--Gabriel H. Sanchez
Patricio Castañeda was a high school football player from Weslaco, TX who died in combat in Khe Sahn, Vietnam in 1968. Although he is a fictitious character in the new play, “Pat & Lyndon” by Archer Crosley & the Pharr Community Theater Company, he nonetheless is reminiscent of authentic RGV soldiers that died during the Vietnam War.
The brave struggle of this young man, torn from his family in the line of duty is paralleled to the politics of the era as Pat tells his story alongside President Lyndon B Johnson. Both Pat and Lyndon appear on stage in the afterlife as their story is told by the host, a middle-of-the road civil patriot of the time who voices concepts about the handling of the war through politics and citizens.
Luis Moreno, director of “Pat & Lyndon” discussed what drew him to the Vietnam War drama, “It’s difficult to say but when I first read the script, I felt like I wanted to bring out the full potential of such a visceral and emotional story of a subject that has been coming up a lot recently, about war, about the consequences of war…the different ideologies of war. It’s very interesting to see these two different views during the Vietnam War; one from the world’s most powerful individual and the other from a fallen RGV war hero.”
Of the fifteen members of the local RGV cast, two lead actors lend their gravitas to the roles of Pat and Lyndon. Ivan Orozco, who was last seen in the company play “Frontera Sin Fin” by Carlos Morton plays the young Marine. “I play the role of a young boy who went to the Vietnam War wanting to make his family proud, especially his father, but once he was there he found out what war was truly about, and that’s what makes the play very interesting," said Orozco.
Fellow actor, Gabriel H Sanchez, who depicts President Lyndon B Johnson was in awe of the responsibility of portraying such a grand historical figure. “It feels like a great burden to play a person with that degree of power. I believe so very few people have that kind of concept in their mind, it’s almost impossible to conceive of how much power a person like that has,’’ added Sanchez.
Elva Michal, who founded the Pharr Community Theater Company in 2008 brings back this play for a second run after a staging in 2011. “I just really love the story and wanted to do something like this for all the brave men and women who were affected in some way by this war. I have a lot of respect for them and I really liked Archer Crosley’s script,” said Michal. “And I want to send a shout out to all Valley-wide veterans groups and families to come on out to see the play and the wonderful work put on by our community theater company.”
Artistic director Pedro Garcia, who is also co-producing the play said, “Watching young director Luis Moreno at work with the actors and with the staging of the show demonstrates how much he learned from his few years of study at Pan American University (now known as UT RGV). I’m proud of his work and of our University.”
The English-language production will run from November 13 through November 23 for a total of 8 performances at the Carnahan Auditorium at 317 W Gore Street, in Pharr. Showtimes are Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are $7.00 general admission, $5.00 anyone under 18, and will be sold one hour before showtime at the door. (Seating is limited to 70 people per show). The show is equivalent to a PG-13 movie rating for brief hard language and strong scenes. Tours of the play to other RGV cities can be arranged in advance.
For more information please call 956-648-2488 or 956-655-9308.