By Victor Payan
San Diego-born playwright Richard Montoya has been on a prolific hot streak for the past several years. His expert mix of weight and whimsy have made him a favorite of local audiences, and his latest play, Federal Jazz Project, is yet another winner. A collaboration with local jazz master Gilbert Castellanos, Federal Jazz Project delivers a verbal and musical tour de force that digs into the dark underbelly of World War II-era San Diego and provides a fascinating history tour of America’s Finest City.
Fans of local lore and lovers of great jazz should rush out to see Federal Jazz Project before it concludes its World Premiere run at the San Diego Repertory Theatre this Sunday at 2pm.
Federal Jazz Project shines on many levels and features some brilliant writing by Montoya. Stellar live music by a Castellanos-led jazz quintet and strong performances by a capable cast round out the story of Kidd (Joe Hernandez-Kolski), an idealistic impresario, whose hopes of launching the careers of two singing and dancing sisters named San Diego and Tijuana, played Lorraine Castellanos and Claudia Gomez, are thwarted by the guardians of San Diego’s military-industrial complex.