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 The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, April, 27 - June, 20 2010

23-3-10: The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity  - 2econd Stage Theater's Press Release:

The Cast Is About To Enter The Ring ...
Casting Announced for
The Second Stage Theatre production of
The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity
Previews begin Tuesday, April 27
Opening Night set for Thursday, May 20

  Click to enlarge

Second Stage Theatre (Carole Rothman, Artistic Director) has announced that Usman Ally, Terrence Archie, Desmin Borges, Christian Litke, and Michael T. Weiss (NBC's "The Pretender") will star in the New York premiere of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, a new play written by Kristoffer Diaz and directed by Edward Torres. Preview performances begin on Tuesday, April 27 with an opening night set for Thursday, May 20 at 6:30pm. For subscription or ticket information, please call the Second Stage Box Office at 212-246-4422 or visit the company's website,

A comic power slam of a play, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity is a theatrical event that dares to throw political correctness out of the ring. Macedonio "The Mace" Guerra is a middle rank pro-wrestler who may have discovered his ticket to the big time: a charismatic, trash-talking Indian kid from Brooklyn whom he recruits as the perfect foil to the All-American champion, Chad Deity. But when their rivalry is used to exploit racial stereotypes in the name of ratings, all three men find themselves fighting for much more than the championship title.

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity will feature scenic design by Brian Sidney Bembridge; costumes by Christine Pascual; lighting design by Jesse Klug; sound design by Mikhail Fiksel; and projection design by Peter Nigrini.

About the Company:
USMAN ALLY (Vigneshwar Paduar aka “VP”) appeared in the Chicago premiere of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity. Other Chicago credits include Relatively Close (Victory Gardens Theater), Arabian Nights and Around the World in 80 Days (Lookingglass Theater), Celebrity Row (American Theatre Company), Tranquility Woods (Steppenwolf First Look), Public Enemy and American Ethnic (Remy Bumppo), and Weapon of Mass Impact (Red Orchid Theater). Regional Credits include A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings (Hippodrome Theatre, FL) and Around the World in 80 Days (Centerstage Baltimore and Kansas City Rep). A proud ensemble member of American Theater Company and StageLeft Theatre Company, he received his MFA in Acting (Magna Cum Laude) from the University of Florida after receiving a BA in Theatre and Cultural Anthropology from Lewis and Clark College. Usman is originally from Pakistan, but was born and raised in Southern and Eastern Africa.

TERENCE ARCHIE (Chad Deity aka “Chad Deity”) recently appeared on Broadway in the revival of Ragtime. Other credits include Camelot with the New York Philharmonic, Ellen Craft at the NY Fringe Festival, Romeo and Juliet at Harlem Classical, and Frederick Douglas Free and GWC Peanut Price, both at Urban Stages. He has appeared on television in “Law and Order” and “One Life To Live,” among others. He is a graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts.

DESMIN BORGES (Macedonio Guerra aka “The Mace”) is making his New York stage debut, reprising his role from the world premiere production of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theatre. His regional credits include Boleros for The Disenchanted (Goodman Theatre), The Crossing and Little Uncertainties (Goodman Theatre Latino Festival), Elliot (A Soldier’s Fugue) (Steppenwolf Garage), The Ascension of Carlotta (16th Street Theatre), The Buddy Holly Story (Mercury Theatre), Disney's Aladdin, Pippi Longstocking, the World Premiere of Esperanza Rising (The Children’s Theatre Co. in Minneapolis), Freedom NY and La Posada Magica (Teatro Vista), and The Defiant Muse, I Sailed with Magellan. Film and Television credits include: Cherry, Milwaukee, Taco Mary, Viva El Mariachi, Good People, Between Two Suns, Evolution and “True Blood” on HBO. Desmin is an Ensemble Member of Teatro Vista and a graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University.

Born and raised in Chicago, CHRISTIAN LITKE (“Billy Heartland”) is a professional actor/stuntman appearing in such films as The Dark Knight, Public Enemies, and Death of a President. He is also the host of the WWE’s Fan Axxess Tour, Biggest Party of the Summer, and Wrestlemania Axxess. A graduate of Columbia College Chicago's theatre program he has been seen in such stage shows as True West, 3 Penny Opera, and Troilus & Cressida. Christian was in the world premiere production of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theatre.

MICHAEL T. WEISS (Everett K. Olson aka “E.K.O.”) recently appeared in Impressionism (Broadway), Scarcity (Drama Desk nom.; Atlantic Theater), Of Equal Measure (Center Theatre Group), Burn This and Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Huntington Theatre Co.), Look Back in Anger, The Taming of the Shrew. Film: Freeway (Sundance), Jeffrey, Bones, Until the Night, Iowa (Tribeca Film Festival; Midwest FF Best Actor Award), Net Worth, Marmalade. TV: starred in NBC’s “The Pretender” portraying more than 50 characters, as well as numerous other series regular and guest star roles.

KRISTOFFER DIAZ’s other plays include Welcome to Arroyo's and Guernica, which have been produced and developed at Victory Gardens Theater, American Theatre Company, The Orchard Project, Hip-Hop Theater Festival, The Lark, Summer Play Festival, Donmar Warehouse, and South Coast Rep. Diaz also was one of the creators of Brink!, the apprentice anthology show at the 2009 Humana Festival of New American Plays. He is a 2009-2010 Jerome Fellow, and a new playwright-in-residence at Teatro Vista.

EDWARD TORRES recently directed the world premiere production of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity for Victory Gardens in association with Teatro Vista. As an actor he was seen in El Grito Del Bronx (Collaboraction Theatre/Goodman Theatre); The Cook (Goodman); and Massacre Sing to Your Children (Teatro Vista/Goodman) and Elliot, A Soldier Fuge (Rivendell Theatre/Steppenwolf). He has a BA in Theatre from Roosevelt University and an MFA in Film from Columbia College (Chicago). Mr. Torres currently serves on the Illinois Arts Council. He has served on the National Endowment for the Arts-Theatre Panel (2005-2007) and on the MAP Fund-Theatre Panel (2008). Directorial credits include: for Teatro Vista, The Show Host, Aurora’s Motive (Jaime Pachino), Ambrosio (Romulus Linney); for Latino Chicago: Do Cocks Have Claws and Wings to Fly (Amparo Garcia) and Lolita De Lares (Migdalia Cruz). Mr. Torres has produced over 25 plays as Artistic Director of Teatro Vista over the last 12 years.

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity will be performed through Sunday, June 20 on the following schedule:
Tuesday at 7pm, Wednesday – Saturday at 8pm, Wednesday and Saturday at 2pm and Sunday at 3pm.
The following exceptions will be made to the regular performance schedule:
Wednesday, April 28 - no 2pm performance
Sunday, May 2 - 2pm and 7pm performances
Monday, May 17 - 8pm performance
Friday, May 21 - no performance
Wednesday, May 26 - 7pm performance
Thursday, May 27 - 7pm performance
Friday, May 28 - 7pm performance

Tickets are $70 and may be purchased by phoning 212-246-4422 or 800-766-6048 or online at
$30 under 30 Youth tickets available - patrons age 30 and under may purchase a limited number of specially-priced $30 tickets in advance. Proof of age must be shown at the box office.
For groups of 15 or more, special preview pricing is available for performances April 27-May 19 for $35.00 and $25.00 for student groups.
A limited number of student rush tickets are $15 and are available one hour prior to curtain.
Group tickets are available by phoning 212-246-4422. Box-office hours are Monday, 10:00am - 6:00pm, Tuesday 10:00am - 7:00pm, Wednesday through Saturday, 10:00am to 8:00pm, and Sunday, 10:00am to 3:00pm.
For more information, please visit

The play was described as follows upon its world premiere in Chicago in October 2009:

Diaz’s exhilarating new play embraces the shameless fakery of the alleged sport of pro wrestling to illuminate, in comic but relentless tones, the more pernicious falsities of race, nation and empire. Perennial ring villain Macedonia Guerra (Borges), Mace for short, and cultural-code-switching Indian wonder Vigneshwar Paduar form the ultimate anti-American team at the urging of wrestling promoter Everett K. Olson. Paduar becomes the vaguely Middle Eastern Fundamentalist, who begins matches by doffing his suicide-bombing belt, and Mace his sombrero-sporting manager, Che Chavez Castro. Their target: African-American world champion Chad Deity, whose sculpted body and infinite self-regard barely conceal his lack of talent.
In his first full-fledged production, Brooklyn-based Diaz combines mad inventiveness with a nervy taste for button-pushing. He’s also created a deeply affecting central character; Mace, who narrates the play, is wrestling’s answer to Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man.
Source: Time Out Chicago, Issue 242: Oct 15–21, 2009

Borges, Ally, Litke going to New York with Chad Deity

It’s official: Desmin Borges, Usman Ally and Christian Litke, of the cast of Chicago’s Victory Gardens/Teatro Vista production world premiere of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (TOC’s number one show of 2009), will reprise their roles in the New York premiere of Kristoffer Diaz’s play at Second Stage, that theater announced today. They’ll be joined by Michael T. Weiss (The Pretender, you guys!) and Terence Archie in the roles created by James Krag and Kamal Angelo Bolden. Director Eddie Torres is also bringing along original designers Brian Sidney Bembridge (scenic), Christine Pascual (costumes), Jesse Klug (lighting), and Misha Fiskel (sound). The Second Stage production runs April 27 - June 19.

Broadway Buzz: Michael T. Weiss & More to Star in The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity at Second Stage

Michael T. Weiss (TV’s The Pretender, Broadway’s Impressionism, off-Broadway’s Scarcity) is among the complete cast of Second Stage’s forthcoming off-Broadway production of Kristoffer Diaz’s The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity. The play will begin previews on April 27, with opening night set for May 20, directed by Edward Torres.

Joining Weiss (who will play Everett K. Olson, a.k.a. “E.K.O.”) in the cast will be Usman Ally (Vigneshwar Paduar, a.k.a. “VP”), Terence Archie (Chad Deity), Desmin Borges (Macedonio Guerra, a.k.a. “The Mace”) and Christian Litke (Billy Heartland).

Described as a comic power-slam of a play, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity is set in the world of pro wrestling. Macedonio “The Mace” Guerra is a middle rank wrestler who may have discovered his ticket to the big time: a charismatic, trash-talking Indian kid from Brooklyn whom he recruits as the perfect foil to the all-American champion, Chad Deity. But when their rivalry is used to exploit racial stereotypes in the name of ratings, all three men find themselves fighting for much more than the championship title.

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity was first produced at Chicago’s Victory Garden Theatre in October 2009 with a cast that included Ally, Borges and Litke and featured a wrestling ring designed by Brian Sidney Bembridge, who will also design the Second Stage production. The off-Broadway creative team also includes Christine Pascual (costumes), Jesse Klug (lighting), Mikhail Fiskel (sound) and Peter Nigrini (projections).

Theater News: Terence Archie, Desmin Borges, Michael T. Weiss, et al. Set for The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity
By: Andy Propst, Mar 23, 2010, New York

Terence Archie will play the title role in Kristoffer Diaz's The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, which will begin previews on April 27 at Second Stage Theatre in anticipation of an official opening on May 20. Edward Torres will direct the production.

The piece is about a middle rank pro-wrestler who may have discovered his ticket to the big time: a charismatic, trash-talking Indian kid from Brooklyn whom he recruits as the perfect foil to the All-American champion, Chad Deity. But when their rivalry is used to exploit racial stereotypes in the name of ratings, all three men find themselves fighting for much more than the championship title.

Archie recently appeared in Ragtime on Broadway and was seen in Camelot with the New York Philharmonic. The company will also feature Usman Ally (Vigneshwar Paduar aka "VP"), Desmin Borges (Macedonio Guerra aka "The Mace"), Christian Litke ("Billy Heartland"), and Michael T. Weiss (Everett K. Olson aka "E.K.O.").

The creative team will include Brian Sidney Bembridge (scenic design), Christine Pascual (costume design), Jesse Klug (lighting desing), Mikhail Fiskel (sound design), and Peter Nigrini (projection design).
Source: TheaterMania

Archie and Weiss Join Chicago Stars for Off-Broadway's Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity
By Ernio Hernandez, 23 Mar 2010

Second Stage Theatre has announced the cast for the New York premiere of Kristoffer Diaz's The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, starting performances April 27.

Edward Torres - who staged the play's Chicago premiere at Victory Gardens Theater - will again direct for Off-Broadway. The run will officially open May 20 and play through June 20 at Second Stage's Off-Broadway home. Terence Archie (Ragtime) stars in the title role opposite Michael T. Weiss (Impressionism, "The Pretender"). They join original Chicago cast members Usman Ally, Desmin Borges and Christian Litke.

In the play, "Macedonio 'The Mace' Guerra is a middle rank pro-wrestler who may have discovered his ticket to the big time: a charismatic, trash-talking Indian kid from Brooklyn whom he recruits as the perfect foil to the All-American champion, Chad Deity," according to show notes. "But when their rivalry is used to exploit racial stereotypes in the name of ratings, all three men find themselves fighting for much more than the championship title."

The Off-Broadway design team will include Brian Sidney Bembridge (scenic), Christine Pascual (costumes), Jesse Klug (lighting), Mikhail Fiskel (sound) and Peter Nigrini (projection).

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity made its world premiere at Chicago's Victory Gardens Theater, in association with Teatro Vista, in fall 2009. Second Stage currently presents John Lithgow and Jennifer Ehle in the world premiere of Douglas Carter Beane's Mr. & Mrs. Fitch (through April 4). Closing out the season will be Paul Weitz's Trust (summer 2010). Tickets to The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity at Second Stage Theatre, 305 West 43rd Street (off Eighth Avenue), are available by calling (212) 246-4422. For more information, visit

31-3-10: Begin of rehearsals - Wrestling Will Be Center Stage at Second Stage

Off-Broadway’s Second Stage Theatre began rehearsing its prized new Second City import, Kristoffer Diaz’s wrestling play, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, on March 30.

An incendiary mix of race, politics and hip-hop in the improbable arena of a wrestling ring, the play is Diaz’s first produced effort. Critics loved it when it world-premiered in fall 2009 at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater; The script was picked Best Play of 2009 by the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and TimeOut Chicago.
Eddie Torres, artistic director of Teatro Vista, did the direction (avoiding anything that smacked of "fight choreography) and will repeat the assignment in NYC.

Three of the original five-man cast will be reprising their performances. Desmin Borges, who was singled out for a star-making turn, is the play’s narrator and perennial bad-guy-in-the-ring, Macedonio Guerra, aka The Mace. Usman Ally is the partner he discovers, a charismatic, trash-talking Indian kid from Brooklyn named Vigneshwar Paduar aka VP — and together they form a tag-team of terrorists and go after the good guy of the title. The third original ring player is Christian Litke, who is the good-guy grist for their mill with names like Billy America and The Patriot.
Terence Archie, the Coalhouse Walker Jr. understudy in Broadway’s recent Ragtime, plays the title character, the All-American world champion.
The ring announcer who bosses about all of the above, exploiting stereotypes in the name of ratings, is Michael T. Weiss, last seen in Broadway’s Impressionism.

Previews will start April 27. Opening night is set for Thursday, May 20.
New York theatre's previous brush with a wrestling theme - Claire Luckham's Teaneck Tanzi: The Venus Flytrap with Andy Kaufman and Deborah Harry - was unhappy. It opened (and closed!) on April 20, 1983, at the Nederlander — this after the theatre’s seats had been expensively replaced with wrestling-arena pews.
Harry Haun
Source: PlaybillBlog

4-27-10: Saved by the Bell: Wrestling Drama Chad Deity Begins Off-Broadway

Second Stage Theatre gets into the ring April 27 when the Off-Broadway company's production of Kristoffer Diaz's The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity - a Pulitzer Prize finalist set in the world of pro-wrestling - begins performances.
Edward Torres - who staged the play's Chicago premiere at Victory Gardens Theater - again directs for the New York premiere. The run will officially open May 20 and play through June 20 at Second Stage's midtown home.

Terence Archie (Ragtime) stars in the title role opposite Michael T. Weiss (Impressionism, "The Pretender"). They join original Chicago cast members Usman Ally, Desmin Borges and Christian Litke.
In The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, "Macedonio 'The Mace' Guerra is a middle rank pro-wrestler who may have discovered his ticket to the big time: a charismatic, trash-talking Indian kid from Brooklyn whom he recruits as the perfect foil to the All-American champion, Chad Deity," according to show notes. "But when their rivalry is used to exploit racial stereotypes in the name of ratings, all three men find themselves fighting for much more than the championship title."
The Off-Broadway design team includes Brian Sidney Bembridge (scenic), Christine Pascual (costumes), Jesse Klug (lighting), Mikhail Fiskel (sound) and Peter Nigrini (projection).

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity made its world premiere at Chicago's Victory Gardens Theater, in association with Teatro Vista, in fall 2009.

Second Stage will close out the current season with Paul Weitz's Trust (July 23-Sept. 5).
The Second Stage Uptown series will feature Michael Golamco's Year Zero (May 18-June 13) and Leslye Headland's Bachelorette (July 12-Aug. 7).

Tickets to The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity at Second Stage Theatre, 305 West 43rd Street (off Eighth Avenue), are available by calling (212) 246-4422. For more information, visit
Ernio Hernandez
Source: Playbill

5-2-10: Two fan reviews from the show on May 2

The actors that they selected to play their parts were PERFECT. They really left it all out there in the ring and it had a little bit of everything: comedy, drama, fantasy, reality, flare, racism. I mean... what more could you ask for? The ending is a bit abrupt, but it speaks to the reality of the businesss and the entity of a corporate machine, in general.
3 stars (out of 4) from Dave Kim at Goldstar, with a photo of the stage. (no actors only members of the audience)

The followng review was kindly sent to me from another fan to use here at "Ask Dr. Mike". Please do not reprint it without asking for permission first.

I was elated to see Michael T.’s new play on Sunday, May 2 at the Second Stage Theater.
Based on the fact that I am NOT a fan of wrestling, this show may have taken me half way there. It was wonderful. There are basically 5 main characters. But everyone was at the top of their game.
And of course Michael T. was outstanding. His was a busy part...on the stage, off the stage, into the ring, out of the ring as announcer and boss. The play had a little of everything...comedy, drama, fights, and wrestling. And the story-telling was somewhat in the rapper type mode. But once your ears got used to the rhythm, you could follow everything that was said. The play is 2 hours with a 15 min. intermission but things could change after the debut on May 20. Maybe not. Either way, it went very fast and I didn’t even realize it was over until everyone came out for the final bows. It is a fast paced play.
Some tips: If you have seats for the first row (row A), wear a water-proof poncho or clothes you don’t care about. The cast members seem to have a lot of saliva and spit motion and you will get spritzed. I’m not talking a slight moistening here. LOL!! There is a lot of interaction with the wrestlers and the audience. So if you want to be part of the action, try and get an aisle seat.
The theater is on the second floor but there is an elevator if the stairs are a bother. Also there is a small snack bar where you can have a quick bite. A very sweet girl from Ireland is there to sell T-Shirts of the show ($28).
I would say if you can go see this play, do it! Even if you are not a fan of wrestling, you will not be disappointed. There is a lot of the use of the *F* and *N* words so maybe not good for children.
I give it 5 out of 5 Stars!!!!
Thanks, CMEW

Cast member Michael T. Weiss, who portrays the wrestling syndicate owner Everett K. Olson, said he viewed the play as less about wrestling than about the frustrations of men who are pitted against one another by a system that seeks to profit from antagonism and conflict.
"The wrestling shouldn't scare off audience members; the sport actually proves to be a great backdrop for a really smart, intellectual piece of theater," said Mr. Weiss, who is best known as the star of the former NBC series "The Pretender." "I mean, would any old play about wrestling become a finalist for a Pulitzer?"
From: 'Here, a Careful Body Slam is as vital as Deft Dialogue' by Patrick Healy, The New York Times. Published: May 16, 2010

5-19-10: Review: Wrestling Action all on Stage!

Playing on the third floor of the 2econd Stage Theatre was a performance so lively and entertaining, it's almost too hard to describe in words! The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, a Pulitzer-nominated play written by Kristoffer Diaz, is a about a Spanish professional wrestler named Maciendonio "The Mace" Guerra (Desmin Borges) who shares what it's like working for Everett K. Olson (Michael T. Weiss), the CEO of wrestling corporation, "THE Wrestling." Mace doesn't like the boss' ideas all the time, but he still abides by them when he goes in the ring with the wrestling champion, Chad Deity (Terence Archie) .... and loses constantly.

Wanting to make it to the pinnacle of his career, Mace recruits a street-talking Indian Boy named Vigneshwar Paduar, or "VP" (Usman Ally), as his wrestling partner. His hope is to steal the spotlight from the narcissistic Chad Deity. However, when the CEO and Chad meet VP, they come up with the idea of making VP and Mace portray American-hating foreigners, bringing stereotypes into THE Wrestling. VP becomes a Middle Eastern terrorist named "the Fundamentalist" and Mace becomes his manager, a Mexican terrorist (name too long to remember), both dressed to look the part.

They make their first few entrances in the mini wrestling ring on stage shouting out to the crowd about how they hate all Americans. They especially "resent" Chad Deity and plan to defeat him. Two big screens standing over the sides of the ring show this live scene at the same time they speak, making it seem like watching wrestling on TV. While the new fundamentalist wrestling duo tries to bring fear to the crowd at THE Wrestling, they also make fun of the racial stereotypes for the audience. This brings a humorous, yet relatable part of the plot and may leave a slight touch of an indignant feeling in people watching the scene.

I get prepared for the action that's about to come after all of this. As Chad Deity and the Fundamentalist get ready for their separate fights, the theater becomes a wrestling arena. Three fights take place. The entrances of Deity, the Fundamentalist and their opponents (all played by Christian Litke), along with the actual fights in the ring make me feel like I'm actually watching the WWE. The stage lights set by Jesse Klug flash brightly in different colors and patterns, the two screens show videos of the wrestlers and the fighters themselves make their dramatic appearances in their own fashions, even if it means getting one or two audience members to help make their scenes look in comparison to the WWE or some other known wrestling federation. All three fights make the audience cheer for the winners.
When it's almost time for the showdown between Deity and the Fundamentalist, VP quits, for he sees how wrong it is that he has to stick with pretending to be a terrorist and gets tired of doing that task. He leaves the federation and watches Mace fight Deity on TV with his girlfriend. When Deity wins and the crowd cheers, the girl says, "Why are they rooting for the bad guy?"

When she said that, I thought about it and said to myself, "She’s right." It doesn't seem right that Deity is stuck up and gets all the glory. That's something VP and Mace mention, but VP does what I think is a smart thing to do: leave.

Kristoffer Diaz's The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity is perhaps the best play I've seen. The fights directed by David Woolley were entertaining (and I do like watching a good fight), but another thing I like about it is the dialogue. When the characters speak, at times it is not only quick, but almost like one long sentence. Every time. Even if you don't pick up everything they say, you just love to hear them talk. Kristoffer made a very thrilling production that reminds audiences to speak out when something is wrong and to not continue what you don't feel too comfortable about. This play deserves two thumbs way up.
by William French on May 19, 2010

5-21-10 (and cont.): Rave Reviews!

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity
(Second Stage Theater; 296 seats; $70 top)
by Marilyn Stasio
A Second Stage presentation of a play in two acts by Kristoffer Diaz. Directed by Edward Torres.

Macedonio Guerra - Desmin Borges
Everett K. Olson - Michael T. Weiss
Chad Deity - Terence Archie
Vigneshwar Paduar - Usman Ally
Joe Jabroni/Billy Heartland/Old Glory - Christian Litke

With "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity," Kristoffer Diaz seems to have invented a brash new theatrical form that might be called "wrestler rap." Designed for serious fun, this terrifically kinetic show sends up the flamboyant absurdities of TV's wrestling world while making shrewd use of its scripted rituals to deliver an instructive parable about the way that codified ethnic stereotyping destroys true friendship among men. Helmed by and outfitted with key players from the premiere production at Chicago's Victory Gardens Theater, offbeat show could take this town. If this doesn't get the guys into the theater, there is no Deity.
If you asked Jesse Klug, he'd probably say it was all about the lighting design, which fills the stage with stacked-up and criss-crossed racks of industrial lights strong enough to land a jet plane. But somewhere in all that amazing metal gridwork is a functional wrestling ring and two giant screens reflecting the stage action as it might look on TV in some techno-freak's basement man-room.
The story that drives this action begins in the Bronx, where the rapping narrator, a sweet Puerto Rican nebbish named Macedonio Guerra, aka Mace (the sensational Desmin Borges), declares his lifelong devotion to the bogus art of professional wrestling. But despite his natural skills, this ace journeyman is doomed to make dancing, prancing crowd-pleasers like Chad Deity (divine, indeed, as played by Terence Archie) look good.
Switching to Brooklyn, the narrative captures Mace's joy when he meets Vigneshwar Paduar, aka VP (Usman Ally, also sensational), an Indian street rapper whose gifted mouth and charismatic style could make him a star. Once Mace takes VP in hand, teaching him basic wrestling moves and pitching him to Everett K. Olson (Michael T. Weiss, greasier than an oil slick), the brash promoter of a hilariously over-the-top show called "THE Wrestling," the boys quickly bond as buddies.
But this friendship is doomed, once Olson chains them to the stereotyped "frightener" personas he dreams up for them -- a bloodthirsty Mexican bandito for Mace and a scowling Muslim terrorist for VP. While the accommodating Mace adjusts to the humiliation, VP rebels, undermining his chance at greatness by making an enemy of the divine Chad Deity.
Even as this tragic backstage drama is unfolding, the wrestling matches continue, in all their preposterous comic glory. Archie's Chad Deity seriously challenges the Rock for Most Gorgeous Man Alive, while Christian Litke, a professional stuntman as well as a hunk of an actor, channels every "Ultimate" showboater you've ever watched on WWE.
And those famous entrances -- hilariously staged triumphal displays that play right to the audience -- are worth the price of admission on their own.
Set, Brian Sidney Bembridge; costumes, Christine Pascual; lighting, Jesse Klug; sound, Mikhail Fiksel; projections, Peter Nigrini; fight director, David Woolley; production stage manager, Roy Harris. Reviewed May 17, 2010. Opened May 20. Running time: 2 Hours.
Source: Variety

Grappling with race and identity - Friday, May 21, 2010
by Robert Feldberg, The Record
The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity
New off-Broadway play, at the Second Stage Theatre, 305 W. 43rd St.
Written by Kristoffer Diaz. Directed by Edward Torres.
With Desmin Borges, Michael T. Weiss, Terence Archie and Usman Ally.
Schedule: 7 p.m. Tuesday; 2 and 8 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday; 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 3 p.m. Sunday.
Tickets: $70. 212-246-4422 or

In "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity," playwright Kristoffer Diaz doesn't make things easy for himself.
He attempts to satirize the self-satirical, while condemning the insensitivity of an industry that thrives on its crassness.
He does manage to find a way, though, to deliver his messages with imagination.
The play, which opened Thursday night at the Second Stage Theatre, is about the world of professional wrestling, presented by Diaz and director Edward Torres in a free-wheeling, hip-hop style.
The set is dominated by a wrestling ring, but the actors wander the aisles, flexing their muscles and interacting with the audience.
The main figure is Macedonio Guerra (Desmin Borges), who grew up poor in the Bronx and has realized his boyhood dream of becoming a pro wrestler.
He's an anonymous "opponent," the guy whose job it is to face the champion, Chad Deity (Terence Archie), and to lose, while using his athletic ability - which is much greater than Deity's - to make the star of the show look good.
He's proud of his craft, his ability to do the "heavy lifting."
The funny, fast-talking Mace, as he's known in the ring, is the evening's narrator, and he's a very engaging one.
Mace's life changes when he learns of a charismatic, rapping young Indian, Vigneshwar Paduar (Usman Ally), known as VP, who's assimilated himself into Latino street culture.
Mace has the brainstorm of making VP a wrestler, and soon Everett K. Olson (Michael T. Weiss), the crude and ignorant owner of the wrestling circuit, for whom all dark-skinned people are interchangeable, comes up with a marketing plan.
VP - "This Israeli Iraqi, whatever he is," in Olson's description - will be sold as a generic Muslim terrorist, known as The Fundamentalist, and his key hold will be the camel crunch.
Meanwhile, Mace, who's Puerto Rican, will become his anti-American, sombrero-wearing Mexican manager, Che Chavez Castro.
The way is carefully paved for a pay-per-view encounter between Deity and VP, but VP grows unhappy about the loss of his identity, even if it's for make-believe, and makes a pivotal decision, while Mace finds himself pulled in different directions, still loving wrestling but forced to face what it is.
The play is rather slow-moving, but its bells and whistles offer distractions, and the exuberant acting is uniformly first-rate.
Diaz has also written some entertainingly colorful speeches, as when Deity boasts of the number of crispers in his refrigerator. ("Do you know how many ... I have? I have four ... two on the bottom and two on the top. My crispers are as big as your freezer, and I don't even use a crisper.")
Using wrestling's racial stereotyping and ethnic insensitivity as a metaphor for what's happening in the country, as the world changes around us, isn't terribly profound.
But Diaz is a talented writer, and it'll be interesting to see what he comes up with next.

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity
To many people, "professional wrestling" is a meaningless pit of stereotypes and aggression, a modern-day combination of the comfortable catharsis of both Greek drama and the Coliseum. It's a black-and-white entertainment, full of "faces" or "heels." (On the darker flip-side, there's drugs and corruption, though those elements of The Wrestler aren't found in this show's peppier darkness.) Those generalities are what makes Kristoffer Diaz's Pulitzer-nominated play, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity so effective: he uses wrestling's lack of nuance as a metaphor for America's lack of nuance: the one condemns the other. In other words, it uses a reductive storytelling sport to expand upon certain realities of life--particularly, for the stage, emphasizing on the sorts of characters who rarely get to tell their stories. It doesn't always work, and sometimes the conventions of his plot device upstage or overshadow the message, but it's a captivating trick.
At the heart of things lie Macedonio Guerra (Desmin Borges, channeling Lin-Manuel Miranda) and Vigneshwar Paduar (Usman Ally). The former, known as "Mace," is a hard-working, talented wrestler, but as he explains in the play's crisp narrative tone, the best wrestlers are the ones who get paid to lose and make the other guy look good. (They're called "jobbers.") Mace doesn't care much for the plastic superstars (as a child, he preferred the bendable action figures, not the pre-posed ones, the ones you couldn't really play with), but he loves the sport--especially its lucha libre roots, and so he's content to wear his mask and get power-bombed, even if it's by someone as moronically celebrated as Chad Deity (Terence Archie), the undefeated champion. This changes, though, when he meets the smooth-talking, charismatic Paduar; he senses an opportunity to write a new sort of story in the ring, to introduce the hustle of the Brooklyn streets--real-life swagger--to the stage. Instead, the boss of THE Wrestling, Everett K. Olson (Michael T. Weiss), goes with the simpler, easier-to-sell-to-America story: Paduar will be The Fundamentalist, he'll use the "Camel Clutch" finisher (later changed to the superkick, although it's called the "Sleeper Cell"), and Guerra will be his crazy Cuban-Mexican manager, Che Chavez Castro. They'll fight people like Joe Jabroni, Billy Heartland, and Old Glory (a professional Christian Litke)--people much like those trotted out on a campaign trail, only in tights.
But what else do you expect from a man who can't pronounce the names of his "help"? That's the larger point Diaz is making: how can we expect America to see Indians as basketball-playing street hustlers if they're only ever depicted as terrorists of some kind? If the Mexican is always lazy or an illegal immigrant, then of course you'll hate him. This point is well-reflected in the easily recognizable signs and signifiers of Brian Sidney Bembridge's pop-cultural explosion of a set (larger-than-life images from iconic movies are recessed into the back wall; an neon orange and purple wrestling ring takes up center-stage) and of Christine Pascual's hilariously pointed costumes (turbans, sombreros, American flags). Thanks to Peter Nigrini's projections, we even get the high-octane entrance videos that, once again, make it easy for the audience to not have to think. It's evident that Director Edward Torres knows what he's doing, especially in the way he involves the audience (don't worry) in the action, getting the adrenaline pumping both on stage and off.
However, Diaz's necessarily over-the-top writing gets away from him, and the lack of nuance in his "evil" characters is a cheap trick, considering what he's denouncing. Olson is a vicious snake-oil salesman--at one point, he calls for a mafia-style beat-down--and proud of it. Chad Deity shows hints of his hard-knock rise to the championship, but in general, his arrogant, third-person attitude makes it seem as if he's just another callous businessman. Stereotypes about these sorts of improperly celebrated capitalists are a dime a dozen, and while it's not really their story, it actually makes the final line of the play much less effective. Along those lines, though Ally has some moments of perfectly indignant anger, his acting is a little halting, to the point that it makes you wonder what Guerra sees in V.P. If it weren't for Borges so solidly anchoring the show and pinning every point to the ground, the show might squirm away from them.
The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity brings a lot of new things to the stage--especially to Second Stage--and that alone excuses the flaws it exhibits. But like In The Heights, its freshness is used as an excuse for much of its sloppiness (and repetition); you'll be glad you went, but you won't want to buy the merchandise.
Posted by Aaron Riccio at 9:52am, May 21
Source: KÜL

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity performed by 2econdStageTheatre in NYC, written by Kristoffer Diaz and directed by Edward Torres; running until June 20th

My preconceived idea about this play is that I wouldn't like it. Just the title of THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY accompanied by the heavily-testosteroned African American wrestler on the cover of the playbill made me feel like I was about to walk into one of those sports biopics along the lines of ROCKY; and while I actually enjoyed watching ROCKY, the thought of enduring such a rah-rah yay-for-everything-in-the-boxing-ring story from the second row of a theater was building up a bit of a dread factor.
However, the title and picture was misleading.
This play was more of a cynical and humorous look of the world of sports television behind the scenes. In fact, THE WRESTLING (title of the television show that this play is about) is more along the lines of one of those reality TV shows that in all actuality has very real reality involved.
Everything is larger than life in the arena of THE WRESTLING. Complete with strobe lights and flash and live on-camera action, the show provides plenty of eye candy, successfully invoking the tacky glamour of the sports world. But not all is as it would seem. Chad Deity (Terence Archie), the star wrestler of the show and parody of Muhummad Ali at the height of his fame, in truth sucks as a wrestler, having the charisma and the body but no real ability. Macedonio Guerra (Desmin Brooks), a regular on the show, gets paid to lose all the matches for a living in order to make the “stars” like Chad Deity look good. When Vigneshwar Paduar, an Indian basketball player from Brooklyn, gets a job on THE WRESTLING, all bets are off as the status quo gets shaken up.
Michael T. Weiss plays Everett K. Olson, the money-hungry producer of THE WRESTLING who will stoop to anything, including exploiting racial stereotypes and stirring up political aggression, to boost up ratings and make money. Weiss plays the role with bombastic humor. I always get a kick out of seeing him play one of the bad guys after so many years of watching his heroic roles such as Mike Horton of DAYS OF OUR LIVES and Jarod of THE PRETENDER. By the by, Michael has a role in the upcoming film, SEX AND THE CITY 2.
The rest of the cast was brought to NYC from Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago and reeked of macho energy as well as excellent comic timing.
An edgy comedy reflecting on the absurdity of the age we live in ...
Posted by Laurie Baker at 11:28pm, May 20

New York Theater : The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity Review: Professional Wrestling As Art and Politics
May 20, 2010 - Jonathan Mandell

"The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity," is indeed elaborate. There is a wrestling ring on the stage, klieg lights, and long moments of real – which is to say, fake - wrestling, heavily muscled characters in cartoon costumes executing body slams and the Powerbomb. We first see Chad Deity himself, the "undefeated, undisputed, unrepeated and undiluted" champ (as the ring announcer introduces him), wearing bling in a stretch limo sipping champagne with a sexy lady, thanks to one of the many videos in the show projected from two huge screens on the stage. Chad then appears in the flesh in the aisle of the Second Stage Theater, showering us with $100 bills, before he charges the stage, disrobing down to his briefs and his champion belt, all well-toned physique and arrogant, gleaming smile.
But Chad Deity, as it turns out, is not the central character of "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity" - that would be the guy knocked out at his feet, Mace - just as this play by Kristoffer Diaz, which was one of the three finalists this year for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, is more than an effort to re-create the experience of professional wrestling. It is a deft if not fully realized comedy. Neither a sharp satire (would it even be worth mocking something that is such a self-conscious parody of itself?), nor a touching drama about the lives of ambitious losers (such as in the 2008 film "The Wrestler" with Mickey Rourke), "Chad Diety" offers a savvy/cynical look at the backstage machinations of this sports-like entertainment in order to make any number of points about American culture and politics.
Macedonia Guerra grew up poor and Puerto Rican in the Bronx, from the age of six playing with the action figures of the American Wrestling Association, while his brothers, much to his contempt, played with those of the World Wrestling Federation. He has now grown up to be a professional wrestler with THE Wrestling, a wrestling organization run by his boss, whom he calls EKO. Mace, as he’s called, is such a good wrestler that he always loses; it takes real skill, he explains, to make his opponents look like champions, especially when (like Chad) they are actually not very good wrestlers. A fixed sport, you say? "Don't dismiss my art form on the basis of it being predetermined," Mace argues, "unless you’re ready to dismiss ballet for the swan already knowing it’s gonna end up dead."
His brothers, now living in Brooklyn, tell him about the coolest dude on the basketball courts of Smith Street, someone so dope that he picks up women using hip-hop phrases or Spanish or Japanese or Urdu or whatever language they happen to speak, even though he himself is an immigrant from India whose family owns businesses all over the borough. His name is Vigneshwar Paduar.
Mace recruits VP into THE, where EKO dubs him The Fundamentalist, and turns him into a bearded Muslim terrorist complete with a suicide bomber’s vest. Mace is made into his sombrero-wearing Mexican revolutionary accomplice Che Chavez Castro, in a spot-on send-up of the ignorance and confusion that color most American fears and hatreds.
The inevitable complications, compromises and conflicts, and a surprise or two, are offered up by a five-member cast that is good enough not to be drowned out by the, yes, elaborate stagecraft. Michael T. Weiss (probably best-known as the star of "The Pretender" on TV) does a wonderful turn as EKO, who is no more of a villain than anybody else who sees everything as a business opportunity. Christian Litke (as various wrestlers) and Terence Archie (as Chad Deity) are completely believable, going so far as to generate real excitement in the audience. Thanks to the script, Chad in particular is given an intelligence that a lesser writer wouldn’t think to allow. They particularly shine when they are boasting live to the cameras, which are projecting their images on the screens in what is a convincing re-creation of the ringside self-interviews you can’t help but have seen at one time in your life if you own a television set.
Desmin Borges is adorable as Mace, the fast-talking, hip-hopping sad-sack who holds his tongue to his boss, but tells the audience everything he wanted to say. Indeed, he is the narrator for much of what happens in the play. As lovely as his performance is, this preponderance of narration is one of the play’s problems. There is a sometimes jarring juxtaposition between Mace’s long monologues and the swift and angry action — the bone-crunching acrobatics but also the verbal confrontations. I am not sure we needed to be told the underlying motivations and meanings when the characters were speaking to one another; it would have made for more engaging drama to let us figure it out on our own. Another problem for me was that we are told that VP has terrific charisma, yet the actor playing him (Usman Ally), in his dress and his manner, did not strike me as any different from the many would-be rappers I walk by every day – which I suppose is part of the humor, but, like Mace’s monologues, undermines our involvement in the characters and the plot.
However lacking in drama, "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity" is a refreshing contrast to the last time professional wrestling was depicted in the theater district, “Teaneck Tanzi: The Venus Flytrap” starring Andy Kaufman as the ref, which opened at the Nederlander Theater 27 years ago and closed the same day. Professional wrestling has arrived back on the New York stage with a smack and a crack and a thud that could not be more eloquent.

Critic's Pick
"The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity" at Second Stage Theatre
reviewed by David Sheward, Mai 20, 2010

Get ready to rumble! Kristoffer Diaz's "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity" will body-slam you to the canvas with a one-two punch of political satire and theatrical showmanship. It's no wonder this high-impact gut punch of a play was shortlisted for the Pulitzer. It's got everything - politics, culture clashes, muscles, explosions, and hard-hitting critiques of the state of America and the world today.
Using the comic-book world of professional wrestling as a weirdly distorting lens, Diaz offers a darkly comic view of American parochialism, and it ain't pretty. The truly skilled athletes are made to play loathsome villains because they happen to be of either Hispanic or South Asian origin, while the dazzling, musclebound headliner, Chad Deity, is a charismatic klutz. The African-American Deity (real name: Darnell) soaks up the riches - he literally throws fistfuls of dollars around - while his opponents do the hard work of taking falls and punches and reap much smaller salaries. Politics are thrown into the mix when ringside bad guys are cast based on cultural stereotypes.
Midlevel wrestler Macedonia "Mace" Guerra (the compelling Desmin Borges) is stuck enacting the perpetual loser to Deity (the energetic Terence Archie) in their pre-staged matches. When Mace encounters Vigneshwar Paduar, aka V.P., an East Indian kid with a firecracker personality, he sees his ticket to glory. The two team up as caricatures representing the twin menaces of illegal immigration and radical Islamic terrorism to topple the all-American and not-so-subtly-named Deity.
Mace is the narrator, and Borges stunningly delivers his long, often hilarious monologues at submachine-gun speed. Yet the actor doesn't stint on Mace's inner turmoil, carefully delineating his love-hate affair with his profession. It's a breakout performance and needs to be seen. Archie offers a dead-on portrait of the narcissistic Deity, whose ego is even bigger than his biceps. He manages to be dead serious when Deity brags about the size of the crispers in his refrigerator, which is a feat in itself. Michael T. Weiss is a ball of Satanic fire as the amoral CEO of the wrestling federation. Usman Ally captures V.P.'s brash swagger and his urgent need to be taken seriously. Christian Litke rounds out this exemplary ensemble with full-bodied work as three quickly dispatched wrestlers.
Edward Torres, who staged the play's world premiere at Chicago's Victory Gardens Theatre, borrows liberally from the pro-wrestling milieu the play lampoons for a dynamite production. Jesse Klug's rock-concert lighting, Peter Nigrini's sharp projections, and Brian Sidney Bembridge's humorous set combine to create a nightmarish arena where the truth is drowned out by razzle-dazzle. But don't let the fireworks fool you; "Chad Deity" is no flashy lightweight. It's the real deal.

Presented by and at Second Stage Theatre, 305 W. 43rd St., NYC. May 20 - June 20. Tue., 7 p.m.; Wed. - Sat., 8 p.m.; Wed. and Sat., 2 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m. (212) 246-4422, (800) 766-6048, or Casting by MelCap Casting.
Source: Backstage

'The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity' review: Kristoffer Diaz's wrestling ring packs a punch
by Joe Dziemianowicz
4 Stars (out of 5)
Originally published: Thursday, May 20th 2010, 4:16pm
Updated: Friday, May 21st 2010, 8:24am

Famous for its shameless fakery, sorry, preset "storylines," pro wrestling isn't the first place you'd go for a smart meditation on current events. Or the second. Or third.
Enter "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity," the flashy, fleshy and ridiculously entertaining play by Kristoffer Diaz, which was recently named a Pulitzer finalist. The writer works the pro-wrestling ring and its cartoony posable men in tights to ask questions and push buttons about easy stereotypes and the dread of terrorism.
Now running at Second Stage, the play provides a transfusion of high-octane talent to Off-Broadway - author, ace cast and director Edward Torres, who knows how to jack up a production. That includes the top-drawer design team - Brian Sidney Bembridge (set), Christine Pascual (costumes), Jesse Klug (lights), Mikhail Fiksel (sound) and Peter Nigrini (projections). Their contributions create a vivid one-ring wrestling circus that spills into the theater (be prepared to picked up or fanned by a waving U.S. flag).
Gliding in and out of the action to guide us is middle-rank grappler Macedonia Guerra (an irresistible Desmin Borges), a.k.a. Mace. He's a Bronx-bred Puerto Rican motormouth with a rapper's rhythm and a runty physique that masks his impressive skills in the ring.
Pro wrestling is a choreographed dance, he explains, a contract between winner (the guy who kicks) and loser (the guy who lets himself get kicked). Audiences know it -and buy it. Mace's role is to always lose so the buff but untalented black champion Chad Deity (Terence Archie, charisma on steroids) can look good.
Making Chad look even better is what propels the plot. Oily wrestling promoter Everett K. Olson (Michael T. Weiss) transforms Vigneshwar Paduar (Usman Ally), a low-key multilingual Indian-American hipster from Brooklyn, into "The Fundamentalist," a randomly (and absurdly) Middle Eastern wrestler with a terrorist's suicide-bomber vest and a secret-weapon move called "the sleeper cell."
Together with Mace, who poses as his sombrero-wearing sidekick, Che Chavez Castro, VP becomes the hissable and highly marketable threat to Chad and other grapplers like Billy Heartland and Old Glory, played by the hulking honey-haired Christian Litke.
Though Diaz's script gets a little flabby and heavy before its conclusion, it always provides a provocative kick.

'Chad Deity' opens in New York
The Victory Gardens Theater production of "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity" opened at New York's Second Stage last night, popping with a Chicago crew. It looks like it will be a hit. Broadway, perchance, is on the cards.
Chris Jones, posted on May 21, 2010 at 07:57:30am in Victory Gardens

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity
Reviewed By: Patrick Lee - May 21, 2010 - New York

Early on in Kristofer Diaz's vivid, viscerally exciting 'The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity,' now performing at Second Stage Theatre, we're told that "professional wrestling is the most uniquely profound artistic expression of the ideals of the United States." That those ideals turn out to be the racism, nationalism, and xenophobia that are part of pro wrestling's tools to rabble-rouse is the intriguing crux of the play.
Still, the work doesn't quite fulfill its tantalizing thematic promise and falls short of making a truly provocative statement, the play is fiercely original and hugely entertaining. It's also been given a top-notch production, under Edward Torres' direction, with a seemingly perfect cast.
Part of the play's excitement is that its main character is such a distinct, fresh creation. Macedonio (Desmin Borges), a 30-year-old Puerto Rican Brooklynite, gives us the low down about wrestling (read: America) in vibrant, although a bit too constant, hip-hop rhythmic narration. He loves wrestling so much he's willing to play patsy in the ring to make the champions, like the ludicrously blinged out and pumped-up Chad Deity (Terence Archie), look better.
Macedonio is no sucker, however; he knows very well how the untalented wrestlers like Deity are cast as the heroes of the ring on the backs of the talented wrestlers like himself who don't fit the mold of stereotypically flag-waving wrestlers. In fact, Macedonio's belief in wrestling is made analogous to blind patriotism. And while his willingness to play the fool could have made him a hugely unappealing character; by dint of the power of the language that Diaz gives him and also by the vulnerability that Borges brings to him, he's a strangely poignant, electrifying comic original.
Despite the magnetic appeal of the main character and the excitement of the play's many wrestling matches (which usually too closely resemble pro wrestling in all its morally simplistic stereotyping to reasonably be called satirical), the playwright runs into trouble rendering the dramatic part of the play. When the playwright first introduces multi-culti street hotshot Vigneshwar Paduar (Usman Ally), he has Macedonio believe, markedly out of character, that this new guy might be cast as one of the sport's heroes by his boss (Michael T. Weiss). Instead, the two are teamed and given new, insulting villain personas -- the new guy as a Muslim terrorist wrestler (whose specialty move is dubbed the "sleeper cell kick") and Macedonio as his Mexican revolutionary sidekick.
The playwright scores a lot of laughs off the ludicrousness of their new act, but doesn't adequately chart the friendship with the detail that would be needed to give the play dramatic conflict. It also should be noted, that the playwright steers entirely clear of some of pro wrestling's other common targets for demonization, which would add heft to this slight if entertaining work.
Source: TheaterMania

A CurtainUp Review
The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity
by Elyse Sommer

Neither of this year's Pulitzer Prize runner-ups for drama began life in New York. Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo by Rajiv Joseph had its world premiere in Los Angeles. The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz premiered in that seedbed city of attention-must-be-paid theater activity, Chicago. The almost Pulitzer buzz prompted the LA Center Group to re-open Bengal Tiger... in its main and larger venue. Muscle man Chad Deity, the wrestling champion for whom Kristoffer Diaz's play is named, has already been asked to make his elaborate entry at a bunch of theaters. (Philadelphia's Interact Theater mounted a production while the Chicago premiere was still finishing its run where Curtainup's Kathryn Osenlund reported on it.
Now this hip-hop and testerone fueled play about the world of wrestling has landed at Second Stage. It features the same director, creative team and two of the actors from the Victory Gardens production.
So does it live up to all the buzz?
It does. But that's not to say it's going to bowl everyone over shades of Chicago imports like Tracy Letts' August Osage County - which did win the Pulitzer - or David Cromer's terrific new staging of Our Town (a 1937 Pulitzer Prize winner) which continues to enjoy a long run in Manhattan's West Village.
There's no question that this at times blinding and deafening spectacle is like nothing you've ever seen. It's loud and vulgar, with humor that veers towards being offensive. And yes it is about wrestling, which isn't likely to be a prime interest of most New York theater goers. On the other hand, it's not really about wrestling. Diaz's no-holds bar picture of this shamelessly full of fakery sport serves as a multi-pronged metaphor for a looks above talent and money over all driven pop culture, the sins of capitalism, racism and jingoism.
Director Edward Torres and set designer Brian Sidney Bainbridge have turned the stage into a dizzying circus scene. It's dominated by a functioning wrestling ring that's framed by frequently and brilliantly used giant video screens and garish images of aggressive animals (a rooster primed for a cock fight, a shark, a lion, etc).
Except for the ringmaster, Everett K. Olsen a.k.a. EKO (Michael T. Weiss personifying sleaze, greed and obtuseness), the men on stage actually do wrestle - very realistically so since fight director David Wooley has heeded the playwright's detailed and very explicit directions to make sure that "any wrestling moves used in the course of the play are indeed wrestling moves and not stage combat." Never have I seen a play that makes the fight director's job so challenging and the actors' jobs so prone to injury and, at the very least, lots of back and knee pains.
EKA is the ruthless CEO of a fictional organization known as "THE Wrestling," and the play's villain. But there's also a hero, a young Puerto Rican from the Bronx named Macedonia Guerra (Desmin Borges). He's renamed "The Mace" by EK who deems his real name too hard to pronounce, an opinion seconded by the African-American Chad (Terence Archie, sporting an awe inspiring physique and making it clear that he's as untalented as he is charismatic).
As Mace sees it, his full name is hard only for white people and non-Spanish speaking Americans but he lets EK have the last word: "Wrestling fans do not speak Spanish." That exchange is typical of Mace's relationship with EK and the the Champ. He knows he's smarter than EK and he knows that Chad is a bad wrestler whose championship's belt is the result of his being a good-looking hunk and because Mace makes him look good. In short, Mace is THE Wrestling's invisible man. He hides his smarts to make his boss feel good and in charge. He hides his own wrestling skills in order to be part of this world even if that role brings plenty of aches and pains from constantly playing the loser but neither public recognition or adequate financial rewards. He nevertheless sees it as a dream job that makes him "in love with who I am."
Desmin Borges may play a man who makes himself invisible to be one of THE Wrestlers but his role on stage is anything but invisible. If this is anyone's show, it's his. He's in the wrestling ring to let us actually see the moves by him that are the secret of Chad's success. He's also our wise and witty narrator, segeuing nimbly between being part of the story line and sharing his wisdom with the audience in motor-mouthed street talk and hip-hop raps that within the context of the flamboyant staging often make this feel like a musical. It's a humongous role that calls for him to alternate huge chunks of text with being tossed on his back in a pretend match.
But though Mace may be willing to sublimate his own ambition for championship standing, he ends up being the handler and pretend-bad partner for Vigneshwar Paduar or VJ (Usman Ally, like Borges a lucky holdover from the Chicago production), a young Indian-American from Brooklyn he discovers at a basketball game and persuades EK to make part of THE Wrestler stable. VJ too likes hip-hop and addresses the audience about stuff like outsourcing tech jobs and a family-run business.
Under EK's comic book style dictatorship VJ and Mace are partnered as caricatures symbolizing illegal immigrants and radical terrorists - with VJ turned into a beareded Muslim terrorist called The Fundamentalist and Mace into an undesirable Mexican. There are three colorful symbolic stereotypes (all played by Christian Litke) making their own elaborate entrances and giving the mock good guy versus bad guy money motivated scenario a seriously dangerous edge.
The political satire (starting with Chad's name) can get a bit heavy-handed, the dialogue requires keen attention to catch its multi-cultural rhythms and it will take some more than others to succumb to the circus-y absurdity of it all. A ten or fifteen minute trim wouldn't hurt either. Quibbles notwithstanding, this is a tasty mix of lively staging and a clever use of a background that makes you wonder why no one has coupled it with political satire before.
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer at 5/19/10 press preview
Source: CurtainUp

Body Slam to the American Dream
The fights are fixed, and the man-crushing body slams are faked. But the energy that radiates from "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity," Kristoffer Diaz's crazy-like-a-fox comedy about television wrestling, is the real thing. This delightfully muscular production, which opened Thursday night at the Second Stage Theater, courses with the vital sap of an able-bodied satire enjoying a rollicking love-hate affair with its subject.
Mr. Diaz's play, an import from the Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago, hits the canvas in a frenzy of fancy footwork that doesn't let up until its last 10 or 15 minutes. (That's when The Message arrives, but never mind that for now.) As directed by Edward Torres, with a cast that couldn't look happier being thrown about like sweaty rag dolls, "Chad Deity" is punch drunk on the adrenaline, verbal as well as physical, it brings to presenting an illusion-based sport as the true American pastime.
"Chad Deity" was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in drama this year. And more than most works that make that short list, it fulfills the official desiderata that Pulitzer plays reflect and explore the American experience. In examining what happens before and behind the cameras at a company called THE Wrestling (as opposed to its near-identical twin, World Wrestling Entertainment), "Chad Deity" plumbs a United States that wallows in ready-made myths it doesn't even believe in.
That includes the ideal of a happy, swirlingmelting pot of assimilated ethnic identities. As it tells the story of life at THE Wrestling through the eyes of a professional fall guy, Macedonio Guerra (Desmin Borges), "Chad Deity" considers how notions of race are manipulated, massaged, distorted and turned inside out in the name of violent but reassuring entertainment. Just so you know, the climactic fight that the plot builds to is between a beloved, strapping African-American wrestler - the title character (Terence Archie), who has appropriated the opulent, money-flashing style of hip-hop kings - and a swarthy, bearded nemesis whose nom de guerre is (wait for it) the Fundamentalist (played by Usman Ally).
Subtlety, obviously, is not among the virtues of Chad Deity. But then as Macedonio, better known as Mace, observes, TV wrestling is hardly a subtle sport. And if Chad Deity isn’t subtle, it is certainly ingenious in exploiting the entertainment value of the very pseudo-sport it mocks. In both its live depiction and recollected accounts of the season's big matches, the show brazenly milks its audience for the exaggerated responses that this brand of wrestling is expected to elicit.
So when Mace, while guiding us through the phases of a particular match, says, "The crowd gasped," the Second Stage audience obligingly echoes with a gasp of its own. Our complicity is similarly enlisted throughout the production, which sends its stars to strut their cartoonish stuff while dazzling us with bright lights and pulsing music.
The joke is that we're in on the joke. But can't that be said about the audience for television wrestling? Beneath its vigor and sparkle, Chad Deity harbors a zero-at-the-bone indictment of Americans who accept simplistic, easy-to-grasp and spurious images that they know have been manufactured. Heck, most of them know exactly how those images were created.
So does Mace, big time. He's a Puerto Rican kid from the Bronx who grew up enamored of the televised wrestling scene. The plastic, muscle-bound figurines he played with turned out to be good preparation for the people he would work with later. Mace is now the guy who goes into the ring to make the other wrestlers - the ones with more charisma but a lot less talent - look good. For Mace, wrestling is an inspiring national ritual in which nobody gets hurt and is "one of the most profound expressions of the ideals of this damn nation."
Mace isn't the only guy around who talks in such a high-falutin' way. Everybody in Chad Deity speaks in high-concept symbols, starting with the glamour boy Chad and the THE Wrestling entrepreneur, Everett K. Olson (an impeccably unctuous Michael T. Weiss), also known as E.K.O. The show scores resonant points in suggesting just how metaphor-driven this country is. Which is not to say that we Americans are complex poets. On the contrary, the metaphors that Olson peddles, like those of most politicians, are primitive equations. The personas of Olson's star wrestlers are embodiments of tidy cultural perceptions. Mr. Archie's gleaming-toothed, limousine-riding Chad gives flesh to the comforting fiction that blacks have been thoroughly assimilated into the American dream.
That ethnic identity is never so simple in these United States is made evident when Mace recruits Vigneshwar Paduar (Mr. Ally), a young man from Brooklyn of Indian descent who speaks and acts (when he wants to) like a Chicano fly boy, and is also fluent in an assortment of other languages with matching poses.
This racial chameleon could be prettymuch any national type, at least among those with darkish skins. And that's why E.K.O. decides to transform him into the Fundamentalist, a robe-wearing Muslim whose specialty is the "sleeper cell kick" and who is advertised as a threat to all that Americans hold dear.
These amusing if obvious parodic elements couldn’t be sustained if the production didn’t translate theminto such thoroughly theatrical terms. If Mr. Diaz's breathless, pumped-up language incarnates the self-charging rhythms, hyperbole and surface spectacle of the world it portrays, so does nearly every aspect of Mr. Torres's production.
That includes Brian Sidney Bembridge's big-boy playroom of a set, Christine Pascual's lurid costumes, Jesse Klug's lighting, Mikhail Fiksel's sound design and Peter Nigrini's videos, which remind us of the mystical transformative powers of a television frame. The onstage fights, directed by David Woolley, feel as real as the real thing, which is pretty real for something that isn't.
The castmembers, who also include Christian Litke as a variety of archetypal American wrestlers, are all fun to watch. And in the pivotal role of Mace, who is haunted by the suspicion that he's too smart to be doing what he's doing, Mr. Borges gets us on his side fromthe first and keeps us there. This is true even when the play takes a turn into Clifford Odets-style earnestness at the end, a detour that is of a piece with the play's theme but not with its jaunty, double-edged tone.
Up to then, "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity" (which deserves a more prepossessing title) has the delicious crackle and pop of a galloping, honest-to-God, all-American satire, a genre that seldom shows up these days. Like George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart in "Once in a Lifetime," their 1930 play about that demented land of Hollywood, Mr. Diaz knows that it requires a wellarmed cartoonist to take on a world populated by human cartoons. This vibrant young playwright speaks - and revels in - the hyperbolic language of caricature, all the better to undermine it.

Whomp! Oof! Wrestling play packs a punch
Elisabeth Vincentelli
Last Updated: 9:38 AM, May 22, 2010
Posted: 2:41 AM, May 21, 2010
4 Stars (out of 4)

You can't describe "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity" without resorting to exclamation points, and lots of them. There's an actual pro-wrestling ring onstage! A video clip shows a woman in a burqa wielding a nunchuk! A beefy guy spins out a hilarious monologue about raisin bread! A wrestler named Old Glory gets a roomful of New York theatergoers to chant "USA! USA!"
If this feels breathless, so is this dynamite show, which is like Tarantino tackling the WWF.
Except that while playwright Kristoffer Diaz shares the filmmaker's gift for snappy dialogue, action sequences and pop references, he avoids Tarantino's callous hipness.
"Chad Deity," the Pulitzer Prize finalist that opened last night at Second Stage, is more than just catchy visuals, laugh-out-loud lines and steroid-juiced guys executing powerbombs. It's a real story -- full of heroes and villains, though you can't tell which is which. That's part of the fun, and part of the moral.
Our motor-mouthed narrator is The Mace (Desmin Borges), a diminutive fighter who's meant to make ring hero Chad Deity (Terence Archie) look good. The Puerto Rican, Bronx-raised Mace grooms his Brooklyn buddy, Vigneshwar Paduar (Usman Ally), to become Chad's over-the-top foe: The Fundamentalist, a bearded terrorist "trained in the deadly MMA -- Muslim Martial Arts." Insert as many exclamation points as necessary here.
That these characters feel so genuine is all the more surprising -- and canny of Diaz -- because wrestlers are fakers, and their industry is about building myths that both anticipate and defy their fans' expectations.
Wrestling is a metaphor for America, Diaz implies. It's all about creating heroes and enemies by manipulating stereotypes, and turning the whole mess into pop-culture fodder.
Diaz has found the perfect accomplice in director Edwin Torres, who also staged the play (with the same cast) in Chicago. When wrestlers make their entrances, the stage explodes in a kinetic orgy of blinding lights and deafening music.
But Torres and his charismatic actors also bring out the text's smarts and emotions, without making them preachy or treacly. Like the best wrestlers, they know that, in the end, it's all about delivering high-impact entertainment.

From the Post's Theater Blog:
The Elaborate Entrance of Kristoffer Diaz
May 21, 2010 - Elisabeth Vincentelli
Kristoffer Diaz's new play "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity" (which opened last night at Second Stage) is a total riot. As soon as it was over, I couldn't wait to see it again. It's loud, brash, funny, smart -- Diaz and director Edwin Torres have delivered the total package. The show is packed with vitamins and nutrients and stuff that's actually good for you, and yet it still looks and tastes as if it was pumped solely with sugar and caffeine. How awesome is that?
In case you didn't grow up watching "WrestleMania," the title of the show refers to the ceremonial way pro-wrestlers enter the arena before a fight (or is that a "fight"?). And yeah, there's actual wrestling on stage, with real big guys in real small trunks.
In the production script, Diaz helpfully gives tips to directors as to what kind of inspiration they should look for. Among the classic he-men he singles out: Triple H (behold the king!), Sandman (set to Metallica -- duh) Goldberg (pyro!) and of course Hulk Hogan (a bigger flag can only be found at a car dealership). I may just have to come up with my own theme song, which would blare every time I set foot in a theater. Hmmm...

4 Stars (out of 5)
The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity
Pro wrestling body-slams conventional theater at Second Stage - by David Cote

Sorry, kids, but the game is fixed, and the fighting is fake - and I'm not talking about the pro-wrestling shenanigans on display in The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity. Although Kristoffer Diaz's diesel-fueled showbiz-drama-cum-race-satire is full of choreographed muscle heads pile driving each other to the mat, another contest seems to have been rigged: this year's Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Last month, you may recall, the board of that prestigious trinket bypassed its expert panel's recommendations and tossed the laurel on Next to Normal, still on Broadway. The musical, about a white, suburban family plagued by mental illness, is a smart, unusually adult Broadway attraction, but Pulitizer-worthy? Chad Deity had been short-listed for the award, and now that it has arrived after its acclaimed 2009 run at Chicago's Victory Gardens Theater, we can confirm that this fresh and inventive comedy was robbed. Diaz and his ingenious director, Edward Torres, create a giddily adrenalized, primary-hued circus of racial signifiers and cultural buzzwords to critique political narratives in a post-9/11 America. Chad Deity should have won. If such a dirty trick had been played on the title champion, he wouldn't take it lying down; rather, Chad (Archie) would grab a folding chair and get to work on the Pulitzer suits.
But let's forget the lost gold and focus on the bigger victory. Who'd have predicted the relatively staid Second Stage Theatre (which also premiered Next to Normal, ironically) would present this multicultural fable with MTV smash-cut aesthetics and an angry message of minority empowerment? Chad Deity stands out at season's end as the sort of populist, hip-hop-driven fare we lack in a scene dominated by middle-class angst and normative dramatic structures. Diaz chose a debased and gaudy (albeit wealth-generating) subject and squeezed it hard for metaphorical juice.
And he’s not hiding it. As our narrator and ostensible hero, Macedonia Guerra (Borges) explains, "[P]rofessional wrestling is the most uniquely profound artistic expression of the ideals of the United States." A little later, he observes that "what we do is metaphoric ... the value of two men in silly outfits pretending to beat each other into submission is not in the fight - it’s in the communion."
In truth, Mace talks too much. It’s a miracle Borges doesn't get hoarse or hyperventilate from all the high-speed patter he spews throughout two hours. Chad Deity is by no means a perfect play. It's overwritten in parts, and some details about the fictional corporation THE Wrestling seem confusing (Mace is key to superstar Chad Deity's success, but still he's poorly paid?). Nevertheless, Mace is unfailingly engaging, and he does more than underscore themes; he annotates wrestling moves, offers parenthetical remarks on his and other characters’ motives, and works the crowd like a stand-up genius. Borges maintains a shyly swaggering facade that belies the excited teen underneath the jaded pro. Mace knows that his job isn't a sport and that the use of hyperbolic racial stereotypes - assimilated black Adonis, weaselly Latino, sociopathic Arab, dumb-but-pure white guy - both mocks and legitimizes the worst prejudices of the audience.
Those biases are sorely tested with the debut of Vigneshwar Paduar (Ally), an Indian-American B-boy who wants to bring a hip-hop Hindi flavor to the ring. THE Wrestling's sharkish white owner (Weiss) rebrands the newcomer as a bin Laden clone called the Fundamentalist and pairs him up with Mace playing a U.S.-hating Pan-Hispanic revolutionary. Forced into this cheap, soul-corroding narrative, Vigneshwar and Mace try to rewrite their scripts in a mad bid to topple Chad (Archie, dancing on the razor's edge of foolish and tragic).
Savvy and yet shockingly sincere, Chad Deity has a final line that may take your breath away, indicating that the creators have more on their minds than "superkicks" and "powerbombs." Diaz and Torres treat their audience with respect, knowing that they can process R. Kelly blasting from the speakers, klieg lights flash-frying their pupils and buff guys in spandex one minute - and subtle arguments about cultural assimilation the next. This is a story about race, class, wealth and social mobility, wrapped in the sort of bombastic level of showmanship you won’t see outside of opera or, naturally, an actual pay-per-view WWE extravaganza. Theater shouldn’t necessarily aspire to Vince McMahon’s ham-fisted theatrics, but it could be so much more relevant and urgent than it usually is.
Source: Time Out New York / Issue 765 : May 27 - Jun 2, 2010

Wrestlers! Mayhem!
4 Stars (out of 5)
The Financial Times has published my review of the new off-Broadway play, "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity."
by Brendan Lemon ; Published: May 24, 2010

Macedonio Guerra, the Bronx-born Puerto Rican played by the explosive Desmin Borges in Kristoffer Diaz's The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, sprays his monologues with gusto and glee, but his rapid-fire verbal rhythms point up a challenge: how can a non-musical play incorporate hip-hop-style rhythms effectively?
It's a problem that has bedevilled the theatre almost since the moment the genre was hatched three decades ago: the rapid-fire delivery of an expert MC creates propulsive excitement, but, shorn of a bass beat, words in a similar vernacular may go at such a clip that meaning is lost. But even if Macedonio's speed isn't always ideal for conveying Diaz's story, even if storytelling in general is something the playwright is still mastering, the excitement of Chad Deity, directed with precision by Edward Torres, is nevertheless palpable. An array of techniques - live video, cinematic sound effects - is marshalled to create an evening that is often entertaining and always alive.
Diaz takes aim at the racial and ethnic stereotypes embedded in American mass culture, and he does it in an arena that couldn't be more lowbrow: professional wrestling. In the brightly-lit world of his wrestling-league employer, Guerra is the guy who takes the fall for the muscle-bound African-American champ, Chad Deity, until one day an Indian from the neighbourhood - Vigneshwar Paduar, given a sly performance by Usman Ally - shows up to pose a threat to that reigning god.
With sometimes heavy-handed self-consciousness, Diaz pokes fun at his own tendency to use wrestling as a metaphor for almost everything, especially political fakery and economic globalisation, but his handling of all the implications is frequently adept. Paduar allows the wresting promoter, Everett K. Olson - the commandingly voiced Michael T. Weiss - to repackage him as a Muslim terrorist type of limited intelligence: this in spite of the fact that Paduar speaks several languages and has charm sufficient to coax a dog from a meat locker.
There's something enormously fresh about the use of wrestling - which, along with its cousin, extreme fighting, furnishes some of the highest-rated programmes on American cable TV - to score socio-economic meaning. The genre has for so long been enrolled to showcase lovable losers (think Mickey Rourke, and, decades before him, Wallace Beery) that I was dubious as to whether Chad Deity could find anything unusual to say about the sport. But it does.
Source: Lemonwade

A punch in the gut. A right to the jugular. A powerbomb to the midsection. Kristoffer Diaz's The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity grabs you by the nape of your neck and doesn't let go until its shattering climax. A Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2010, Chad Deity is simply the most exciting theatrical event of the year. Diaz puts the world of professional wrestling center stage and then before your eyes turns it into a political parable of the way we live now. Edward Torres who directed the world premiere at Chicago's Victory Gardens has recreated his remarkable production with the entire original production team (with one exception), as well as three of the five original actors.
Although Diaz's work is not yet know in New York, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity is a very sophisticated piece of theater. Written in the present tense, the play makes use of real time, multi-media technology, a total knowledge of its subject matter, characters directly addressing the audience, audience participation, acceptable political incorrectness, hilarious use of the vernacular, and a narrator that immediately becomes an intimate of the listeners.
It is also a satiric comment on our society, using the cartoon world of wrestling to make its points: the greed, the consumerism, the racism, the xenophobia, the image making, the star system that defines America in this decade. The integration of the projection design by Peter Nigrini (new to the Chicago team) is some of the best use of video in a stage play up until now.
The cast of Desmin Borges, Michael T. Weiss, Terence Archie, Usman Ally and Christian Litke (in order of appearance) has been brilliantly chosen for both their perfect physical presence and acting abilities. The production team of Brian Sidney Bembridge (sets) Christine Pascual (costumes), Jesse Klug (lighting), Mikhail Fiksel (sound), David Wooley (fight director) and the previously mention Nigrini could simply not be better.
To blaring music, the stage reveals the wrestling ring set of a television studio with an office to the side.
Puerto Rican Macedonia Guerra, a mid-level professional wrestler in mid-career, known as The Mace, (played by Borges) tells us his story. Enthralled by television wrestling from the time he was six, it is his dream come true to be working for Everett K. Olson, (Weiss), known as EKO, the Caucasian owner of THE Wrestling.
However, the star of THE Wrestling is the All-American champion, the charismatic African-American hero, Chad Deity (Archie), who is not a particularly good wrestler. As The Mace tells us, he has always known that professional wrestling is staged from scenarios pre-rehearsed long in advance in order to sell tickets and merchandise. The Mace’s job is to make Chad Deity look good by doing the heavy-lifting in wrestling parlance. Up until now he hasn’t minded, as he still hungers to be a part of it all.
Without admitting it, The Mace is beginning to tire of the racism, stereotyping, and his always being relegated to playing second banana. When he finds in Brooklyn, a hip young Indian-American, Vigneshwar Paduar (Ally), (nicknamed VP) who is not only a great athlete but equally charismatic, he thinks that VP may be his ticket to the top. The boss, EKO, is taken with VP - but not for The Mace’s reasons.
EKO sees VP as a great asset, now renamed The Fundamentalist, and plays into the wrestling fans' prejudices, with The Mace as his Latino manager now renamed Che Chavez Velez, The Mexican Revolutionary. For those who haven't gotten the political agenda yet, The Fundamentalist is given a specialty move called "the sleeper cell kick" when he goes up against the All-American champion. And when The Fundamentalist becomes a media star, the only place he can go is up against Chad Deity, the home-grown hero.
If Borges were not on such an adrenaline high as The Mace, his express-train delivery as the narrator might not be so effective. Borges is also terrific at delineating a man who knows he will always be a cog in the wheel, but is willing to accept that the works can't run without him. Archie not only has the good looks and the bulging muscles to be the Chad Deity of our imagination, he is excellent at Deity's self-confidence and overweening arrogance as the superstar who brags convincingly about how many empty crispers he has in his refrigerator.
With a terrific baritone voice as the ring-side announcer, Weiss is also amusing as the Big Boss who tells it like it is, and the rest of us can just lump it if our feelings or sensibilities are hurt. Like most CEOs he is just in it for the ratings which equate to earning power. As VP, later The Fundamentalist, Ally has the tightly wound tenseness of the time bomb waiting to detonate, while he seeks his place in a world that has no use for him. Litke gives able support as three wrestlers (Joe Jabroni, Billy Heartland, and Old Glory) whose job it is to lose to the champion.
Diaz has a terrific ear for the wrestling lingo and he makes excellent use of it for both local color and for the humor implicit in its choice of idiom. A good deal of the show is devoted to Negrini's hilariously over-the-top promos and elaborately filmed entrances that are viewed on dual video screens high above the ring before the wrestlers enter through the audience to blinding spotlights designed by Klug. Pascual's costumes capture the circus - like atmosphere of the professional wrestling ring, while at the same time mocking us for our acceptance of such stereotyping.
Torres' realistic direction high on amphetamines makes us almost miss the scathing satire of the image men and the spin doctors who manipulate public opinion with an agenda that is predetermined to work on people’s innate prejudices and bigotry. At the same time Torres keeps the temperature and tension continually rising to a fever pitch.
Kristoffer Diaz's The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity is a play that must be seen, both because it is an entirely theatrical event that can not be experienced any other way and because it is the breakout work of an important new voice in the American theater. Edward Torres' production is both riveting and breath-taking for all the right reasons, and his cast offers star-making performances from unfamiliar actors who should be heard of soon again in important future projects.
(through June 20) Second Stage Theatre, 305 W. 43rd Street, in Manhattan.
For tickets, call 212-246-4422 or

25.05.2010 By: Victor Gluck. Victor can be contacted at oldvic80 @

Theatre in Review: The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (Second Stage)

If you're looking for the pure, jolting, hilarious thrill that happens when you encounter a new theatrical voice, you can do no better than to get to Second Stage for The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, which begins by spoofing the exaggerated and flagrantly false theatrics of, say, the World Wrestling Federation, and ends up indicting the way we live now. A (literally) smashing production, The Elaborate Entrance... uses the crazed world of the fictional THE Wrestling, to comment on populist politics, immigration, and this country's complex ethnic pecking order. If that sounds too serious, don't worry. Thanks to reams of endlessly quotable dialogue and an electrifying design, this production is practically guaranteed to rock the house.
Our narrator is Mace, a Puerto Rican guy from the Bronx who, since childhood, has dreamed of being part of the THE Wrestling. So what if, in the network's scripted universe, he's been permanently cast as a loser, doomed to take a fall each week against Chad Deity, the all-powerful Sun God of the fake-wrestling universe? (According to Chad's introduction, "He is THE one and only wonder of the world. He is THE American Dream. He is the undefeated, undisputed, unrepeated, and undiluted THE Wrestling champion.") The first of many rollicking projection sequences by Peter Nigrini consists of Chad's entrance video, a delirious montage of muscles, bling, and shapely models, all designed to make Chad seem unattainably glamorous.
Mace puts up with a lot in his job. For one thing, his real name, Macedonio Guerra, is out. "That other name is too hard to pronounce," says Everett K. Olson, or EKO, THE Wrestling's chief mogul. "For white people," Mace counters. "I can't pronounce it," says Chad, who is black. "For non-Spanish-speaking Americans," insists Mace, getting nowhere. Still, he sees himself as indispensable - after all, Chad Deity has to beat somebody. And, as he points out, "Wrestling is the most profound expression of the ideals of the United States." But he unwittingly destabilizes the entire wrestling universe when he discovers Vigneshwar Paduar, or VP, a crazy, hip-hop Indian guy who plays basketball like a dream, scores with the ladies, and talks a blue streak. ("Motherf-----, you step on my sneakers again, and I will f-your ass up," he says to a street-corner nemesis. "Me and my whole country got the capabilities. Long-range nuclear missile status doggy. We the new superpower.")
VP might have a star personality, but he's not much of a wrestler. Still, EKO, ever ready to manipulate mob sentiment for better ratings, reinvents VP as The Fundamentalist, with Mace as his Mexican sidekick, Che Chavez Castro. (Che apparently represents a new axis of evil, in partnership with Russia and France.) In a universe where shamelessness knows no bounds, Mace ends up dressed in a sombrero, accessorized with shoulder straps loaded with bullets. The fact that he looks like a refugee from the chorus of a musical version of Viva Zapata is beside the point. For weeks, he and VP, in a turban and fake beard, do nothing but glower at the camera, driving the fans into a frenzy.
Then it is discovered that VP has one great move, a knockout kick that EKO instantly names "the sleeper cell." (He tries calling it the "Koran Kabal Kick," but Chad Deity, who is sensitive to such things, wonders if they really want to promote the acronym KKK.) Soon, VP is beating the pants off flag-waving opponents like Billy Heartland, Even Chad Deity is impressed. ("You remind Chad Deity of Chad Deity," he says revealing his supple use of the third person when referring to himself.)
There's no way that this scheme is going to go well, but, before it goes sour, the playwright, Kristoffer Diaz, mercilessly spoofs the way pop culture is used to support the racial/social status quo. His method is fast-paced, profane, and garrulous, composed of run-on sentences that turn street talk into pure adrenalized poetry. The way these characters run on at the mouth, nothing is sacred; even in a farcical melodrama about wrestling, Diaz finds time for a show-stopping gag about Amy Morton's performance in August: Osage County.
Under the galvanic direction of Edward Torres, The Elaborate Entrance... unfolds in a rush of turbocharged monologues, street-smart wisecracks, wickedly satirical video sequences, and furiously staged fight scenes. (The latter are more realistic than anything you'll see on cable television these days.) As Mace, Desmin Borges makes an ideal host and narrator, winning us over and making us care about his increasingly precarious fate. "I work in a subtle business," he mutters as EKO cooks up another video atrocity. Later, when the narrative slips away from him, he asks us, "I should stop attempting to narrate, right?" No he shouldn't; he's making a stunning New York debut.
There's also first-class work from Usman Ally, as VP, especially when he becomes fed up with being used as an all-purpose symbol of anti-Muslim loathing; Terence Archie, oozing self-adoration as Chad (in a moment of candor, he admits his real name is Darnell Deity); and Michael T. Weiss, superbly oily as EKO, chomping on his cigar and plotting his next strategic move. ("Chad Deity's elaborate entrance makes soldiers remember what they're fighting for," he insists, offering one of the non sequiturs on which his career is founded.)
The Elaborate Entrance... practically begs for a knockout production design and that's what it gets here. Brian Sidney Bembridge's set places the action in and around a wrestling ring surround by box truss loaded with lighting gear, the better for Jesse Klug to stun us with color washes, strobe chases, blinder cues, and other in-your-face effects. Nigrini's video sequences include some riotous excerpts from THE Wrestling broadcasts in which The Fundamentalist and Che appear to threaten the American way life, as live IMAG of action in the ring. Mikhail Fiksel's sound design fills out the projections with amusing effects and paces the action with several hip-hop numbers as well as the shamelessly amusing use of "Sweet Home Alabama," and "Born in the U.S.A." Christine Pascual's costumes include any number of outlandish and/or body-hugging wrestling outfits.
It's true that this is something of a one-joke show, and the action climaxes in a rushed manner, with a swift turn towards seriousness that doesn't feel fully earned. But debuts like this don't come along every day.The Elaborate Entry of Chad Deity is loaded with names we're likely to be hearing from again.-- David Barbour

'Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity' mocks bigotry
Jenifer Farrar - May 26, 2010 03:37pm EST - AP

New York - It's no secret that professional wrestling thrives on both fake violence and simplistic character stereotypes. Playwright Kristoffer Diaz gives those themes a thoroughly cynical treatment in his thought-provoking comedy, "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity," now in a colorful, slam-bang production off-Broadway at Second Stage Theatre.
Diaz's idea-filled, talkative play was a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize. A satire on the world of pro wrestling, "Chad Deity" is dripping with ironic zingers about American bigotry, greed and uneducated tastes, and is enlivened with displays of actual wrestling moves, such as the powerbomb and the superkick.
Edward Torres directs the action with flair, using the entire theater for his wrestlers to make grand entrances, with smart video projections showing much of the fighting.
Desmin Borges gives a remarkable, nonstop, fast-talking performance as Mace, a street-wise secondary wrestler, who amusingly tells the story of his career, both narrating and performing his own part. Energetically bounding about, Borges creates a bond with the audience with his ingratiating underdog persona.
Mace seems to accept his place in the hierarchy of his beloved "art form," stating, "When you get really good at the wrestling part of the wrestling business that means you make the other guy in the ring with you look better than he is."
Which is how someone like handsome, muscular fellow wrestler Chad Deity can get all the fame, money and women, even though he's a terrible wrestler. Because, as Mace shrewdly points out, "Being talented really ain't a factor of key importance"
Despite his secret lack of wrestling talent, there's nothing shy or retiring about Deity, because with big personality alone, he rakes in the money for himself and promoter Everett K. Olson. Terence Archie is very funny as Deity, a smug, swaggering but charming performer. Deity always refers to himself in the third person, with comical boasts such as, "Charisma owes Chad money."
Michael T. Weiss is perfectly pompous and blustery as Olson, the cynical bigot who runs mega-entertainment company THE Wrestling. There's nothing too obvious or "cheesy," to do or say, in Olson's mind, if it will make him money and big TV ratings.
He creates appalling racial caricatures for the fans to hate, namely "The Mexican," a part Mace reluctantly accepts, and "The Fundamentalist," a role designed for Mace's Indian friend, VP, that cynically utilizes every simple-minded Middle Eastern cliche available.
Lanky, graceful Usman Ally plays VP as easygoing at first, but soon he's glaring with increasing disgust at Olson's ignorance. Finally, Mace and VP try to twist Olson's insulting stereotypes to say something meaningful about racism and bigotry.
Christian Litke robustly portrays three other wrestlers, on Brian Sidney Bembridge's bright set, a padded wrestling ring surrounded by muralistic symbols of power. For an entertaining yet thoughtful look at the darker side of sport as theater, get in the ring with "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity."

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity Wrestles Its Way Into Town
Pulitzer finalist Kristoffer Diaz's play is a real kick
by Alexis Soloski, Tuesday, May 25 2010

Professional wrestling is fake. It's predictable. It substitutes preset spectacle for actual conflict. Well, so does theater. And Nuyorican wrestler The Mace, the hero of Kristoffer Diaz's body-slamming new play, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, recognizes the parallel: "Don't dismiss my art form on the basis of it being predetermined," he says, "unless you're ready to dismiss ballet for the swan already knowing it's gonna end up dead."
Don't dismiss Diaz, either. His language is overblown, his pop-culture references exhausting, and his comprehensive knowledge of wrestling suggests a wildly misspent youth. But his hyperactive prose dazzles, and there are some very clever ideas—about race, about cultural hegemony, about narrative—nestled just underneath that sparkle.
Set behind the scenes of THE Wrestling Federation, the play—a finalist for this year's Pulitzer—follows The Mace (Desmin Borges) as he discovers an Indian kid from Brooklyn, Vigneshwar Paduar (Usman Ally), and attempts to make him a star. The Mace succeeds, but at some cost. V.P. is newly dubbed "The Fundamentalist" and garbed in a false beard and turban, while The Mace becomes "Che Chávez Castro," a sneering sombrero-clad villain. These are the heels against whom the Federation's all-American star, the immoderately muscled Chad Deity (Terence Archie), must triumph. Can fame and a fat paycheck quiet The Mace's conscience?
Under Edward Torres's exuberant direction, all the actors acquit themselves well, several sporting biceps larger than apartments I've lived in. But Borges—loquacious, mercurial, and likely possessed of some serious ADD—wins the championship belt. Bouncing around the stage in distressingly tight pants, he crams more words into a sentence than one would have believed possible. The program lists Chad Deity as his New York theater debut. How about that? First time in the ring, and the kid knocks everybody out.
In Print May 26-June 1, 2010

Stage Review: The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (2010)
Reviewed by Melissa Rose Bernardo, May 27, 2010
EW's Grade: A-

Even if you think there's nothing entertaining about the WWE, it's impossible not to be swept up in the recent Pulitzer finalist The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, Kristoffer Diaz's ode to headlocks, elbow drops, men in tights, scripted matches with predetermined winners, headline-grabbing characters, and all the other hilarious absurdities of professional wrestling.
Diaz is an admitted wrestle-maniac, as is his loquacious, streetwise narrator, Macedonio Guerra, a.k.a. the Mace (played by the affable Desmin Borges). The slightly pudgy, hangdog-faced Mace is an underpaid, unsung competitor for THE Wrestling (read: WWE). He's "one of the really f---ing good THE wrestlers," he tells us. "The guy who loses to make the winners look good." Enter the overly oiled, excessively muscled, extremely charismatic but astonishingly empty-headed THE champ Chad Deity (Terence Archie), whose supreme ego is outstripped only by his glaring lack of talent. "In wrestling, you can't kick a guy's ass without the help of the guy whose ass you're kicking," Chad Deity explains. And Mace has gotten his ass kicked many, many times by Chad Deity, as evidenced by several - ouch! - limb-popping videos. (Those sequences, plus the clever assorted MTV-style montages accompanying each wrestler's arrival, are courtesy of
Though we do get to see a few body-slamming moves, most of the action takes place outside the ring, as THE honcho Everett K. Olson (Michael T. Weiss) transforms a basketball-playing motormouthed Indian Brooklynite named Vigneshwar Paduar (Usman Ally) into a cave-dwelling, turbaned militant Muslim dubbed the Fundamentalist. And since Mace discovered this new THE star/publicity stunt, he becomes the Fundamentalist's manager/sidekick, "Che Chavez Castro, Mexican revolutionary and denouncer of all things American" - complete with Cuban cigar, sombrero, and bongos. (Mace, it should be said, is a Puerto Rican kid from the Bronx.) Diaz's knowledge of and passion for the "sport" is infectious, and director Edward Torres' hip-hop-infused production is appropriately muscular and high-energy. Words of warning: Keep your feet out of the aisles, lest you trip an actor during an "elaborate entrance." Also, one lucky front-row dweller will probably get bench-pressed. The show sags when Mace steps into the ring, but otherwise, this is one powerbomb of a play.
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Wrestling isn't exactly a subject I'm looking to see a play about. Sure, I watched a little as a kid. Overly muscular men in tight, usually little, clothing wasn't exactly worth passing up, even if I didn't quite understand it at the time. And the dramatic developments were truly ludicrous, which is captured elegantly and held up for its own insanity in Kristoffer Diaz's Pulitzer Prize finalist The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity.
Narrated by the central character, Desmin Borges’s Macedonio "Mace" Guerrero, TEEOCD (for short, that's a long honking title) is filled with the insights of a young man growing up admiring professional wrestling, fully aware of the complex training and Machiavellian coordination that goes into the enterprise. To say the show is well-scripted and insightful would be selling it short, and that whole Pulitzer finalist thing should speak well enough on its own.
Mace tells the tale of his own career as a secondary performer in the THE Wrestling organization, including acting as fall-down fodder for the titular Chad Deity. And yes, his entrance is indeed elaborate and as ridiculous as you'd imagine. Eventually tired of watching a less-talented, but clearly charismatic, wrestler, he ventures to a Brooklyn basketball court to discover a young man primed for his own spotlight, Vigneshwar Paduar, whom Mace brings to the head of the wrestling organization with a bid for stardom.
Up until this point, there have been a host of subtle race-related and social-structure allusions, but by bringing in an Indian man to create a wrestling character, Diaz kicks off his true plot-line: the use of racial stereotyping in the wrestling world is simply an hyperbolic allegory of race relations in America. And he's not wrong. With punching words that sting more than the demonstrated wrestling moves on stage, Diaz's dialogue, driven by Borges, Usman Ally (as Paduar), Terence Archie (as the titular Deity), and Michael T. Weiss (as the THE Wrestling head Everett K. Olson), is full, lush, and perfectly balanced with satire, surrealism, and reality.
I don't want to give away too much of the story, since the developments really work with an element of surprise, and, I presume, gain power upon multiple viewings. But the construction Diaz has built is very much a modern theatrical experience. Much of it is split between Borges's asides to the audience (at least a good third of the show) and usually very rapid dialogue (the other two-thirds). The asides are interesting, at least to me, since they tell not just about feelings, but about expectations. Diaz does a wonderful job avoiding typical exposition, leaving the dialogue & stage action to cover his points and notes for the audience. And the dénouement, while somewhat harrowing, never feels too preachy.
And the dialogue. Suffice it to say there is something of a treatise on raisin bread that is both powerful, moving, and hilarious it isn’t hard to see the accolades of the play pilling up. And Diaz tosses in a great joke about the cultural tastes of a professional wrestler that will make any theatre fan laugh rather loudly. There's the blazing speed of Ally's deliver, perfectly attuned to the character's believability. There's healthy interplay between all of the characters, with Archie's Deity's ultimate anger at Ally's Paduar's riding star building both believably, and in true wrestling form, takes on a delivery of sublime ridiculousness. All I'll say is there is a great use of a refrigerator's crisper as a metaphor. At least the audience should think of it as a metaphor.
The performances are uniformly strong, led rather distinctively by Borges. He conveys what I assume to be Diaz's wish-fulfillment as a character, the love of a profession so ludicrous he doesn't care. He not only delivers the excellent writing well, but does it with distinction and with actual wrestling moves. It’s a great performance, and if the rumors of transfer to Broadway are true, one that easily deserves a Tony nomination. Easily. Ally’s performance is so much of a caricature, but he does it quite well. There are bits of him sprouting off that are really great, and his moment in the wrestling ring is quite priceless. Archie's got two of the best speeches and a truly elaborate entrance, and executes all of it with aplomb. Weiss's role isn't exactly enjoyable, but he does enough to make it work.
The production of TEEOCD (that name really is a problem, but that’s the point) is equally well-done. There's a very fun stage setup, complete with wrestling ring, and the play uses the full theatre, much like wrestling does, to captivate and engage the audience. There's live camera work, running up and down the aisles, and, yes, very elaborate entrances. I did mention this was a modern piece, right? It is very much not a stage row removed from the audience, and it likes it that way. And so do we. Director Edward Torres, who brought the production from Chicago, has done an overall excellent job in breathing life into Diaz's already stellar piece.
This production of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity is a limited run, but I'm expecting that it will be in an open run on Broadway very soon. To paraphrase Borges' Mace, it's about community, and Kristoffer Diaz's play makes it happen.
June 3, 2010

NY1 Theater Review & Clip: "The Elaborate Entrance Of Chad Deity"
by Roma Torre
A finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Kristoffer Diaz's "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity" is currently playing off-Broadway at Second Stage Theater. NY1's Roma Torre has a review.
.... If all of this seems culturally offensive it's intended. That's the point and it scores, thanks in large part to Edward Torres's seamlessly taut direction and superb production values featuring clever visuals and authentic fight choreography. The entire show is hyper paced as if on steroids and it feels both exhilarating and exhausting. Only at the end does it lose momentum when it seems to run low on creative energy. But until then, "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity" is quite a winner.
For the full review and the video clip from the play, click on NY1 Theater Review.

The opening night after party was held in the private rooms of HB Burger at 127 W. 43rd St.

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In this video from all actors and writer Kristoffer Diaz talk about the play, the production and the fun of working with each other. And it features excerpts from the play, so Everett K. Olsen has the final word!

Photos from the production

6-21-10: Strange, that none of the reviews, whether professional or from fans has mentioned the final moments of the play. So, since it has closed yesterday, here you go thanks to CMEW:
Mace finally cracks, has some words and then gets violent and knocks out Chad Deity, The Fundamentalist and poor EKO. Hits him with a right jab to the face, then a left one and down goes Michael flat on his back out cold. Lays there for several minutes, Chad is lying in the aisle of the audience and Mace continues on with his dialog. Everyone comes to, gets up, all have some lines and it's sort of the end .... 
Perhaps now after the end of the run, everyone heads for the Chiropractor.