Stageworks' brings Ybor City to downtown Tampa for 'Anna In the Tropics'

Nilo Cruz's Pulitzer-winning play runs from May 6-23.

click to enlarge Marlene Peralta plays Conchita in Stageworks Theatre's 'Anna in the Tropics.' - C/O STAGEWORKS THEATRE
c/o Stageworks Theatre
Marlene Peralta plays Conchita in Stageworks Theatre's 'Anna in the Tropics.'
Ybor City is coming to Channelside, care of Tampa's Stageworks Theatre, which presents “Anna In the Topics,” opening this weekend on Friday, May 6 and running every weekend through May 23.

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.
“The classic story suddenly parallels the lives of the factory workers and forever changes their world. Passions are ignited, affairs are consummated, and gunshots are fired,” a press release from Stageworks says.

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.