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San Francisco Fringe 2015

The Rita Hayworth of this Generation

Tina D’Elia

Genre: Magical Realism, Queer Film Noir, Slapstick Comedy

Venue: Exit Theatre


Low Down

“The Rita Hayworth of this Generation is the story of Carmelita Cristina Rivera, a queer Latina, whose quest for fame and love of Rita Hayworth leads her to Las Vegas. She labors to win the heart of Jesus Antonio Atano, the Latino Transgender Blackjack King of Vegas. Angel Torres, Carmelita’s butch Latina production manager, reluctantly starts to fall in love with Carmelita. Meanwhile, Carmelita contends with the evil C.E.O. president, Kelsey Morph Python, who may be holding all the cards.”


A dedicated fan of Rita Hayworth, Tina D’Elia’s character Carmelita Cristina Rivera prays to Hayworth “I am your queer Latina vessel” and hopes to get some guidance. Her goal is to do her show in Las Vegas and be successful. D’Elia plays all five characters in this vibrant one woman show written and performed by D’Elia and directed by Mary Guzmán. In Las Vegas Carmelita meets Jesus Antonio Atano, a Latino Transgender Blackjack King, Angel Torres, her butch Latina production manager, and Kelsey Morph Python. Carmelita falls in love with Jesus while Angel falls in love with her…

D’Elia is multi-talented – a versatile and very compelling performer. She sings, acts, does physical comedy and slapstick as well as changes characters physically and vocally every minute or two speaking fast paced dialogue in both English and Spanish (depending on which character she is playing)! Her voice ranges from cool and husky resonant speaking to lyrical when singing and everything else in between.

D’Elia’s writing is snappy and well structured, rich in imagery with details of the characters in action. The theatrical performance style is particularly effective. At eighty minutes the story moves quickly from emotive narrative, to one person then two person scenes, short songs, physical drama and comedy using the entire stage space. D’Elia is good at miming flashes of objects so she needs no props or costume changes. To suggest a character’s rhinestone clothing, she uses a clever flourish of her hands, that’s all that is needed and we can see rhinestones. A physical comedy highlight is when D’Elia creates a romantic interlude – a brief stop motion simulated sex scene of Carmen with a partner – playing both parts, it’s hilarious and ingenious!

Carmelita’s world at this time is based on a sort of spiritual fandom as she visits a club full of dead Hollywood stars of Hayworth’s era. Deliciously sprinkled with moments from Hayworth’s life and Carmelita’s parallel story, the show has a dynamic energy with a tender emotional arc.

It’s a show that has been developed by D’Elia over the last three years and she has a solid creative team behind her: effective original music by Laura Dean, Rob Broadhurst, and John D’Elia, and sound effects such as slot machines evoke the casino setting very well; fascinating movement and dance choreography by Sean Dorsey.

Carmelita’s story comes full circle in a touching ending – she is definitely ready for prime time!