image004In association with its mission to present new voices from inadequately represented communities, Halcyon Theatre will host a one-night-only post-show discussion immediately following the 8p.m. performance of Estrella Cruz [the junkyard queen] Friday, February 19. The panel will address social issues facing young Latina women as reflected inEstrella Cruz, including young motherhood. The expert panel features Maureen Mena, Association of Latino Professionals for America board member; Tamika Lecheé Morales,Halcyon Theatre company member (and Estrella Cruz cast member); and Yesenia Villaseñor, Assistant General Counsel at Exelon Corporation. Open to all theatre patrons.The Chicago premiere of Estrella Cruz [the junkyard queen] by Charise Castro Smith is a contemporary satirical twist on the classic Greek myth of Persephone and her journey to the underworld. Directed by Halcyon Artistic Director Tony Adams, in addition to Tamika Lecheé Morales, the cast of Estrella Cruz features Johnny Garcia, Robert N. Isaac, Noe Jara, Kelly Opalko, and Allyce Torres.

Estrella Cruz (Allyce Torres), the modern Persephone, is the beautiful yet naive daughter of Aurelia, “the most beautiful inventor in all of HERE” (Tamika Lecheé Morales). Whisked away to “The Junkyard” by Pablo the Junker, the lord of the underworld (Robert N. Isaac), Estrella swiftly falls in love and takes up residence in the underworld. Absurdity ensues as a pregnant Estrella ignores her mother’s increasingly frantic voice mail messages and eats the underworld into oblivion, all the while confiding in her imaginary friend, Bette Davis (Kelly Opalko), to talk her through the turmoil. Video projections and mock television commercials add a surreal visual touch to the proceedings.

Estrella Cruz [the junkyard queen] runs through February 27 at Halcyon Theatre, in residence at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, 3253 W. Wilson Avenue. Run-time is approx. 80 minutes and tickets are $20 for guaranteed advance admission or at no-cost through the Radical Hospitality program. Visit halcyontheatre.org/estrellacruz or call 773-413-0454.


Maureen Mena is a wealth advisor with LPL Financial and has been in the financial services industry since 2004. She began her career soon after graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in Finance and Economics. She also majored in Spanish and is bilingual. Maureen prides herself on helping families and business owners to pursue financial freedom and to protect themselves against the financial impact of the unexpected. She endeavors to become a personal lifetime resource for each and every client. Maureen is registered through LPL Financial to offer mutual funds and variable annuities. She received the Life Underwriter Training Council Fellowship (LUTCF) credential from the American College and is a member of the National Association of Insurance & Financial Advisors (NAIFA). Maureen currently serves on the board of the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA) as the Vice President of the Women of ALPFA. In this role, Maureen hosts and creates professional events that are designed to provide professional Latinas with the tools and the roadmap to strengthen their leadership and management skills, while fostering both their professional and personal development. She has brought high profile Chicago women leaders, to speak at these events that have provided great insight on professional development. Maureen is also involved in many other Latino & women’s organizations in the Chicago land area. Maureen lives in the southwest suburbs of Chicago with her husband, Jose and her son, Ariel. Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC.

Tamika Lecheé Morales is a very proud Puerto Rican! Three adjectives to describe her are passionate, relentless and raw. Currently, what excites her most is discovering her talent as a playwright through her own personal story titled, The Nuyorican, where she recounts her struggles growing up with her eccentric Abuela in the projects of Coney Island determined to change her socio-economic status despite all odds and become the woman she is meant to be. In addition to her current role in Estrella Cruz, she has appeared in the Chicago Premiere of Julia de Burgos: Child of Water at UrbanTheater Company where she played Julia de Burgos’ Soul, one of her favorite roles to date. Morales is a proud company member of both Halcyon Theatre and UrbanTheater Company and loves working on her playwriting skills through the Victory Gardens Access Program because all of these outlets give her the opportunity to grow as an artist to make her dreams into a reality.

Yesenia Villaseñor is a mother, world-traveler and an advocate for judicial, ethnic and socio-economic justice. Her accomplishments range from achieving asylum relief for a tortured West African political refugee to assisting Central American children facing deportation. Villaseñor is currently an Assistant General Counsel with Exelon Corporation and was formerly an Environmental, Health & Safety attorney at Drinker Biddle & Reath. Villaseñor graduated from Chicago-Kent Law School and earned her MS in Environmental Management from the Stuart School of Business. She serves as a volunteer and pro-bono attorney for organization including the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois and Heartland Alliance National Immigrant Justice Center. She has served on the board of the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois (HLAI) as well as co-chaired the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois’ JD Mentors Program. She has received numerous recognitions for her pro bono work including a 2010 award for Excellence in Pro Bono from the Northern District of Illinois and the Chicago Chapter of the Federal Bar Association in a child abduction case under The Hague Convention. The first female to serve in the capacity as legal advisor to the Illinois State Chapter of The League of United Latin American Citizens, Villaseñor participated most recently in a trip to Cuba with the Council on Latin American Relations and the Illinois Latino Judges Association to research the Cuban legal system. As of late, Villaseñor has taken on another role as a talk show host for a sustainability pilot produced by Mainstream Media Inc.

About Halcyon

Halcyon Theatre is fiercely committed to making the stage as diverse as the city of Chicago. Dedicated to presenting new voices from inadequately represented communities, Halcyon works to recast classic works in order to showcase contemporary relevance.

Based in the Albany Park neighborhood, Halcyon Theatre was formed in 2006 to connect people, transform borders and ascend toward a more just union. The theatre’s artistic philosophy is driven by the continuing belief that at every point of human history where there has been an explosion of artistic creativity, it has happened when different cultures and traditions have met and learned from each other. Halcyon’s work includes productions as well as providing platforms—including Compass Lab as well as writing workshops & new play labs—for artists to grow and reach their full potential.

For more information visit www.halcyontheatre.org.