Theatre West presents the world premiere of Our Man in Santiago, written by two-time Emmy nominee and WGA award-winner Mark Wilding (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Good Girls, Charmed) and directed by Charlie Mount. Originally scheduled to debut 18 months ago but canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Our Man in Santiago will finally open on Sept. 24 for a five-week run through Oct. 24.
A raucous comedy spy thriller, Our Man in Santiago was inspired by the true story of a spectacularly botched U.S. attempt to overthrow Chile’s democratically elected leader.
On Sept. 4, 1970, socialist politician and physician Salvador Allende was elected president of Chile. According to a 1974 article in Harper’s Magazine penned by Gabriela García Marquez, a contingency plan had been hatched by the Nixon administration and the Chilean military in preparation for just such an event — but the coup they intended had to be aborted when “someone made a mistake in the Pentagon and requested 200 visas for a purported Navy chorus, which in reality was to be made up of specialists in government overthrow; however there were several admirals among them who couldn’t sing a single note.”
Inspired by this ridiculous failure, Wilding has penned a farce in which the CIA enlists an inexperienced, unsuspecting agent to follow up with a poorly conceived and wildly dangerous effort to hasten what was to be, in the end, a successful coup d'état in Chile three years later, in 1973.
According to Mount, “It’s about consequentialism. In politics, do the ends justify the means? Is it okay to break the law if it’s for the good of the country? Does assuming the moral imperative make it okay to do something wrong? Sound familiar? It’s set in 1973 Chile, but it could just as well be set in Vietnam or Cambodia, or today in Iran.”
“The idea for this play has been percolating in the back of my mind ever since I read Marquez’s article,” says Wilding. “At the time, I was still in high school, but I made a copy and have held onto it ever since. It was such a loony, misguided venture. About three years ago, I workshopped the play at Theatre West, and the reaction was amazing — everybody thought it was so much fun.”
Our Man in Santiago features Presciliana Esparolini, Nick McDow Musleh and George Tovar, with Steve Nevil playing Richard Nixon and Michael Van Duzer as Henry Kissinger.
The creative team includes set designer Jeff G. Rack, lighting designer Yancey Dunham, costume designer Mylette Nora, fight director Joe Nassi and gun captain Bruce Dickinson. David Mingrino is the production stage manager, and Chloe Rosenthal assistant directs. Benjamin Scuglia produces for Theatre West.
Complimentary tickets will be made available opening weekend (Sept. 24, Sept, 25 and Sept. 26) to first responders, teachers and healthcare workers in gratitude for their work during these challenging times. For more information, call (323) 851-4839.
Our Man in Santiago runs from Sept. 24 through Oct. 24, with performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Ticket prices range from $15-$30. Theatre West is located at 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West in Los Angeles, CA 90068 (across the street from Universal CityWalk, between Barham and Lankershim); metered street parking available, and there is a paid lot ($5 cash only) across the street from the theater. For reservations and information, go to TheatreWest.org.
Proof of vaccination will be required of all patrons, and admittance is limited to ages 12+. All current CDC and local guidelines regarding seating and masks will be followed at each performance.