“When something falls in front of you, like people, don’t we have an obligation?” sings Judy McLane in Everyman Theatre’s production of “Los Otros” (‘The Others’), a two-person musical story told in vignettes from the perspective of a white woman, Lillian, and a Latino man, Carlos, played by Philip Hernandez. With a book and lyrics by Ellen Fitzhugh and a score by Michael John LaChiusa, “Los Otros” comments on Latinx-American relations, focusing on the moments in time when Lillian and Carlos are outcasts.
In the opening song, Lillian sings of an immigrant family that she and her sisters sneak food to as the family hides out in a cave, waiting for the next phase of their lives to begin. But after three days of leaving food by the cave’s entrance, the family is gone, and Lillian and her sisters are left feeling saddened, but hopeful, as the family is led to a better place.
Lillian’s story starts at the beginning of her life when Carlos (Hernandez) introduces himself into the present tense – the mid-1990s – as he reflects on a bar of soap while taking a shower. His rich baritone flirts with the tenor range with ease, and he goes on to recount how a hurricane in Mexico drove his mother to take him north – to the United States.
These are Lillian and Carlos’s first experiences as outsiders in the middle of Southern California, where the majority of the musical takes place. The musical is almost entirely sung-through, with occasional stops for brief moments of dialogue.
McLane and Hernandez exhibit a friendly, yet playful, on-stage dynamic as the narrative, and their character’s lives, progresses. They are fierce, but unlikely friends, and their lives explore the differences in thought, culture and economic status between them.
Everyman’s intimate space lends itself to the musical’s message of unity in the face of division. As an abstract realist piece, “Los Otros” shines and it’s somewhat weaker, concrete plot points are carried by McLane and Hernandez, seasoned Broadway veterans who add depth and authenticity to their characters, making even the final scenes after a deus ex machina-esque event seem honest and sincere.
“Los Otros” is especially timely given the current political events. As art reflects what life could be, the audience is called to reflect on our own relationships and roles as “others.” When have we been the “other” and when have we “othered” those around us? How different are we from those whom we separate ourselves?
By the end of the musical, the answer is clear.
“Los Otros” is running through April 23 at the Everyman Theatre. Everyman features a $10 student rush for B location seating 30 minutes before every scheduled performance and is offered to those with a valid student ID. Additionally, all Sunday evening performances are $10 for students in B location seating with a valid ID. Full price tickets can be purchased for $43-49.