A forgotten piece of Chicago history comes to life this spring in La Havana Madrid.
“In my memory, there was never a Latinx presence in the neighborhood,” playwright and actress Sandra Delgado says of the Lakeview she wandered through as a child in the ’80s. But in the ’60s, La Havana Madrid, a bustling nightclub and cultural hub for the area’s many Hispanic immigrants, stood at the corner of Belmont and Sheffield avenues. It’s the story of the club, and the people who frequented it, that Delgado reimagines in her play La Havana Madrid at The Den Theatre this spring.
After nearly sold-out runs at Goodman Theatre and Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre, La Havana Madrid’s success has shown that the production is worth the pains that came with developing it. “I became obsessed with the idea of writing a play about this place that I couldn’t find any information on,” she says. “Then it became a mission. I had to tell this story because there was major erasure.” Her research got personal fast; Delgado’s first talent agent happened to have been crowned queen of the first Puerto Rican Day parade in 1966, and her story became the basis for a character in the show.
A co-production between Teatro Vista and Collaboraction, La Havana Madrid invites audiences to become a part of the club, with cabaret seating and music from legendary Colombian-American group Carpacho y Su Super Combo. Still, Delgado—who also stars in the show—wants to take the production to the next level. “I think we can really push the magic more,” she says. “I don’t want to call it a show—the experience begins the second you walk in that door.” May 11-June 22, tickets $30-$55, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave.