Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Tale Straight Outta Brooklyn in 'Brownsville Bred'

Elaine Del Valle uses song, dance and humor to help tell her story in "Brownsville Bred." Photos by Ron Marotta.


ELAINE Del Valle,
a kind of female John Leguizamo, tells her personal history with sincerity and gusto.

The Latina from Brownsville, Brooklyn doesn’t have JL’s edge or anger, but she matches his captivating energy and exuberant charisma. In “Brownsville Bred,” at 59E59 Theaters through 31 July, EDV generously shares her life in a frank and moving narrative. As she recounts the disquieting story of her childhood in the 1980s in one of New York’s notoriously dangerous neighborhoods, EDV presents a portrait of a girl full of savvy innocence and wonder.

“Brownsville Bred” was developed by EDV with Wynn Handman, artistic director of The American Place Theatre, as part of the One Act Festival in NYC. It grew out of EDV's solo show at the Nuyorican Poets Café and expanded into a full evening program when it played in Los Angeles. It moved from L.A. to Westchester’s The Schoolhouse Theater under the direction of Pamela Moller Kareman who brings it to its off-Broadway run.

Elaine Del Valle grew up in tough circumstances but maintained an optimistic outlook about which she reminisces in "Brownsville Bred."

Her mother, EDV says, “always found ways to be happy” and it seems that that good nature passed on to her daughter. EDV relates some very distressing incidents without asking for sympathy, although her stories might elicit a few tears. Because she can see the bright side of things, “Brownsville Bred” is unexpectedly funny and entertaining.

EDV raps, sings, dances and impersonates the characters in her lifestory. There are tragedies in the telling, but also plenty of inspiration and fun. Her warmth, wit and intelligence are as fetching as her looks.

Elaine Del Valle takes a breathtaking journey down memory lane in "Brownsville Bred."

The performer emerged from poverty and family tragedy to act in films, including “Donnie Brasco,” “Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight” and “Undercover Dora” from the “Dora the Explorer” series. Brownsville may have bred her, but EDV is an impressively self-made star doing a turn in a gutsy, compelling and original must-see show.

Visit to learn more about “Brownsville Bred.”

Elaine Del Valle & Friends Post-Mortem

TALK-BACKS offers a chance to join rising star Elaine Del Valle for a discussion after the final two Sunday performances of “Brownsville Bred” at 59E59 Theaters. After tomorrow’s performance of her one-woman show, EDV and playwright Candido Tirado (“Celia: The Life and Music of Celia Cruz” will lead the conversation. On Sunday, 31 July, she and Daniel Gallant, executive director of Nuyorican Poets Café, will offer an after-performance perspective on “Brownsville Bred.”

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