A Rivera Runs Through It

Photo by Erik J. Goodrich

René Rivera as Pablo in the World Premiere of The King of the Desert (El Rey del Desierto)

Dreams are like flowers growing up through the cracks of a sidewalk – once they’ve taken root, they’re hard to kill even in the harshest environments. For a young boy growing up in a barrio near San Antonio, Texas, becoming a successful actor might have seemed like a lottery shot. But from early on, René Rivera knew he had to find a way to express himself.

His parents were second-generation Mexican-Americans with an unhappy marriage. “There was a lot of bickering and fighting,” says Rivera, “And that lack of communication and affection filtered down to us kids.” He loved reading and writing poetry, but when he walked into his high school drama teacher’s office, he didn’t even know what acting was. “I just told him I wanted to do what they do in the movies,” Rivera laughs.

Rivera found his calling on stage and his dreams took off, through the prestigious Julliard School, and on to Broadway and into the movies. The story of that journey comes to the stage in a one-man show called The King of The Desert (El Rey del Desierto), written by his wife, Stacey Martino, and directed by Valentino Ferreira. All three are members of the venerable Actors Studio. His parents are proud of their son’s success over the years, and eventually they even become “gentle friends” with each other, as Rivera lovingly puts it.

The play opens on Cinco de Mayo, but more than just a tribute to his ethnic roots, “It’s a tribute to parents everywhere.”

The King of the Desert (El Rey del Desierto) opens at The Chaplin Stage at the El Centro Theatre; 804 N. El Centro Avenue (between Gower Street and Vine Street, just north of Melrose Avenue); Hollywood, CA 90038 on Wednesday, May 5th. Thereafter, performances will be given on Thursdays and Fridays, May 6 – June 11, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. Ten percent of the proceeds from the run of the show will benefit The National Latino Children’s Institute headquartered in San Antonio, TX. Tickets are $15.00 each for General Admission. Tickets for Students, Seniors and Guild Members are $10 each. For reservations and further information please call the Box Office at 323-960-5774 or buy online at www.plays411.com/kingofthedesert.

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