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May 26, 2019

‘Made’ man: Elizardi Castro’s one-man show about growing up Puerto Rican has found a home in NYC

March 15, 2019
Elizardi Castro in “Made in Puerto Rico.”

“Made in Puerto Rico” may have been developed in Chicago, but Elizardi Castro’s solo show has found a comfortable new home in New York.

A comedy about family, cultural identity and living the Puerto Rican experience on both the island and in New York, the show by writer-performer Castro has been captivating audiences at the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater on W. 47th St. since it opened March 7 thanks to the way the accomplished standup comic has been able to strike a chord with his audience.

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“It appeals mostly to families and it allows them to laugh together at the stories I tell that they can relate to and laugh about and talk about afterwards,” says Castro, who has staged several solo shows, including the recent “One Big Happy Familia.”

“It’s the kind of a show that audiences take home with them.”

Castro portrays several characters in his family from Puerto Rico as well as New York, he says.

“I relive my experience being raised in both (places) and rediscovering my love for the island,” Castro says. “The struggles you go through and how you fit in and knowing where you came from.”

Castro and producer Mike Oquendo, a Chicago native, began developing “Made” 10 years ago, and staged versions of it at least 300 times in the Windy City before bringing it to New York.

While the obvious target market is Puerto Ricans and other Latinos, Oquendo says its sharp insight about identity “comes off as a relatable story that blacks, whites and non-Latinos can enjoy, too.”

It’s why he and Castro see the current run, which ends in mid-April, as just the first step towards Broadway.

“We didn’t come this far just to come this far,” says Castro. “We’ve been at this a long time and faced so many obstacles, so we know what needs to be done to reach a wider and bigger audience. We never sacrificed that goal for our paychecks. We believe that’s our currency — how we laugh and enjoy ourselves with the audience.”

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