“Bless Me Última” captivates audience at the Classic Theatre

The Cast of “Bless Me Última.” (photo, Patricio Calvo)

In 1972, Bless Me, Última, written by Rudolfo Anaya was published by TQS publications. It was an enduring journey for the story of Ultima and Juan Antonio to make it to the shelves for the public to read, but once it did, it would challenge views on religion and spirituality for decades to come.

On Feb. 17, The Classic Theatre, with their thespian troupe, brought Anaya’s work to life in their modest and modern set. A sold out crowd gathered to witness a tale of mystery and sorrow unfold before them. A single set, a Virgin Mary in one corner watching over the actors and audience, and a wooden bridge. Within two hours these props, utilized by the actors, transported the audience to 1940’s Guadalupe, New Mexico.

Directed by José Rubén De León, “Bless Me Última” pays tribute to the centuries long struggle between the belief and faith of Christianity versus the more pagan and elemental connection to the land the people are from. A story of trial and tribulation, constantly switching between Spanish and English, telling the tale of healer to those who believed in her, or a witch to those who feared her.

A narrator appears (Carlos Alvarado), the protagonist, Juan Antonio, grown up, and reflecting upon the story of his youth to assist the theatregoers. It was a struggle to feel anything except anticipation. Juan Antonio (Andrew Treviño) is experiencing his youth in a time where the world has just ended a major conflict, the second world war, that took his brothers away, and changed them forever.

He struggles not only with the expectations of his family but also his inner conflict of his faith. He is constantly challenged to question his faith, and love for the catholic church. Antonio experiences and performs acts, some would consider brujeria. This conflict would be escalated by the people he saw lose their lives, and the drama he would endure by standing by the side of Última (Marisa Varela).

Nothing less than the amazing acting can attribute to the emotional intensity of the drama that unfolded on a saturday night in San Antonio. A profound performance left the house in awe; thunderous applause erupted accompanied by a standing ovation for a theatrical execution one has to experience first hand to fully appreciate.

“Bless Me Ultima” Will be running through March 11 on select dates at the San Antonio Classic Theatre located at 1924 Fredericksburg Road. Tickets range in price from $17 to $32 depending on available seating. Tickets can be ordered online through the Classic theatre Website or at the box office during operating hours.