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New Musical Eastside Heartbeats Set to Begin Los Angeles Run

Performances of the rock 'n' roll musical start tonight at Casa 0101 Theater.

Diana Castrillon stars as Sonia Ramirez in Eastside Heartbeats, directed by Steve E. Feinberg, at Casa 0101 Theater.
(© Aaron Gang)

Eastside Heartbeats starts its run this evening at CASA 0101 Theater.

Inspired by the true story of Cannibal and the Headhunters, who opened for the Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl in 1965, the show follows Jimmy Ramirez and his four-man vocal group. The Eastside Heartbeats are the preeminent singing group in East L.A., but they all have their sights set on a higher prize. Gunning to become Mexican-American superstars, the group wants to be No. 1 in the nation. But first they have to make a record.

Presented by Brown Fist Productions in association with CASA 0101 Theater, the show features the collaboration of Tom Waldman writing the book and additional lyrics, and David Reyes writing lyrics and music with Rudy Salas and James Holvay. Steve E. Feinberg directs.

The cast includes Kenneth Lopez as Jimmy Ramirez, Marco Infante as Mario, Jesse Maldonado as Andy, Matthew Ramos as Ronnie, Gabriel Gonzales as Carlos Ramirez, Diana Castrillon as Sonia Ramirez, Angel Galvan as Lydia Ramirez, Bernardita Nassar as Teresa Gomez, Jordan Charles as Hal Fisher, Jahmaul Bakare as Eddie Mitchell, and the members of the singing group the Eastside Heartbeats.

"In researching the book I wrote with David Reyes, Land of a Thousand Dances: Chicano Rock and Roll from Southern California, I realized that the incredible story of Cannibal and the Headhunters opening for The Beatles deserved its own treatment, either in film or on the stage," said Waldman. "When I wrote the script for Eastside Heartbeats I decided to use that story as the basis for a largely fictional account of the vibrant East Los Angeles music scene of the mid-1960s. I wanted to capture on stage the excitement, energy, and determination of a community of Latino teen-agers who saw Rock ‘n' Roll and Rhythm and Blues as a way to establish their own identity and to rebel against their immigrant parents."

The creative team includes Gary St. Germain (musical director), Urbanie Lucero (choreography), César Retana-Holguin (set design), Julius Bronola (costume design), Jose Lopez (lighting design), Vincent Sanchez (sound design), and Soheil e. Najafi (technical director).

Performances will run through May 29.

For tickets and more information, click here.

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