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January 15, 2019

10/4/2017 12:33:00 PM
META production at Lincoln powerfully Stands and Delivers
Ken Stern

Our one, archetype, cultural story is achieving the American Dream. That hope was on full display at the Lincoln Theatre Saturday as a spirited and talented cast performed “Stand and Deliver” before an appreciative and understanding audience, as diverse in age, class and ethnicity as I have ever experienced. See the show and join the crowd.
Johnny Landin offered a determined to succeed Jaime Escalante, the Bolivian emigrant turned high school math teacher, who rides into Los Angeles’ Garfield High and insists all his performing below grade students were scholars capable of passing the AP Calculus exam. Landin excels in his first stage role.
Numbers, as well as math, start and end the play. Escalante refuses to settle for teaching basic math. His students cannot stump him in his challenge that “anything you do, you need math,” whether it be airplanes, race cars or music—riffing on whole, half, quarter, and eighth notes. More than once playwright Robert Bella has cast members step out, breaking the fourth wall to offer gruesome statistics, as when a gang member recites the one year total of 8,000 gang deaths in LA.
The real life high school and community college students comprising the class in the play gave energetic performances, offering portrayals of indivi-duals overcoming a variety of personal struggles to accept Escalante’s challenge that they “stand and deliver.”
The students with primary roles succeed admirably in portraying singular characters, while merging as an ensemble. They portray Tito (Victor Gonzalez), Claudia (Alondra Lopez), Francisco “PANCHO” (Efrain Villa), Ana (Adamaris Rodarte), Javier (Carlos Roques), Lupe (Angelique Perez), Angel (Jeremiah Moreno), and Rafaela (Stepheny Lopez).
Director Lindsey Bowen keeps the pace brisk, as high schoolers are, the students moving on and off the stage as the scenes advance, but also chasing after each other or walking off in disgust or resignation. Teacher Escalante is a catalyst, keeping the students on their toes and bonding with and challenging them, as a good adult does.
Melissa Bellos, is convincing as a bureaucratic, just-do-the-job math department chair, and Glen Hoff offers a surprisingly complex, supportive Principal Molina.
There is not a poor performance in the 27-member cast, made up of 14 high school students (four first time performers) four community college students (two first time) and nine adults (five). The cast is primarily Hispanic.
The production crew turning the stage into a believable 1980s high school class room includes Lindsey Brown, set design; Don Willcuts, lighting design and Nate Wheeler, stage manager. Gabe Guevara is the assistant director.
Robert Bella adapted the screenplay by Ramon Menendez and Tom Musca of the 1987 film.
META Performing Arts is a non-profit organization which has been active in Skagit County since 1997. META’s mission is to create high quality theater opportunities for young people here and in surrounding areas, engaging them as actors, technical support, set builders, and audience.
“Stand and Deliver” runs through October 14. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Lincoln Theater at (360) 336-8955 or going online at https://www.lincolntheatre.org/. Go see this show.

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