Miami-based playwright Nilo Cruz—who won a Pulitzer for the work in 2003—dropped his characters in Ybor City before it was historic (c. 1929) and within the walls of one of the neighborhood’s cigar factories. A trigger warning for conservatives, however, because the play very quickly takes a turn for the woke when a new lector starts reading Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” to workers who’re spending their days toiling away while hand rolling cigars.
Stageworks’ Producing Artistic Director Karla Hartley points to the longing, love and betrayal baked into Cruz’s script, adding that the work is also about the power of literature.
“Although it’s set in Ybor City, ‘Anna in the Tropics’ explores topics that are still relevant worldwide, such as masculinity, women’s independence, and corporate finances and responsibility,” Hartley said.
What’s more is that Cruz’s message comes to life thanks to a bilingual cast which will also present the work in Spanish during five performances (May 7, 14 and 21 at 3 p.m.; May 13 & 21 at 8 p.m.).
The majority of “Anna in the Tropics” cast members—including native Tampeño Marlene Peralta who Stageworks stans may remember from a 2018 production of “In the Time of the Butterflies”—have been a part of Stageworks’ Hispanic Initiative since its inception.