Joe Ortiz's musical memoir, Escaping Queens, takes place in the shadow of the Queensboro Bridge. This funny, edgy, ultimately hopeful story, centers around an Italian/Puerto Rican family trying to escape the chaos and poverty of New York housing-project life. Mama rules the home with a nurturing wooden spoon but cannot control her charismatic, gambling husband. Sooner or later something has to give—and it does. The production’s original music draws on the same richness of traditions that the family itself does: Latin beats, Sicilian ballads, do-wop numbers on the street corner and radio hits reminiscent of 1950s era New York.
Escaping Queens originally premiered at Cabrillo Stage, a professional regional musical theatre company in Northern California, in 2012. The show was a sell-out, and so successful with audiences that Cabrillo Stage brought it back for an encore in their 2013 season. In the fall of 2014, Escaping Queens was featured in a two-performance concert reading at the Queens Theater, in Corona Park, N.Y. It has gone to be performed in various locales including The Shelton Theater in San Francisco, Hillbarn Theater in Foster City, and presented in New York City as part of the Dream Up Festival.
Music & Lyrics
Joe Ortiz & Greg Fritsch
The following track from the 2013 Cabrillo Stage Production features Adam Saucedo and Vanessa Alvarez.
The following track include vocals by Adam Saucedo and the cast of Cabrillo Stage's 2013 production of Escaping Queens. Featuring Max Bennett-Parker on piano, Bill Bosch on Bass, Mike Strunk on percussion, Shannon Delaney on violin and Carl Atilano on guitar.
The following track from the 2012 Cabrillo Stage Production features Wyatt Bernard, with Marshall Otwell on piano, Bill Bosch on Bass, Mike Strunk on percussion, Shannon Delaney on violin, and Gino Raugi on guitar and mandolin.
“A stunning interplay of songcraft and drama.”
—Wallce Baine, Santa Cruz Sentinel
“...foot-tapping, handclapping tunes that will leave you humming and singing them for days to come. The doo-wop, Latin, jazz and more is masterfully integrated into the action.”
—Erik Chalhoub, Register-Pajaronian
Photos & Artwork by Jana Marcus