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n “Peter Jensen. Hands. Down. He has taught me every single (good) thing I know. He has this way of guiding you toward discovery, on your own. I’ve learned so much and I’m so thankful he gave me the chance to play Veronica.” -Viviana Valeria

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THE MOTHERF**KER WITH THE HAT Reviews, Articles, Features are up!!

BlogCritics Theater Review (NYC): ‘The Motherf**cker with the Hat’ by Stephen Adly Guirgis

If the fresh new off-off-Broadway revival of Stephen Adly Guirgis’s The Motherf**cker with the Hat means to play off the Off-Broadway success in 2014-15 of Guirgis’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Between Riverside and Crazy and the buzz about his new Netflix series with Baz Luhrmann, The Get Down, then more power to it.

The play debuted on Broadway in 2011 starring Chris Rock and Bobby Cannavale. It’s a darn good script. Now, without a big-name cast or a big space, director Peter Jensen, Artistic Director of the T. Schreiber Studio & Theatre, and a top-notch creative team have crafted a compelling production blessed with an equally top-drawer cast.

Omar Bustamante and Viviana Valeria in ‘The Motherf**cker with the Hat,’ photo by Ryan Camarena

The play is a dark, funny, profane journey into the lives of a set of New York City Latinos afflicted with drug and alcohol addictions but trying to give their better natures a chance. The story arc begins at a high point, with the play’s most hopeful scene. Jackie (Omar Bustamante) comes home to his girlfriend Veronica (Viviana Valeria) in buoyant spirits: On parole after two years in an upstate prison for drug dealing, he has just scored a promising porter job at an apartment building. Meanwhile Veronica has been on the phone with her mother, her side of the hilarious conversation showing us that addiction and bad choices run in her family.

Then, amid the humor and the fresh joy, a sudden reversal of mood comes as a shock. And we’re off to the dangerous races.

The cast handles Guirgis’s script, a mix of boiling profanity and elevated language, with remarkable naturalism. Jackie’s AA sponsor, the 41-year-old Ralph (Casey Braxton), is a fascinating character prone to flowery speech. Many years sober, and a seeming paragon of healthy living, this yoga-pushing, juice-mixing New Age bro still has one foot in the street, enabling him to connect with a younger, still-troubled man like Jackie. And he has apparently helped Jackie immensely. But Ralph’s smooth, cocky attitude – “I might be an asshole, but I’m fucking limber, yo!” – hides a nihilistic philosophy of life, a deadly coping method that has deadened his relationship with his wife Victoria (Jill Bianchini) and undercut a good deal more than that, too.

Broadway stages have technology and infrastructure for rapid and thorough set changes. This tiny theater lacks all that, yet scenic designer Miguel Urbino gives us a marvel of speedy changes to help pace the story’s shifts among its settings. In Veronica and Jackie’s apartment, Jackie discovers the evidence that sets the plot in motion. Ralph and Victoria’s place is decorated to reflect Ralph’s personality perfectly. And Jackie takes refuge in the apartment of his cousin Julio (Robby Ramos), another wonderful creation, a happily married, spirulina-serving “mariconcito” in his own words – “a mary jane, a patsy” – who has his cousin’s back through a fraught relationship that goes back, like Jackie and Veronica’s, to middle school.

Ramos makes captivating a scene where Julio unloads his festering grievances on his irresponsible relation, culminating bitterly: “It was a long time ago, and it was yesterday.” Bianchini makes wrenching a scene where Victoria, clad in leopard pants, reveals to Jackie the emptiness of her marriage. Valeria brilliantly channels Veronica’s spitfire anger into a fully rounded character we fall for more deeply with every curse out of her mouth.

And Jackie and Ralph’s climactic confrontation is the apotheosis of a debate on manhood that’s been simmering throughout. The answers to its questions are maddeningly elusive to these men, who came out of a culture of machismo ill-equipped to deal with the realities of love and conflict – of life. But the arc tilts hesitantly upward, with a tiny hopeful moment at the very end, suggesting that all may not be lost for these deeply flawed, terribly human characters.

The acting, script, and direction, enhanced by evocative music, sound, and lighting and by Sherry Martinez’s dead-on costumes, are interlocking facets of a gem of a production. The Motherf**cker with the Hat runs through Nov. 19 at the Gloria Maddox Theatre at T. Schreiber Studio in Manhattan. For tickets visit the Schreiber Studio website.

n The Motherf**ker With The Hat

By Stephen Adly Guirgis; Directed by Peter Jensen

Off Off Broadway, Play Revival
Runs through 11.19.16
T. Schreiber Theatre, 151 West 26th Street, 7th Floor

by Elizabeth Kipp-Giusti on 10.25.16

The Motherf***er With A Hat

Omar Bustamante and Viviana Valeria in The Motherf***er With The Hat.

BOTTOM LINE: A sharply funny revival of Stephen Adly Guirgis’ complex story about how even good people can be motherf**kers.

Jackie (Omar Bustamante) is just about to get his life together. Newly released from Rikers Island, he has a new job, a new AA sponsor, and hope for the future. Veronica (Viviana Valeria), his longtime love, welcomes him home with flirtatious affection and support, built on the foundation of their tangled history together. Things are going well. That’s when Jackie notices a stranger’s motherf**king hat on the table. With the smell of Aqua Velva and mistrust, truths and trust begin to unravel, leading Jackie and Veronica down a path of discovery, loss, and empanadas. A darkly comic story about friendship and addiction, The Motherf**ker With The Hat reveals the brutal reality of people’s complexities.

Stephen Adly Guirgis’ heartbreaking script about two f**kups trying hard not to f**k up again has great rhythms, capitalizing on hyper-specific details about New York City and linguistic clues that honor the Puerto Rican heritage of the show’s central characters. It’s also full of graphic language and cringe-worthy unexpected plot twists that evoke audible gasps from the audience. Director Peter Jensen, the Artistic Director of T. Schreiber Theatre, builds patient early scenes with this compelling cast, with great, tragic payoff later in the show when the story’s secrets come to light. Capitalizing on the show’s central mystery, he has smartly chosen to highlight the ways in which every character is suspect by dressing the actors in the same titular black fedora for the many elegant scene changes. Miguel Urbino’s clever set designs create three distinct worlds for the characters to move through, each with intricate, thoughtful details. Sound and light design by Andy Evan Cohen and Eric Cope, respectively, also are subtly smart; when characters watch television, there is a noticeable light shift, and savvy audience members will be able to recognize theme music to TV shows. The universe of the world of The Motherf**ker With The Hat is coherent and believable.

The cohesion of this production is also due in no small part to the strong performances of the cast. As Jackie, Omar Bustamante has great emotional range, vacillating between explosive anger and raw vulnerability. In their shared scenes, he and Viviana Valeria show us their characters’ patterns of self-sabotage with a nuanced flaws-and-all transparency. Meanwhile, as Jackie’s hyper-calm AA sponsor Ralph, Casey Braxton provides us with a wickedly good pivot halfway through the show, and the accepting image he paints early is revealed to have a horribly corrupted dark side. Braxton plays Ralph with a grounded confidence that is infinitely engaging; it becomes obvious why he is so easy, if dangerous, to trust. Jill Bianchini, Ralph’s beleaguered and broken wife Victoria, makes the most of her few scenes with a pointedly focused portrayal of resentment. Finally, Robby Ramos’ hilarious Cousin Julio, the health nut with a passion for Jean Claude van Damme violence, steals every scene he is in with perfect comedic timing and a genuine kindness that makes him infinitely believable. A graduate of the T. Schreiber one-year acting conservatory, he is a great advertisement for the quality of their instruction and a talent to watch.

Explaining why he is willing to help Jackie with a dangerous confrontation, Cousin Julio tells him a story about when they were kids together in Harlem, smoking on the Columbia University sundial after dark and talking about speedboats. He paints a picture of Jackie as a flawed but kind little boy, full of mistakes and love. The same boy is at the center of The Motherf**ker With The Hat, which pushes against stereotypes and expectations through high-octane verbal sparring and complex characters, and speaks about addiction and trust without falling into generalizations. T. Schreiber’s excellent production should be a feather in their cap.

(The Motherf**ker With The Hat plays at T. Schreiber Theatre, 151 West 26th Street, 7th Floor, through November 19, 2016. The running time is one hour and forty minutes with an intermission. Performances are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8; and Wednesday November 9 and 16 at 2. Tickets are $20 and are available at or by calling 866-811-4111.

The Motherf**ker With The Hat is written by Stephen Adly Guirgis. Directed by Peter Jensen. Produced by T. Schreiber Theatre. Producing Director is Halle Morse. Assistant Director is Jennifer Weiser. Set Design is by Miguel Urbino. Lighting Design is by Eric Cope. Sound Design is by Andy Evan Cohen. Costume Design is by Sherry Martinez. Prop Master is Lilian Sun. Stage Manager is Clarissa Marie Ligon. Assistant Stage Manager is Tai Thompson and Jessica Baird. Production Assistant is Raquel Loving. Technical Direction is by Ana Dratz. Master Electrician is Mitchell Ost. Fight Choreography is by Randall Rodriguez. Stagehand Mark Tacderas. Press Representative Andrea Alton PR. Graphic Art and Design is by Clarissa Marie Ligon.

The cast is Viviana Valeria, Omar Bustamante, Casey Braxton, Jill Bianchini, and Robby Ramos.


OffOffOnline Review: Addictions of the City

By Yani Perez October 28, 2016

The characters are lively, the language is crisp and urban, and the acting is skilled in Stephen Adly Guirgis’s The Motherf**ker with the Hat. The energy of classic salsa music in the house helps pump up the energy at T. Schreiber Theatre’s exciting production.

Guirgis’s unabashedly vulgar play explores themes of love, morality and choice in one of the most diverse cities in the world, New York. His characters, although primarily of Puerto Rican extraction, encompass the multiple ethnicities of the city. Most are plagued with addictions and afflictions that raises the stakes of their every move. The play, one of Guirgis’s best, is both hilarious and thought-provoking.

It starts with a high energy-conversation. Veronica (Viviana Valeria) is on the phone with her mother, who has an addiction to alcohol; Veronica dislikes her mother’s fish-faced boyfriend and tells her, “You’re dating a “fuckin’ big-time loser with a head like a actual fuckin’ fish! …Ma, when you see him tonight: Take a moment. Take a breath. Take a real good look and just ax yourself in all honesty—‘Do I wanna fuck him—or fry him up with a little adobo and paprika…?

Casey Braxton (left) is Ralph D and Omar Bustamante is Jackie in Stephen Adly Guirgis’s “The Motherf**er with the Hat.” Top: Braxton with Jill Bianchini as Veronica. Photos by Ryan Camarena.


Wrapped around the jokes and comic dialogue lies the issue of coping, or rather, surviving. Guirgis’s characters are struggling with heavy substance abuse and making it one day at a time. Each day is a journey for them. They include Jackie (Omar Bustamante) who enters with flowers in his hands and greets Veronica with enthusiasm and love. He chants a rhythmic “These flowers are for my Beautiful Boriqua Taino Mamacita Love Me Long Time Princess fuckin’ Beauty Queen.” Having just landed a job, Jackie wants to celebrate. He begins talking about their future, possible promotions—their life together. Still, Veronica is having trouble getting clean..

nWhile Veronica takes a shower, Jackie finds a hat—a hat he knows does not belong to him. He smells the bed and pillows. He then asks Veronica, “Why the bed smell like Aqua Velva and dick?” But Veronica denies any infidelity and tries to calm him down by suggesting they go eat some pie. (That’s right, pie.) He reluctantly agrees.

Ralph D (Casey Braxton) is another one of the conflicted characters in the play. As a sponsor, he is guiding Jackie on the path to sobriety. Yet he is also the cause of Jackie’s fall. Ralph D has had an affair with Veronica while Jackie was in jail. Although Ralph D cares about Jackie, he has completely betrayed him. Ralph D has stayed “clean” from his additions, but he is not “clean” morally or ethically. Victoria (Jill Bianchini) and Jackie try as well, but inevitably fall off the wagon.

Among the charismatic, enigmatic characters is also Cousin Julio (Bobby Ramos). Julio helps Jackie hide a gun that he has used to threaten the man he thought was the owner of the hat. “Leave the gun. Take the empanadas,” he advises, in one of many comic lines. Julio is a delicious dichotomy of a character. Humorous and deep, he values family and is brutally honest, and Ramos’s performance is a crowd-pleaser.

Director Peter Jensen keeps the production’s energy high, and scenic designer Miguel Urbino uses sets that are minimal yet functional. They resemble an urban setting that captures the lives of these characters. Sound designer Andy Evan Cohen provides a taste of the urban Latino scene in New York City with salsa and hip-hop playing between scenes and during intermission—including “So Fresh and So Clean” by Outkast and classics by Hector Lavoe.

The Motherf**er with the Hat is a production you won’t want to miss.

The Motherf**er with the Hat plays through Nov. 19 at T. Schreiber Theatre (151 W. 26th St.) Evening performances are at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; matinees are at 2 p.m. Nov. 9 and 16. Tickets are $20 for general admission; $30 for reserved seating; $40 for dinner plus VIP reserved seating. For more information, call (212) 352-3101 or visit The production contains graphic language.

Written by Stephen Adly Guirgis
Directed by Peter Jensen
Produced by Halle Morse
T. Schreiber Studio and Theater

Don’t be fooled by the lacerating and hilarious profanity or the Bronx-Puerto Rican street-talk in The Mother F**ker With The Hat. The characters, who seem like familiar caricatures at first, evolve into complex people worthy of our interest and empathy. They are people struggling to understand and cope with issues that transcend economic and educational class, issues such as love, dependency (on people as well as drugs), trust, friendship, duplicity and struggle. What is hysterically funny becomes painfully poignant as we learn more about their lives and become engrossed in their plight, uncertain how things will wind up.

When Jackie (Omar Bustamante), just released from prison, returns to his girlfriend Veronica’s apartment itching for some hot sex, he smells “aqua-velva on the pillow and dick on the sheets.” Then he discovers a man’s hat and becomes enraged. Veronica denies any infidelity and the sparks fly. Jackie confides in his sponsor, Ralph (Casey Braxton) who tries to calm him down until Ralph’s wife Victoria (Jill Bianchini) tells him that Veronica was cheating with Ralph while he was in prison. Jackie retreats to his cousin Julio’s (Robby Ramos) apartment for solace. Julio gives Jackie some perspective and offers to be his “Van Damm” if he needs help when confronting Ralph.

Impressive performances by the entire cast, under the skillful direction of Peter Jensen, make Stephen Adly Guirgis’ brilliant and authentic words come alive. (Viviana Valeria stands out as Veronica.) An efficient stage staff minimizes the distraction of the frequent scene changes. This production is well-worth seeing even if you have seen the original production on Broadway. It is also an excellent example of how T. Schreiber Studios can provide a quality theater experience at prices that are affordable for everyone.

Happy Face

October 19 – Nov. 19
OvationTix 866-811-4111

The Gloria Maddox Theater
151 West 26th St. 7th floor
NY NY 10001


ELJNYC Review: T. Schreiber Theatre Presents
T. Schreiber Theatre

151 West 26th Street, 7th Floor 
NY NY 10001
19 October-19 November 2016 

I’m a big fan of Chris Rock, so I had trepidations about seeing the T. Schreiber Theatre production of THE MOTHERF**KER WITH THE HAT. I should not have been worried.

THE MOTHER F**KER WITH THE HAT is a dark comedy about self-absorbed, self-defeating people who strive to find love and acceptance even as they drive it away. Centered around Jackie (Omar Bustamante) and Veronica (alliterally played by Viviana Valeria!) who are trying to work out being together after Jackie gets out of prison, the play ricochets between their apartment, his sponsor and his wife’s apartment, and Jackie’s cousin Julio’s apartment.

Mr. Bustamante’s Jackie never lets his energy down. It is an intense, violent, yet endearing performance as Jackie strives to do the right thing, even if it’s not always the best (or legal) thing to do. Bustamente is ably supported by the adorable Robby Ramos as his nerdy Cousin Julio, and the lovely Viviana Valeria as his addict girlfriend.

Casey Braxton plays Ralph (the character played by Chris Rock on Broadway) with dexterous aplomb. With the spiritual air (and slender, fit build) of a yoga instructor, Braxton balances Ralph’s soothing AA sponsor advice with the sleazy charm of a serial seducer who finds nothing contradictory in telling his sponsee to break up with his girlfriend because she is an addict, while he himself is sleeping with her.

Jill Bianchi rounds out the terrific cast as the emotionally beaten down wife of Ralph who decides the best revenge would be seducing Jackie.

– Jean Tait – Photo Flash: First Look at THE MOTHERF**KER WITH THE HAT at T. Schreiber Theatre

October 28
2:37 PM2016

T. Schreiber Theatre (TST) celebrates its 48th Anniversary with the first play of their 2016-17 Season, The Motherf**ker with the Hat by Stephen Adly Guirgis. The production is the first New York revival of the play since the Broadway run in 2011. Playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2015 for his play Between Riverside and Crazy and co-created the hit Netflix series The Get Down with Baz Luhrmann. BroadwayWorld has a first look at the cast in action below!

The Motherf**ker with the Hat is directed by TST Artistic Director Peter Jensen whose production of Balm in Gilead, won a 2011 New York Innovative Theatre Award for Outstanding Production of a Play. Producing Director Halle Morse produces the show. Jennifer Weiserassistant directs. TST is currently nominated for 13 New York Innovative Theatre (NYIT) awards, including Outstanding Premiere Production of a Play for Natural Life, and Outstanding Revival of a Play for Hot L. Baltimore and Harper Regan.

Jackie’s life is on the verge of coming together. He was just released from jail, joined AA, and has a new sponsor helping him stay clean and sober. Then there’s Veronica, his childhood sweetheart. When the smell of Aqua Velva, and a hat comes between them, sparks fly. Fast, furious and filled with sharp poetic dialogue and flawed, colorful, wounded characters, The Motherf**ker with the Hat crackles with truth, humor and a sense of hope. A dark comic tale about friendship, love, addiction, and the difficulties of adulthood in New York City.

The cast features Jill Bianchini (The Hot L Baltimore/T. Schreiber Theatre), Casey Braxton (The Barbecue/13th Street Repertory Theater), Omar Bustamante (The Last Days of Judas Iscariot/T. Schreiber Theatre), Robby Ramos (Contigo/Signature Theatre), and Viviana Valeria (ROACH/Independent Film).

The creative team includes set design by Miguel Urbino, lighting design by Eric Cope, sound design by Andy Evan Cohen, costume design by Sherry Martinez, property design by Lilian Sun, stage management by Clarissa Marie Ligon, assistant stage managers Tai Thompson and Jessica Baird, production assistant Raquel Loving, and technical director Ana Dratz.

The Motherf**ker with the Hat runs now through November 19, Wednesday – Saturday at 8:00 pm, matinees, November 9 & 16 at 2:00 pm. Tickets are now available at Performances take place at T. Schreiber Theatre, 151 West 26th Street, 7th Floor (between 6th & 7th Ave.), New York, New York 10001.

Photo Credit: Ryan Camarena

high res photosn

Photo Flash: First Look at THE MOTHERF**KER WITH THE HAT at T. Schreiber Theatre

Omar Bustamante and Viviana Valeria

Omar Bustamante and Viviana Valeria

Jill Bianchini and Omar Bustamante

Photo Flash: First Look at THE MOTHERF**KER WITH THE HAT at T. Schreiber Theatre
Omar Bustamante and Robby Ramos

Photo Flash: First Look at THE MOTHERF**KER WITH THE HAT at T. Schreiber Theatre
Omar Bustamante and Viviana Valeria

Photo Flash: First Look at THE MOTHERF**KER WITH THE HAT at T. Schreiber Theatre
Robby Ramos

Photo Flash: First Look at THE MOTHERF**KER WITH THE HAT at T. Schreiber Theatre
Omar Bustamante and Casey Braxton