Steve Saldivar

Cultural Journalist interested in Place, Race, & Ideas

Spanish Wizard of Oz Production Finds a Home in East L.A.

We're not in Kansas anymore.

I saw the Wizard of Oz play in a Mexican restaurant in East L.A. It's as great as it sounds. 

Inside El Mercadito, the sounds of trumpets from mariachi can be heard, an unlikely soundtrack to El Mago de Oz, a play taking place by director Felipe Cortes. 

The Wizard of Oz takes on a different interpretation when a mostly Spanish-speaking immigrant audience watches a production about taking the yellow brick road to something great, ultimately wanting to return home. 

From Here to La Bamba

Music knows no boundaries. 

From Mexico to Austrialia and, yes, East L.A. musicians collaborated on an international rendition of La Bamba. 

Among the many artists, viewers will find Eastsider favorites Los Lobos and La Marisoul from La Santa Cecilia on the track. 

There is perhaps no more fitting a song than La Bamba. Originating in Veracruz, the Mexican folksong would find new listeners when Los Angeles rockstar Ritchie Valens covered it in 1958 (and rediscovered to younger audiences in 1987 when Lou Diamond Phillips played the role of Valens.) 

The video was produced by Playing for Change, a non-profit organization focusing on building music and art schools.