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Theater Scene – With Popular Los Panchos Hits, Play Tells Other Trios’ Touching Story

Josephina Lopez has followed her ever-popular Real Women Have Curves (turned into an award-winning film) with Trio Los Machos, the moving and inspirational story of a 50-year friendship  between a guitar trio, now on stage at the New Casa 0101 Theater.

Whereas the first play was a tribute to her mother, this world premiere pays homage to her father. It’s the story of three migrant workers, part of the Bracero Program, whose meeting on a bus, sets the dynamic for a decades-long relationship           of bickering, and eventually dependency,  between Lalo, Nacho and Paco, with Lalo ever the peacemaker.

When the story open the aging and battling singers, at the end of their career, are fired from a restaurant for singing off key. With audition scenes a la The Fabulous Baker Boys, they decide to hire a sexy young singer to spice up their act, with less-than-desired consequences when macho Nacho begins an affair with the girl and set the play’s present-day action in motion.

The story’s comedy, reminiscent of Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys gives way to poignancy as in flashback we see the men as their younger selves being sprayed with pesticide , working virtual forced labor and barely paid as Braceros.

Viewers also get insigh into the relationship as two of the trio fight over the same girl, played by the effective singer Rocio Mendoza.

The story uses as a backdrop and puts a face on the Bracero program  (1942-1964) between the U.S. and Mexico. In 1942, at the height of World War II, the U.S. imported  tens of thousands of Mexican laborers as millions of Americans were shipped overseas. The program is in the news again, as thousands of workers (now in their 70s and 80s) have been attempting to collect retirement deductions taken at the time.

Like The Imaginary Life Of August G, the show that preceded it at the theater, music is at the heart of this story.

The three find their way out of the fields is singing, inspiring the tagline of the show, Cantamos porque no podemos llorar, “We sing because we cannot cry,” and Lopez was in fact inspired by the music of the famous Trio Los Panchos.

Both young (Adrian Quinoñez, Gilbert Rodriguez and Josh Duron) and old (Henry Aceves Madrid, Miguel Santana and Roberto Garza) trios bring the music alive and are moving in such Los Panchos hits as Amanceí En Tus Brazos, Perfidia, Sabor A Mi and more.

Remaining performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m. through July 8 at the New Casa 1010 Theater, 2102 First St., at Louis Street.

Tickets, $20, $17 for students and seniors, are available by calling the box office, 323-263-7684, by email at or online at

—Steve Simmons

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