By W. BRIAN MOORE        
April 2007        


Multiple award-winning artist and Comedy Central starJade Esteban Estrada, once again hit the stage in Corpus Christi performing “Tortilla Heaven,” winner of the 2004 Literary Award for Best Play, as a fundraiser for Grace Church.

The play is a funny yet real story of Mexicans from three generations and their interactions with each other set in San Antonio, Texas. Not only is the play itself about family, but was written by Jade’s sister, Celeste Angela Estrada, and directed by his brother, David Miguel Estrada. It has been called “a story of life, love, and making tortillas the American way.”

Tortilla Heaven” consists of each of these three generations of the Ruiz family and friends—the eldest living a simple life, the second, abandoning their parents generation in order to become city slickers and the third trying to understand and put it all together without knowing the language of their people or traditions of the elder generation. As you can imagine this brings an extremely comedic view of the different generations, some who speak Spanish only to the younger generation of English speakers trying to understand the their elders. Like all families, it shows its differences, their likes and dislikes, but with the understanding that family will always be there for you.

Tortilla Heaven” consists of seven different characters, each portrayed brilliantly by Jade. The characters are: a flight attendant; Charles Ruiz; Vera Mae Ruiz (his mother); Abuelita (his grandmother); Riche Ruiz (his uncle); Nena, and Mrs. Villalobos. Unlike his "ICONS" shows, instead of changing from one character to another to portray each one, he plays all characters in “Tortilla Heaven” changing during the show to show each one, while continuing to play the other characters. He does so with such ease and believability that his transition into these characters only pulls you closer into the show as you see each character portrayed.


Jade Esteban Estrada


The monologue at the end, done by the character Charles is one of the best and most poignant realities that many within the Mexican community face, that of finding those who have taken care of them all their lives, supported their dreams, accepted their differences and loved through them. Charles monologue tells the story that is so prevalent within the Mexican community, one of being left behind by a mother, raised by a grandmother, yet proving to be successful because of the wonderful love they truly received at home.

Having grown up in the Corpus Christi, Texas area, I have had the good fortune to know and befriend many people who are Mexicans. Jade's portrayal of the different characters from each generation is so true to life it is amazing. I could relate to each character having known someone personally in my life who the character seemed to exemplify. The love shown between the grandmother and grandson, Charles, is realistic beyond measure. Having known many grandchildren who have grown up in their grandmother’s homes in the Mexican community, you can see that love of “la familia” (the family), always abounding within their homes.

Ralph Gomez, one of those who attended the show said, “When Jade is on stage it's like he disappears and all these other people appear. The characters he portrayed were so real and believable that forgot I was watching a one-man show. As I looked around at the audience, I knew I was not the only one getting into the characters. Many there as myself were on the edge of their seats laughing, clapping and just having a great time. And then too soon it was over, but not before Jade received a long standing ovation. We hope he comes back soon.”

Once again I have to commend Jade for all the work he does for our community, those with HIV/AIDS, and especially for coming and supporting our new church here in Corpus. Mother Teresa said, “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.” While I believe what Jade does are great things, because of his selflessness and wanting to get out, educate, as well as help provide financial help through his fundraisers, he is definitely doing all of that with “great love.”

The show was such a great success it will return to Corpus Christi on October 6, 2007, in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. Please check out Jade’s web site at GetJaded.com for all shows and information regarding when he will be in a location near you. You definitely will enjoy any and all the shows he does and you will leave not only entertained, but having helped one of the nation’s newest and brightest stars in the gay and lesbian community.


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