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Published: Thursday, 10/12/2006

Owens to serve 'Sofrito!'

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

New York performer David Gonzalez fancies himself a cook, although his ingredients tend to be a little less traditional.

So when he created his own version of sofrito, a spicy mix of vegetables and seasonings, he added together a blend of Latin sounds and storytelling.

Sofrito is the base in many Latin American dishes. Tomorrow, that same blend of "savory things" will come to Owens Community College Center for Fine and Performing Arts for a one-night showing of Sofrito!, a performance that is part of the college's Hispanic Heritage Month observance.

"Sofrito is the base sauce that any Latina cook would put in the pot before she makes anything - it's a combination of savory things," Gonzalez said from his home in New York.

"The reason the show is called that is that the show is a mix of delicious ingredients - it has music, drama, dance, humor," he added. "This show was born out of my desire to remember, to memorialize the best of my family tradition."

Half-Cuban, half-Puerto Rican and born and reared in the Bronx, Gonzalez said the show was born from his desire to celebrate the music of his heritage and to keep it "going and growing."

Showcasing Larry Harlow and the Latin Legends Band - made up of Louis Bauzo and Chembo Corniel as percussionists and Bernie Minoso on bass - Sofrito! combines Latin musical theater, storytelling, and dance. Gonzalez said the stories are a part Latin folklore, part life growing up in the Bronx, and pure family entertainment.

Sofrito!, which is in its 10th season, spent many sold-out years at the New Victory Theatre in New York City and has since traveled the world.

"The music captures the feet. The wisdom of the show captures the heart," Gonzalez said.

"There's a sofrito dance. For the lack of a better word, it's a salsa-macarena. Even if you haven't heard salsa before, by the time you're done, you'll be dancing."

Barbara Barkan first learned of Gonzalez's show while attending a conference for those involved in performing art theaters. The operations manager for the Center for Fine and Performing Arts at Owens Community College, Barkan said the show perfectly matched with Owens' commitment to multicultural diversity.

"I think it embodies all the richness of the culture," she said. "My personal belief is that there are no wars fought over the arts and music. Art just translates from culture to culture."

The performers in Sofrito! have been long recognized for their work. Harlow, who composed the music for Sofrito! in 1977, has received numerous awards, as has Gonzalez, whose poetry has been featured on various television and radio shows such as National Public Radio's All Things Considered.

"Sofrito!" will be performed at 8 p.m. tomorrow in the Mainstage Theater of Owens Community College's Center for Fine and Performing Arts, 30335 Oregon Rd., Perrysburg. Tickets, $25 for adults, $23 for senior citizens and Owens employees, and $12 for students, are available from the box office or www.owens.edu/arts. Information: 567-661-2787.

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-724-6076.


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