Arts & Theater

Theater review: Sacramento’s B Street entertains with Mexican folk tales

Nestor Campos Jr., left, and Armando Rivera perform in “Pepito the Mouse,” part of “Dia De Los Cuentos” at the B Street Family Series.
Nestor Campos Jr., left, and Armando Rivera perform in “Pepito the Mouse,” part of “Dia De Los Cuentos” at the B Street Family Series. B Street Theatre

“Dia De Los Cuentos,” the new world premiere B Street Family Series production, brings a quartet of Mexican folk tales to the B2 stage. Reflecting comedic and dramatic modes, the stories “Pepito the Mouse,” “The Parrot and the Firewood,” “The Legend of Popocatepl and Itzaccihuatl” and “The Rabbit and the Coyote” are broadly entertaining while delivering both obvious and subtle messages to the audience.

The stories were adapted by Buck Busfield, Jerry Montoya and David Pierini. They and Lyndsay Burch direct an ensemble of Dena Martinez, Amy Kelly, Armando Rivera, Joel Ledbetter and Nestor Campos Jr., who play mice, a rat, an Aztec princess and Aztec warrior, a clever rabbit and an intellectually challenged coyote.

Each story runs about 15 minutes, and the actors quickly change costumes and characters as the minimal sets are constantly rearranged.

“Pepito the Mouse” is introduced as a folk tale known around the world in different forms as the legend of the “tooth fairy.” In this humorous telling, Pepito feels he must make amends after his father breaks his teeth on a coin to prove to Pepito it’s made of chocolate. Insisting that mice don’t “gum” but rather “gnaw” on it, Pepito’s father now can’t eat. After Pepito steals a tooth for his father from under the pillow of a sleeping little girl and replaces it with the coin, he realizes he can help his father and delight children at the same time.

The one dramatic story, “The Legend of Popocatepl and Itzaccihuatl,” relates one of the many legends of how the volcanoes framing Mexico City were formed. In this version Popocatepl is a brave Aztec warrior and Itzaccihuatl is a princess, and they have fallen in love. They have her father’s consent to marry, but Popocatepl goes off to fight a battle and protect their village.

A jealous suitor returns from the battle saying Popocatepl has died, in hopes that Itzaccihuatl will marry him instead. But in her overwhelming grief, she climbs a mountain and allows herself to be covered with snow. When Popocatepl, who did not die, returns and finds his beloved dead, his anger and grief transform him into a lava-spewing volcano, which allows them to be together forever.

“The Parrot and the Firewood” features a smart parrot who helps his kindly master rid himself of his mean wife, and “The Rabbit and the Coyote” shows how the trickster rabbit frustrated the coyote in howling at the moon.

While the actors occasionally toss in an aside that will tickle adults, these stories are designed for kids, delighting the group I watched the performance with.

Call The Bee’s Marcus Crowder, (916) 321-1120. Follow him on Twitter @marcuscrowder.

Dia de los Cuentos

1/2

What: Buck Busfield, Jerry R. Montoya and David Pierini have brought Latino folk tales to life for the stage

When: 1 and 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, through March 29

Where: B Street Theatre B2 Stage, 2711 B St., Sacramento

Cost: $15-$20

Information: (916) 443-5300, www.bstreettheatre.org; for children ages 5 and older

Time: 85 minutes, including one intermission

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