NEW YORK (AP) — Angelica Vale is getting steamy onstage. She puts her hands to her neck, twisting and moaning, before bursting into an orgasm that seems to leave her exhausted and completely happy.
Her expression changes when she realizes that her mother, the actress Angelica Maria, dubbed "Mexico's Sweetheart," is looking at her poker-faced. But Angelica Maria soon has the audience roaring with laughter: "Just like her mother!" she says.
The scene is part of "Los monologos de la vagina" ("The Vagina Monologues"), which marks the first time an off-Broadway theater has hosted an ongoing run of a commercial Spanish language play. It is directed by Mexican Jaime Matarredona with a trio of Mexican stars that also includes Kate del Castillo.
Its producers hope it's not the last such experiment.
"I think it sets a precedent to produce plays in Spanish and recognize that there is an interest and a market for a Spanish production in the U.S.," producer Federico Gonzalez Compean said. "This experience very likely will make us keep exploring — there's nothing concrete — but is something that we should keep on doing."
Created by Eve Ensler in 1996 after interviewing 200 women about their sexual experiences, the play is filled with humor but also sends a strong message of respect and awareness about violence toward women. Its monologues address topics from menstruation and maternity to masturbation and orgasm, as well as topics like rape and female genital mutilation.
"It is a beautiful tribute to women, it's done with very good taste," said Vale, a Mexican telenovela star better known for her role in "Letty la fea," the Mexican version of "Ugly Betty." ''There's a lot of laughter, but always with a beautiful message at the end of the play".
Vale, with her natural spark and talent for comedy, triggers the most laughter with monologues like the one that features an orgasm — done these days while the actress is six months pregnant — but also provides one of the most heart-rending moments with one about war rape, "My Vagina Was My Village."
Each of the actresses offers something different, and together they create a dynamic experience, full of camaraderie. The relationship between mother and daughter onstage is inevitably touching, especially with Vale expecting a baby.
"For me, working with my mom is the best, not only because she's my mom, but because she is a great goddess and a wonderful actress from which I never stop learning," said Vale.
"Working with my daughter has always been wonderful," said Angelica Maria. "I adore her, I admire her, I love her... We always get on well, even onstage."
The beloved veteran actress narrates the monologue "The Flood," inspired in the memories of an elderly woman, and movingly interprets the story of a girl raped by a friend of her family.
To del Castillo, "The Vagina Monologues" are "sadly contemporary."
"It's terrible, the monologues, all that they speak about, this violence against women, this abuse, and things haven't changed," she said recently in Mexico City.
The actress, who reads stories called "My Angry Vagina," ''Hair" and "The Vagina Workshop," added that "there's no way you will not identify with one of the characters."
"Los monologos de la vagina" is being staged at the Westside Theatre, which was the New York home of the original production from 1999 to 2003.
Maria, Vale and del Castillo will appear until June 1. On June 3, when the theater will start offering simultaneous translation to English, veteran Broadway actress Daphne Rubin-Vega, Argentine Maria Cellario and Dominican Flor de Liz Perez will take over.
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AP writer Berenice Bautista in Mexico City contributed to this report.