‘Cebollas’, To Die For, At DCPA Thru March 17th, LLD Review

By Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media

The laughs just keep rollin in, in this instantly popular, far fetched world premiere production about three Latina sisters who embark on a road trip from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Denver, Colorado with a dead body in the backseat who just happens to be a married man who was having an affair with one of the now pregnant sisters.

The goal is to get the man’s body back to his Wash Park home in Denver before his wife comes home from her night job. That way she will think her husband passed away at home and the sisters will be free of what could be a very embarrassing predicament.


YOLIE (Jamie Ann Romero) is the youngest and a very pregnant throughout this play. Like…super pregnant. CELIA (Xochitl Romero) is the middle child. Older than Yolie by at least six years. A nurse, who really cares about people and not just a career. TERE (Zuleyma Guevara) is the eldest and the most grounded of the group. Oh yea, the dead cheating husband is played by a very likeable mannequin.

Along the way, as they travel up I-25 past the familiar landmarks of Santa Fe, Huerfano, Pueblo, Colorado Springs, and Castle Rock, the poke fun at the various landmarks along the way. “Why is it called Castle Rock, It really doesn’t look like a castle, it just looks like a rock,” quips one of the sisters. The visuals are provided via a video screen behind a chevy convertible that serves as the main prop for most of the production.


To pass the time, on what seems like a never ending road trip, the sisters peel back the layers of their relationships. Like an onion, cebolla (se-bo-ya) in Spanish, they reflect on shared family history.

Slowly but surely, the layers are peeled back to the core, until one revelation threatens to destroy the root of their relationship. Their bickering, laughter, singing, and discoveries will fundamentally change their relationship.

While some of the slap stick humor of Cebollas reminded me of a Carol Burnett episode, for those who can remember that far back, I found it to be more like National Lampoon’s “Vacation” when Clark Griswold finds that his Aunt Edna has died in her sleep. Not to let her passing ruin their family bonding road trip to, they tie Aunt Edna’s corpse to the roof of the car, wrapped in a tarpaulin and continue on their way to Wally World. Cebollas is just as funny if not more so.


Citing the Denver Center Theatre Company productions of Laughs in Spanish (2023), American Mariachi (2018), FADE (2016, which he directed) and others, ‘Cebollas’ Director, Jerry Ruiz, said the Denver Center “has a pretty good track record of producing Latina and Latino playwrights and other playwrights of color…. They feel that mission to represent different facets of the community.”

Cebollas is directed by Jerry Ruiz and written by New Mexican theatre playwright, Leonard Madrid. Madrid talks about the journey he has taken in making Cebollas a reality.

The fact that Cebollas rose through the process of the New Play Summit is a sign of that commitment to keeping the pipeline fresh and inviting in new playwright voices. Since it began 18 years ago, the Summit development process has introduced 68 new plays, more than half of which were picked up as full Theatre Company productions.

“To see a play go from being read for the first time at the [Summit] to a full production two years later, that’s actually a quick turnaround in the life cycle of plays in the American theater,” Ruiz said. More typically he has worked on plays for six or seven years before they were produced.

Cebollas is currently playing the Singleton Theatre at the Denver Center for the Performing arts through March 17, 2024. An extra week has been added due to popular demand. Run time is one hour and twenty minutes with no intermission.


Advisory: This production includes:

  • Death as context for situational comedy
  • Gambling
  • Adult and Sexualized Language