Stage Shows

Federal Jazz Project Play is a Hit

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 Gilbert Castellanos - photo credit Daren ScottSan Diego serves as the background of the San Diego’s Repertory Theater’s current hit play, Federal Jazz Project, but calling it a play is a great understatement. This multi-layered theater event will delight lovers of jazz, noir, history, dance, spoken word and theater alike. San Diego Entertainer had an exclusive interview with Director Sam Woodhouse who accurately describes the play as a  “complicated love letter to San Diego.”

The characters in the world of the story are more accurately described as representations of the different social, political and cultural identities found in San Diego then, and now. One of such characters is Tijuana, played by Claudia Gomez. Tijuana is a rapturous percussionist tap dancer with dangerous political ties. Tijuana, marries the young and ambitious soldier referred to as “The Kidd,” whose character arc is one of the most moving that can be seen in modern theater to date. Tijuana’s sister is San Diego, played by Lorraine Castellanos, a character who brilliantly exemplifies San Diego’s complex cultural heritage through her talents as a Spanish guitarist and a Jazz singer. These are just some of the characters that make up this medley of sounds and emotions that is Federal Jazz Project.

Claudia Gomez - photo credit Daren Scott

Woodhouse described this play as a “buffet of very diverse events and ideas,” and this is due to the many inspirations that Montoya drew from for the script of Federal Jazz Project. Montoya was born in the Naval Hospital in Balboa and wanted to pay homage to the military life and issues through his play.  Another element of the play came about from Montoya’s love for jazz.  For years, Montoya followed the weekly jam sessions of one of San Diego’s greatest musical talents, Gilbert Castellanos and sought him out to collaborate on this project.  The result of this partnership is a spellbinding soundtrack to the story, which is also available for purchase. A third enveloping layer of the story was inspired by the dynamic relationship between the San Diego and Tijuana regions.

Federal Jazz Project offers a nostalgic view of San Diego’s history, but manages to stay relevant with the abounding instances of humor and satire that only San Diegans can relate to and laugh about. This is a play about San Diego, from San Diego and for San Diego.  This play has taken the community by storm with its success and ingenuity and there are only five more precious days remaining of it. If you haven’t already gone, you must go – you will laugh, you will cry, you will laugh again and you will dance (internally, at least).


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