Come hang out in the lounge of the newest and hottest hip-hop club in New York City at Cape Fear Regional Theatre beginning Thursday.
Written by Kristoffer Diaz and directed by José Zayas, “Welcome to Arroyo’s” is a heartfelt family tale of love, loss and coming of age as the ensemble cast discovers that the origins of hip-hop music are closer to home than any of them realize.
The show centers around Alejandro Arroyo (played by Jesse Munoz) and his sister Molly Arroyo (Alondra Belén), who have just lost their mother and are grieving in different ways.
“I have just taken over what was once my mother’s bodega, which is like a New York deli, into a bar, and my goal is to turn it into the coolest, most popular lounge. My sister, though, is an obstacle,” Munoz said of his character.
Molly has a penchant for spraying graffiti on the back wall of the local police station.
The six-member cast includes Jarrett Bennett as Officer Derek. Bennett is a familiar face on the Cape Fear Regional stage, having performed in “Dreamgirls,” “Annie” and “Memphis.”
DJs Noam Shapiro (Trip Goldstein) and Jason Yanto (Nelson Cardenal) provide narration for the show, weaving the story together with beats and lyrics.
“We are the chorus of the show. So just like a traditional Greek chorus, we help push the action forward and entertain, providing comic relief,” Shapiro said. “It’s about Alejandro and Molly, but along with them, we represent the Lower East Side mentality. We are true New Yorkers and best friends. We may also have our own agenda manipulating other characters.”
Not connected to the Lower East Side is Lelly Santiago (Eva Dorett Merrill), an Ivy League college student from the Upper West Side who is researching the origins of hip-hop.
“Lelly is not part of the whole friend group, but she’s a hip-hop historian who just loves everything about hip-hop music,” Merrill said. “She’s trying to find the real-life identity of a basically forgotten hip-hop legend, which is how Lelly gets involved in the story.”
Hip-hop, graffiti and one of the coolest lounges in the Lower East Side are the draws of “Arroyo’s,” but the show also is a touching yet fun-filled night out, said Ashley Owen, marketing director for Cape Fear Regional.
“With the characters grieving the loss of their mother, you definitely feel the weight of that grief and you’re watching it play out. But it’s not sad,” said Owen. “If you’ve ever lost someone, you’ll feel it and you can relate to it, but you’re not going to sit too long in that grief to where it feels heavy. They scratch the turntable, music starts playing and you’re laughing again.
“It touches on so many elements of the human experience. It is a really cool show to watch in an intimate setting because you are not only watching the show, you are relating to everyone who is sitting around you. It’s an experience,” Owen said.
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Bringing New York to North Carolina, the theater is also transforming the stage into Arroyo’s lounge. That’s not only for the performance but for the audience, including opening the bar before and during the show for drinks and concessions to give a fully immersive experience.
“It should feel like a party every night. It should feel like a lounge in New York. That’s the goal. Think of the closet at Narnia or the door to Wonderland. It’s going to be all immersive walking on stage,” said Merrill.
The theater will offer several specials during the show’s run:
Special pricing is available on preview nights Thursday and Friday; military appreciation night with 25% off on March 29; and educator appreciation night with 25% off on March 31.