Escaping Queens, a musical memoir in two acts written by Joe Ortiz and directed by Greg Fritsch, is a funny, edgy, ultimately hopeful story of an Italian/Puerto Rican immigrant family. Through the eyes of a young boy, we meet a cast of jubilant characters: a gambling Puerto Rican father, a nurturing Italian mother, a love-crazed teenager, a lurking neighborhood bookie and Doo Wop kids singing on the street corner. Together they weave a tale of a desperate escape from New York.
The music, all original songs by composer Joe Ortiz, embodies a variety of styles: Latin beats, Sicilian ballads, bluesy riffs, jazz numbers, radio hits of the 1950s and doo wop numbers. The story takes place in the shadow of the Queensborough Bridge. It opens around the kitchen table in a housing projects apartment, where Mama rules the home with a wooden spoon and a nurturing heart, but cannot control her charismatic, womanizing, gambling husband Herman.