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Renowned TV Writer Pens Coming-of-Age Comedy in World Premiere at Arizona Theatre Company
By Claire Natale - Wednesday May 18, 2022
Arizona Theatre Company’s final production of the 54th season, written by ATC Artistic Associate, playwright and television writer christopher oscar peña, is a coming-of-age comedy about a father and son who are living two different versions of the American dream, and how they navigate the difficult realities surrounding citizenship, business, love and the importance of family. how to make an American Son will be directed by 2013 Pulitzer Prize winning play Disgraced director Kimberly Senior, and stars comedian Cristela Alonzo, who was the first Latina to create, produce and star in her own network sitcom, ABC’s Cristela, in 2014. Alonzo’s new comedy special, Middle Classy, will premiere globally on Netflix on June 28.

A "Model Immigrant" and business mogul, Honduran born Mando's cleaning empire is bracing for a downturn, and he must rein in his over-privileged American son Orlando. In the wake of a personal crisis, Orlando suddenly finds himself responsible for the fate of a treasured undocumented worker and the future of his father's entire enterprise.

“This play is a love letter to my father,” said peña. “Immigrants like him have to do so much to survive in this country, so I wanted to ask the question, what does an American look like? Who gets to be an American? It is also paramount for me to center the voices of those who have been on the margins for far too long, whether that’s people of color, immigrants, queer people or differently-abled bodies. We need to hear new voices. We need to make room for more.”

Alongside Alonzo on the stage will be Gabriel Marin, who has most recently been seen in the National Tour of What the Constitution Means to Me and Off-Broadway in Then They Forgot About The Rest, Francisco Javier González, who was recently cast in 20th Television/Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building opposite Tina Fey and winner of the Broadway World 2019 Award “Best Actor in a Musical” for Matt in The Fantasticks, Alexander Flores, best known for his work in The Maze Runner franchise for 20th Century Fox, Patrick Weber, known for his time on Chicago Fire and Power Book: Force, and Eddie Boroevich, a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York known for his on-screen work on The Equalizer, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Madam Secretary, and more.

The show’s creative team includes Production Stage Manager Glenn Bruner who has been a member of the Actors’ Equity Association since 1981 and was the 2012 recipient of the Lucy Jordan Award, Assistant Stage Manager Mollie Heil whose credits include American Idiot, Kinky Boots and The Marvelous Wonderettes, Scenic Designer Andrea Lauer who has most recently worked internationally at The London Philharmonic, Shakespeare’s Globe and the Beatles’ Sergeants Pepper’s 50th Birthday Extravaganza for the city of Liverpool, Costume Designer Rodrigo Muñoz who is known for his work at Prospect Theater, The Bushwick Starr and Shakespeare Theatre Company, Lighting Designer Reza Behjat who won the Knight of Illumination Award for his work on Nina Simone: Four Women, Sound Designer Cricket S. Myers who earned a Tony nomination and a Drama Desk Award for her design of Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, Intimacy Director Alex J. Gould who has choreographed for The New School, Atlantic Theater Conservatory, Fordham/Primary Stages and more, Voice/Dialect Coach Micha Espinosa who is also a director, activist and Arizona State University professor, and Casting Directors Alaine Alldaffer and Lisa Donadio of Playwrights Horizons who have worked on Broadway’s A Strange Loop, Grey Gardens and Clybourne Park.

peña is an in-demand television writer for such hit series’ as CW's "Jane The Virgin," HBO's "Insecure" and ABC/Hulu's "Promised Land," for which he is supervising producer. He is a resident of New Dramatists and a former Fellow with The Lark, the New York Theatre Workshop, the Playwrights Realm and the Old Vic/New Voices. peña was also recently listed on Backstage's "Future Broadway Power List."

Running June 4 through June 25 at the Temple of Music and Art in Tucson and June 30 through July 17 at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix, the show addresses what happens when the promise of the American Dream collides with the reality of immigration and family. This is a moving new coming-of-age comedy about the complexities of privilege, citizenship, sexual identity, and the most complex relationship of all: family.

Performances will be held at the Temple of Music and Art located at 330 S. Scott Ave. in Tucson and at the Herberger Theater Center located at 222 E. Monroe St. in Phoenix.
Tickets are on sale now, beginning at $25. Tickets can be bought at

About Arizona Theatre Company
Arizona Theatre Company’s (ATC) performances bring people together to experience essential stories, from reimagined classics to contemporary plays, original works, and innovative musicals fostering continued conversation beyond the theatre walls. Founded in 1966 and celebrating its 54th season, ATC is led by Kasser Family Artistic Director Sean Daniels and Managing Director Geri Wright. ATC operates in two major cities and is the preeminent professional theatre in Arizona, recognized as the official State theatre.