BY DAVID NOH
Company's "Tango Masculino" transports audiences to 1930's
Buenos Aires, to the courtyard of a busy whorehouse. There, among the
passel of whores and louts, local kingpin/stud Rosendo (Ivan Davila) falls
in love with an unexpected figure -- the innocent street urchin Jorge (JoHary
Clint Jefferies' dramatic play is sparked by Paul
L. Johnson's delicious
live tango music, played in interludes by a terrific trio
and beautifully sung by gay actor Stephen Cabral. The play is gorgeously
choreographed, both in its thrilling fight scenes and in the exquisite
tango sequences, danced as it was originally, with men partnering each
other. (Ironically, the tango was considered "obscene" by
conservative Catholic society when danced by a man and a woman.)
"Rosendo has definitely got some
issues," says Davila, who himself rather defines papi chulo
(i.e. "hot daddy"). "What makes him interesting is that
he's so all across the board. Is he gay? Is he not? Does he just like to
Rosendo's machismo is also a big part of Davila's
Guatemalan background and he observes, "Rosendo was probably the same
way then he was seven because that's what his father was like. The
machismo is so ingrained and the struggle begins when he starts to fight
it because of his relationship with Jorge." Happily, Davila has no
problem admitting that he is gay. "I've gone back and forth about
being out," he says, "especially when you think, 'I'm
pretty close -- I might get this job, and then everybody's gonna know me.'
The fantasies run through your mind. And then you think, 'Who cares?' It's
just my life and has absolutely nothing to do with what character I can
Davila recently received encouragement from
acclaimed playwright Edward Albee, who called him out of the blue and
spent two hours encouraging and advising him. (There may be a part for him
in Albee's developing Garcia Lorca project.) "It's definitely the
best thing that's happened to me since coming to New York." Davila
says. "Hey, I'm a little, little actor, and I sat with Edward Albee
for a while and he knows I'm out here and saying, 'You should be on
"Oz.' You need an agent who's as exciting as you are.' Really
Playing the object of Rosendo's affection, Ramos
is just as sweet and unaffected as his character (and the sight of him in
period underwear is worth a trek to Wings by
Local kingpin Rosendo (Ivan Davila, left) is passionate about Jorge (JoHary
Ramos), but his orientation remains unclear. CAROL ROSEGG
itself). A trained dancer from Puerto
Rico, Ramos has just recently taken up acting.
"I sent in my picture and resume for
this," he says, "and it really surprised me that they picked me.
This is my first English-speaking role, so this means a lot to me."
Like Davila, the tango was basically new to
Ramos, though you'd never know it from his strong performance.
"Dancing is so different from acting,"
he notes. "The choreography is there for you to transmit emotions to
the audience but in acting there's your internal choreography --
your attitude, delivering lines. I am amazed by how lovely that is."
Despite his enthusiasm for acting, Ramos
certainly doesn't want to abandon his focus on dance.
"Since coming here," he says,
"I've been amazed by Broadway. I was given a scholarship to study
with Chet Walker, the creator of 'Fosse,' and I would love to do some
Fosse work, like 'Chicago.'
Ramos is more skittish about divulging his
sexuality. "I try not to go to that subject because I'm an actor and
I can portray whatever." he says. "You can ask me to be whatever
you want on stage. If you ask me to go out after, that's something
Through May 4
The Wings Theatre
154 Christopher Street
Tickets are $19