Miami in Moscow — “ROOF!” highlights diversity, love and forgiveness


The University of Idaho Theatre Arts Department will present “ROOF!” this week at the Hartung Theatre, opening doors for conversations about issues people sometimes avoid.

“It’s a very diverse piece that’s to celebrate our diversity as people and people of color,” said Ricky Martinez, the guest artist who wrote and is directing the play.

Katie Piper | Argonaut
Tanner Collier, Cesar Garcia, Tiffany Diaz and Hiko Addison rehearse for “ROOF!” Saturday at the Hartung Theatre.

The play will open at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 13 and the last showing will be at 2 p.m. Oct. 22.

Martinez is an award-wining director, playwright and actor greatly celebrated in his hometown. “ROOF!” is set in Miami, Florida, where Martinez is from. Martinez said the play is a tribute to his city and the people of Miami.

He said “ROOF!” was very personal to him, as the house the story takes place in was based on his house and the characters are people he knows well.

Martinez said audience members, especially college students, can identify with and connect with the characters easily.

The story is set at a Bohemian rooftop barbeque party and centers around a photographer named Vic (Cesar Reyes), and his friends: a sculptor, an actress, a filmmaker and a drag queen.

Reyes said the characters are close friends that are like a family, but a catastrophic incident causes these friends to drift apart.

“Vic has a secret that he is afraid to tell his friends because he thinks that it will change their relationship,” Reyes said. “And I think as people, we often have those secrets that we’re afraid to tell others because we want them to accept us.”

Stage manager Taylor Caldwell said as chaos ensues, that single incident significantly alters the lives of the characters. Caldwell said the nature of the incident will only be revealed at the opening of the play. It’s a mystery play, she said.

Martinez said the first act of the play is lighter and filled with laughter. The second act takes place five years after that catastrophic incident and shows where the group stands as friends and how the city has changed.

“The audience can expect a party — they probably want to jump on stage and party with the actors. They can expect to cry, to be moved, to laugh and they can expect see a part of themselves on stage,” Martinez said.

Caldwell said the entire play showcases Miami culture with characters from the city. It also utilizes a dialect and language common to the Florida city.

“They’re going to get a taste of what east-coasters are all about,” Martinez said. “It’s hot, sexy, fun and wild.”

Martinez said “ROOF!” is about friendships, acceptance, forgiveness, bonding and love with a bit of gentrification, diversity and LGBTQ-related issues.

“With everything that’s going on in the world this is like a great piece that has us question what unity is and if we align ourselves together, we’d be much better, stronger people,” Martinez said.

Caldwell said she hopes the play will let people in Moscow experience what life in other parts of the country can be like.

“I think it (will) change some people’s mindset and make them more aware of the kinds of people out there in the world,” Caldwell said.

May Ng can be reached

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