Angel Juarez plays a young Alicia Parlá in 'Queen of the Rumba' now at Casa 0101. Photo by Rudy Torres

Every step we take in life becomes a part of our journey, from rushing paces towards the future to simple strolls enjoying where we find ourselves. As time goes by, our stories tend to fade when we don’t tell them, even when our steps leave their mark on the world.

At Casa 0101, those stories never die and those steps always shine through in every production. Since its opening in 2000, there have been many spectacular shows at the Boyle Heights playhouse over the years. The current production taking the stage is “Queen of the Rumba.” A creative take on the journey of Alicia Parlá, a Cuban woman known for introducing the rumba dance to the United States and the world, it’s something you won’t want to miss out on.

Directed and choreographed by Corky Dominguez and written by Casa’s founder Josefina Lopez, the play had its world premiere last month and runs until October 22nd. 

The story is told through the eyes of Parlá, an aging Cuban prodigy battling terminal cancer, who shares her fond remembrance and life reflection with others in the hospital. The play opens as she is told she only has two weeks to live, news which does not bother her, as she believes she has lived a full life.

She begrudgingly stays for an overnight observation, during which she hears a young girl cry because she also has a terminal illness and is only left with a few months to live. Parlá decides to share her life story to uplift the girl, and we are transported back to the years when she became known as the Queen of the Rumba.

There are two stand-out performances in both versions of Parlá, played in her final days by Paloma Morales and in her youth by Angel Juarez. Her story is one that will resonate with many – having a dream that goes against what is expected of you on all fronts.

Paloma Morales (left) and Kenia Romero in a scene from’Queen of the Rumba.. Photo by Rudy Torres

Just as grandiose and genuine as the story itself are the production’s costumes, set design and music. All three go hand-in-hand to create a beautiful ambience that keeps you hooked, and you can truly feel the essence of life in every step of every dance throughout the play. 

The show is currently in its final weeks at the playhouse, with performances through October 22 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 3 pm. For tickets, you can call the Casa 0101 Theater Box Office at (323) 263-7684, email, or purchase online for $20-$25.

Alex Medina is a graduate of Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School and 2018 alumnus of the Boyle Heights Beat. He is a recent graduate of Hamilton College in Central New York where he majored in Hispanic...

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