The Luna-Otero Family

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The only thing better than dinner and a movie is dinner theatre, and fortunately for local residents, the Mansion Players will be filling the Luna Mansion with an evening of theatrical history while guests enjoy a gourmet meal.

“An Evening with the Luna-Otero Family” will bring to life the fascinating and sometimes controversial lives of two of the most influential and well-known families in Valencia County’s history at 7 p.m., Thursday, July 19, at the Luna Mansion in Los Lunas.

Ungelbah Daniel-Davila-News-Bulletin photo: The Mansion Players will be performing “An Evening with the Luna-Otero Family” at 7 p.m., Thursday, July 19, at the Luna Mansion in honor of the state’s centennial.

The play will consist of a series of monologues by prominent historical characters, including figures such as Solomon Luna, Josefita Otero, Domingo de Luna and Isabella Baca Luna, as they talk about their lives, loves and accomplishments.

The actors will present their monologues in full costume in each dinning room. The evening will take on an ethereal, almost ghostly vibe as the actors stroll amongst the audience as though they are their own dinner guests of long ago.

Playwright Nancy Strickland conceived of the play after realizing no one else, locally, was celebrating the state’s centennial in this fashion.

Since much of the state Constitution was created within the walls of the Luna Mansion, it seemed only fitting to not only tell the story of the people involved, but perform it within those very same walls.

“Nancy wanted to write something to celebrate the centennial and no pieces had been done about the mansion or the Luna family, so she thought that would be a good thing to pursue,” said William Wallace, assistant director and stage manager.

Ungelbah Daniel-Davila-News-Bulletin photo: Anita, played by Jaden Love, left, listens as Domingo de Luna, played by Jack Fink, right, talks about his life and family during “An Evening with the Luna-Otero Family.”

Wallace said the the Mansion Players began rehearsing in January and refined the play into what it is now. Originally the play was three times the length it is now.

“She (Nancy) did a lot of research with different historians and the Los Lunas Historical Society,” said Barbara LoLordo, the play’s director.

Wallace says that this will be a spectacular event to attend to pay homage to our state’s 100th birthday and take the time to look into an important piece of state and local history in a fun, relaxing atmosphere with good food and fellowship.

There are also many ancestors of the Luna and Otero families who don’t know their family’s history and could come to learn more, or experience the history in a new way, says LoLordo.

She said the building itself has a lot to offer in terms of family history with pictures every where of the Lunas and Oteros.

“It’s a new thing for here, for the Luna Mansion,” Lolordo says of the nearly 30 minute play. “The mansion hasn’t done this before and we aren’t making use of lights and technical effects, we’re using costumes and the setting.

“We’re envisioning four rooms, so each character or characters will do their presentation in each room that is available — could be three, but probably four (rooms.)”

The most interesting aspect of the play, says Wallace, is the controversy behind the death of Solomon Luna, which may or may not have been a murder.

“One thing that I personally like about it is being here where they wrote the Constitution for the sate. This is actually where statehood began — right here in this building,” Wallace said.

“If it wasn’t for those men sitting down there to do this, we wouldn’t have it. (Solomon Luna) was the only one willing to step forward to take that responsibility to do it because he wasn’t afraid.

“By the time they asked him to write the Constitution, he’d achieved so much already, they couldn’t scare him,” he said. “That’s why everybody thinks he was murdered.”

Because of limited seating, the Mansion Players ask that guests make reservations for the evening with the Luna Mansion Landmark Steakhouse at 865-7333.

The cost for the dinner and the performance is $42 a person, with part of the proceeds will go to the Mansion Players, a nonprofit organization.


-- Email the author at udavila@news-bulletin.com.