How many of us have returned to our childhood neighborhood and have had a hard time recognizing it? That’s especially true for me. I was born in Brooklyn in an upper middle class neighborhood. It was safe and everyone looked out for one another. But just a half hour away by car, there were other neighborhoods that I was told never to visit. They were gang infested and dangerous. Well, now those dangerous neighborhoods are filled with million dollar condos, expensive boutiques and edgy art galleries proving that the saying “everything changes; nothing stays the same” is more than true. Change is exactly the dilemma facing the characters in the Italian-American blue-collar Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn. Bay Ridge is being gentrified and the regulars at “The Alamo,” a neighborhood bar, are having a very hard time with that. It’s here that Joey (the marvelous Bobby Costanzo), Dominic (John Lacy) and Tick (Jack Merrill) have been coming for years. It’s their second home. From the roof of The Alamo, they watched as the Twin Towers fell, taking down their relatives, friends, and neighbors. The three men want the place to stay exactly the same. But unfortunately for them, the bar’s owner Munce (Tim True) and his wife, Carmen (the wonderful Eileen Galindo) have other ideas. Munce and Carmen are planning to turn the place into a hip hangout for the artists and the millennials who have moved into the neighborhood. But Joey, Dominic, and Tick fear if The Alamo changes to accommodate the new arrivals, they will no longer be welcomed.
“The Alamo,” beautifully directed by Kent Thompson is an outstanding piece of theatre. Not only are the actors, including Mary (Milica Govich) a woman dealing with the loss of her husband, her daughter, Micaela (Kelsey Griswold) a girl deciding what to do with her life, and Claudine (Nancy Georgini) a woman realizing her marriage has been a sham, are all at the top of their game. The play, written by Ian McRae, takes on issues of race, the Vietnam and Iraq wars, politics, and nativism. It’s funny, touching, and at times heartbreaking. I found myself so engrossed in the lives of these characters caring about every one of them. It’s definitely a ‘must see’ for anyone who loves theatre.
“The Alamo” is presented by The Ruskin Group Theatre located at 3000 Airport Avenue (in the Santa Monica Airport). The play opened on Saturday, Feb. 24, and runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. It closes March 31, 2018. Tickets are $27-$30. For Students, Guild Members and Seniors they’re $17-$20. For more information and tickets, go to www.ruskingrouptheatre.com or call 310-397-3244.