectators, but as listeners in an intimate setting. Alvarez does a masterful job of embodying his family members and neighbors in such a way that it seems each of them has a voice in the story, sharing parts of it, however brief, themselves. His energy and physicalization of men, women, elderly, children, and even television icons, all while passionately speaking to his audience, are very engaging.
-Maryland, MD Theatre Guide
Alvarez embodies all of his characters with a loving physicality that is a joy to watch-moving with grace and ease, he channels his parents, Humberto and Chiqui, and other loved ones with irrepressible excitement. They are all right there in front of our eyes, talking to each other, assessing the situation, considering options, finding a way............The heartbeat of the story is that Alvarez puts a personal face on the history we've read about. Through him, we feel the power and urgency of the charismatic revolutionary Castro liberating the country from oppressive Fulgencio Batista, sweeping allegiance from young idealistic Humberto, and in another heartbeat, how the table turns on those hard-fought ideals and brings treacherous hardship to even the most loyal followers........Alvarez as our guide, we're all in this together terrified of being discovered, leaving behind everything you've known, whispering, praying for safety with no idea of what lies ahead. It's a daunting episode, well told. After the ordeal of getting to American soil, his father indicates that there is no way to repay the debt his family now owes to this land, an expression that Alvarez relays from the very depth of his soul.
-DC Theatre Scene
VIRANT. VIVID. WINNING.
Through the power of effective storytelling, the production leaves the audience with images more vibrant than one normally takes away from a film.........Alvarez's story is a loving tribute to his birthplace (including the music it has exported throughout the globe - Celia Cruz!), yet is also universal and distinctly American (my own grandparents came to the U.S. from Russia under very similar circumstances) and thus will appeal to the hearts of many. The highest compliment I can give this show is that it is so involving that you hate for it to end - and long to hear more about Alvarez's family reunion with his brothers already living in America and what their new life was like in the United States.
-DC Metro Theatre Arts
If a boat carrying 25 people had not courageously set sail under a moonlight Cuban sky in 1964, America would be missing one hell of a fine actor. BE CAREFUL! THE SHARKS WILL EAT YOU! is a mesmerizing story told by a multi-talented actor who actually experienced the ordeal. Your blood pressure will rise as the tension mounts during the escape, your heart will break as a family leaves the only home they have ever known, and you will celebrate the triumphant voyage as it ends (and begins) on a Florida shore. Jay Alvarez, welcome and thank you for gracing our country with your history and your talents.
-Laurie Lawson, Off Broadway
SEXY. IMMINENT. REVERENTIAL.
Although a drama portraying quite the intimate moments, "Be Careful" is also a comedy that delivers gut-busting laughs, from Alvarez repeating "S.O.B." in Spanish to him singing and dancing to the song "Quimbara" by acclaimed Cuban salsa sensation and queen of the genre, Celia Cruz.........But how well does Alvarez perform the story? He does it in a fearless, spectacular manner with positive energy, pride and inspiration. With mannerisms and stage presence like Robin Williams, a comparison between the two comedians can be easily made.
Presented by the Cuban Cultural Center of New York.
This exclusive one-night-only production is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.