The Happiest Song Plays Last Join OSF Rep

The Happiest Song Plays Last at Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Quiara Alegría Hudes's final play of the 'Elliot trilogy' to be staged in the Thomas Theatre
 
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival will open Quiara Alegría Hudes’s The Happiest Song Plays Last, directed by Shishir Kurup, July 11 in the Thomas Theatre. Preview performances are July 7, 9 and 10.

The third and final play in the ‘Elliot trilogy’ continues the story of Elliot Ortiz, a young Iraq War veteran haunted by his actions in the war. In part two of the trilogy, Water by the Spoonful, staged last season at OSF, Elliot and his cousin Yaz are dealing with ghosts present and past, and seeking ways to forgive, connect and move forward. In Happiest Song, we find them a couple years later. Elliot has landed a new career as a movie star, but shooting a film in Jordan, with the tumultuous Arab Spring rumbling nearby, activates his wartime nightmares. While on location Elliot befriends Ali, a translator, and Shar, an Arab-American actress, who offer him his first real opportunity to get to know the people he once viewed as enemies. Back in Philadelphia, Yaz has her hands full cooking for the homeless and trying to keep her beloved community from crumbling. She develops an unexpected friendship with Agustín, an activist, teacher and musician who infuses the play with música jíbara—traditional music of Puerto Rico.
The New York Times critic Charles Isherwood wrote that The Happiest Song Plays Last “underscores how the disorienting flux of life can be navigated with the help of carefully tended family ties. Whether our families are blood connections or a patchwork of friends and neighbors, it is the bonds of affection and sympathy that help us beat back our demons and strive to become our better selves.”

Director Kurup, who also directed 2014’s Water by the Spoonful, notes that the play goes in search of the connections that began in last’s year’s play and “comes to a head as the promise of love and possibility forces us to reconcile with our own truth, where the ghosts we carry demand a price for their sacrifice, namely that of forgiving ourselves.”

The cast of The Happiest Song Plays Last features Daniel Duque-Estrada as Elliot Ortiz, Nancy Rodriguez as Yazmin Ortiz, Armando Durán as Agustín, Tala Ashe as Shar, Barzin Akhavan as Ali and Bruce A. Young as Lefty. Musician Joe Cruz will play the cuatro.

The creative team for the inspired staging of the 2014 production of Water by the Spoonful has been reunited for this production. Scenic design is by Sibyl Wickersheimer, costumes by Raquel Barreto, lighting by Geoff Korf, video designs by Korf and Wickersheimer, composition and sound design by John Nobori. Dramaturgs are Luis Alfaro (new to the team this year) and Lydia G. Garcia; voice and text director is Rebecca Clark Carey; U. Jonathan Toppo is fight director and stage manager is Karl Alphonso.

OSF gratefully acknowledges the Production Sponsors Brad and Louise Edgerton and The Robert and Star Pepper Foundation, and Production Partner Ted Wobber and Linda M. DeMelis.
The production runs July 7 through November 1.

Founded by Angus Bowmer in 1935 and winner of a 1983 Tony Award for outstanding achievement in regional theatre, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival presents an eight-month season of 11 plays that include works by Shakespeare as well as a mix of classics, musicals, and new works. The Festival also draws attendance of more than 400,000 to almost 800 performances every year and employs approximately 575 theatre professionals. In 2008, OSF launched American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle, a 10-year cycle of commissioning new plays that has already resulted in several OSF commissions finding success nationwide.