iO's Dominizuelan
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iO's Dominizuelan

Glen Allen, Virginia, United States

Glen Allen, Virginia, United States
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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


We'll admit we didn't know what we were getting into when we decided to see Dominizuelan's "People in the City" show at iO last night. It's Tall Hispanic-Short Hispanic's first scripted show, and both performers are female. For some reason we assumed the performance would be all about Hispanic women. We assumed wrong.

Lorena Diaz and Wendy Mateo comprise Dominizuelan and perform 20 characters in People in the City. These characters play in short scenes ranging from old Dominican men playing dominos to liquored up 20-something Wrigleyville girls waiting in line at a bar. By exploring the stereotypes surrounding so many different characters, Dominizuelan takes an honest look at the bits and pieces of culture that give American cities personality. Everyone in the audience can relate to these slice-of-life scenes. If we haven't experienced these situations ourselves, we certainly know someone who has.

Now we're making it all sound so serious. It's not. People in the City is a high-energy 90-minute show with bouts of dancing between scenes and plenty of reasons to laugh. Think Facebook jokes are old? Dominizuelan pulls it off. And we especially loved the sassy tranny hooker. Oh, and the kid who stabbed his brother with the fork. The sobbing dumped girl was pretty funny, too. Okay, we're not going to list all the characters because we were too busy enjoying ourselves to take detailed notes. But we will say that even through we only saw each character for a few minutes, Dominizuelan made us feel as though each of them could be a real person. When a tall, long-haired Venezuelan female has you convinced she could pass as someone's deadbeat couch potato Italian boyfriend, you have two things: good acting and great comedy. - Chicagoist


**** (FOUR STARS) Two talented and vivacious young women, Wendy Mateo and Lorena Diaz, take on a wide range of characters in more than a dozen sketches, set on a nearly naked stage. (Their only props are two chairs and an oversize purse.) Whether playing young or old, male or female, straight or gay, white or African-American, both women are captivating: Think John Leguizamo in female bodies. While most of the scenes focus on Hispanic characters, the themes are universal; and although the material is a bit uneven, and the pacing drags at times, the improvisational skills of these two ladies captivate the audience. The energy is high, and the audience leaves feeling the same way.
- Time Out New York


Two drunk white girls, a couple of old Jewish ladies, and a tranny prostitute walk into a bar . . . though this would make a great set-up for a joke, it’s really a small sampling of the characters found in Dominizuelan Presents: People in the City. This two-woman show features twenty different characters in twelve interrelated scenes and monologues written and played by Lorena Diaz (“the tall one”) and Wendy Mateo (“the short one”). Both actresses are Hispanic women, but the characters they portray span all ages, genders, and ethnic stereotypes, and their writing pokes fun at every race equally.

In the opening scene, we meet two old Jewish ladies at a restaurant, interrogating their waitress in an attempt to get some Splenda since one left her baggie full of it at home.

“You speak Mexican?” she asks the waitress with “exotic-looking features.”

“No, they speak SPAINISH in Mexico,” corrects her friend. “Do you speak Spainish?”

Though, I, personally, do not speak Spainish, my favorite line of the whole show was spoken of a certain blonde socialite in a scene where two Latina housekeepers seemed to be discussing American celebrities: “Ella es una puta!” Una puta, indeed.

Both Diaz and Mateo give strong, funny performances. Diaz, in particular, transitions seamlessly through widely diverse characters - from a homeless man, to an aging Hispanic man, to a vibrant Latina single mom. Her physicalizations are dead-on, and she fully transforms into the gender and race she portrays at any given time — no easy feat given the minimal production values and lack of any kind of costume or set change. Mateo easily inhabits the worlds of the scenes, and fully commits to each action. In one of the funniest moments, her drunken stupor is so convincing that it elicited more than a few laughs from the audience.

Renata Sheppard’s choreography, along with an upbeat soundtrack and slight changes in lighting, serve as transitions. Though some of these transitions last a bit longer than necessary, they allow the viewer to see the relationships which exist from scene to scene. In one scene, we meet a tranny prostitute talking to a “white girl” on her corner, and as the scene progresses we realize that the white girl is actually one of the drunk girls from an earlier scene. This happens multiple times throughout the show, and is a rather brilliant way to show each side to the story. Though it’s clear that the show originated out of improvisation, Charna Halpern’s direction focuses the characters and action and gives the scripted show a casual, off-the-cuff feel.

People in the City is a comedy, but by the end, it turns into comedy with a message: everyone has a story, and we’re all connected through common experience, even when we think we have nothing in common. Or at least, that’s what I got out of it, though admittedly, my Mexican is a little rusty. - StageBuzz.com


Drunken Cubs fans are an easy target, and considering i.O. Theater's heart-of-Wrigleyville locale, the drunken Cubs fans (female division) portrayed by Wendy Mateo and Lorena Diaz quite likely resemble the very people you just brushed past on your way into the theater.

That in itself is good comedy

As a duo, the women perform under the name Dominizuelan, and their material reflects their shared Latina backgrounds (Dominican and Venezuelan) and their experiences as young women in America.

"People in the City" is their first sketch show at i.O., and it contains the kind of sharply honed humor that isn't afraid to stare down cultural stereotypes--even stereotypes other than their own. The opening scene has them playing a couple of biddies grilling their waitress about her exotic looks and Latina ethnicity: "You could pass for Jewish!"

Both are excellent actresses, and they have a real talent for creating fully realized characters. Mateo is a ball of energy; Diaz has a regalness that can quickly turn into something rougher when she chooses. - Chicago Tribune


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

20 colorful characters + 2 colorful Latinas= Dominizuelan Presents: "People in the City."

"These girls have a point of view that should absolutely be heard" says director Charna Halpern (of iO Chicago, formerly Improv Olympic, who mentored people such as Mike Meyers, Chris Farley, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and many others). "I'm so sick and tired of people asking me, 'Where are all the women in comedy?' They are right here and they are minorities at that- double whammy!"

Wendy Mateo is the short half of Dominizuelan and a proud Bronx native. Lorena Diaz, the tall half of Dominizuelan, was born in Venezuela and raised in Miami. Their goal was simple: write a show exploring that no matter what the label, experiences of drug addicts, mothers, old Dominican men, daughters, drunk Cubs girls and homeless people are not only relative, but relevant in creating the tossed salad that is America.

“People in the City” is a testament to everything Wendy and Lori have a passion for--their upbringing, the music they love, the poetry, the city they live in, the cities they have lived in. The show is a virtual tour of the many urban characters that they have come across in their experiences in New York, Miami, and now Chicago. They present the show with flair for their culture, and as homage to their families who are always a mix of “old country” and “new country.”

"People in the City" has been running at iO Chicago. Dominizuelan was an official selection of the 2009 Chicago Improv Festival. Mateo & Diaz performed in the TBS Just for Laughs Festival. The show is directed by the first lady of improv, Charna Halpern, and choreographed by Renata Sheppard.