Thalia Hispanic Theatre is Queens’ Original Home for Latino Culture
Our mission is to celebrate the vibrancy and diversity of the Hispanic/Latinx culture with unique productions of theatre, music and dance.
We are the first and only BILINGUAL Hispanic theatre in Queens, serving one of the most diverse communities in the United States, including more than one million Hispanics from every Spanish-speaking nation in the world. Every month is Hispanic Heritage Month at Thalia Spanish Theatre.
We’ve grown from a community-based theatre to a world class cultural institution, collaborating with guest artists from Spain, Uruguay, India, Germany, Israel, Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Colombia, Uruguay, Argentina and more. In over four decades our more than 245 productions of the best Spanish plays, zarzuelas (Spanish operettas) and shows of music & dance, have earned national recognition as a leader in New York City’s celebrated Spanish theatre movement, have been acclaimed by audiences and critics, and received 249 AWARDS FOR ARTISTIC EXCELLENCE locally, nationally and internationally, including: a LATIN GRAMMY, many from ACE (Association of Critics of Entertainment) –equivalent to a Latin TONY–. from HOLA (Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors) and from ATI (Artistas de Teatro Independiente), the 1997 & 1989 ENCORE Awards of the Arts & Business Council, the 1997 New York State Governor’s Arts Award, and the 2009 Mayor’s Award for Arts & Culture.
Internationally, in November 2022, Thalia’s Artistic Director Angel Gil Orrios received from the VicePresident of Spain the 2022 Gold Medal awarded by the Academia de Artes Escénicas de España to the Alliance of Teatros Latinos NY, led by Thalia Spanish Theatre and eight other Hispanic theaters. And in March 27, 2023, International Theater Day, Thalia Spanish Theatre’s Bilingual World Premiere of “Life Lessons/Lecciones de Vida” by Eduardo Galán produced & directed by Angel Gil Orrios, received in Madrid the first International 2023 Talia Award from the Academy of Performing Arts of Spain for the “Best Production of Performing Arts in NY by a Contemporary Hispanic/Latinx Author”.
Our productions have been presented to full houses at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall; the Millennium Theatre in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn; Kingsborough Community College; Bergen Community College in New Jersey; Millersville University in Pennsylvania; Merkin Concert Hall; outdoors at Untermyer State Park in Yonkers; the International Festival of Zarzuela in El Paso, Texas; and at International Theatre Festivals in Spain, Colombia, Guatemala and South Korea.
In 1977, actress and director Silvia Brito, against all odds, established Thalia Spanish Theatre in Queens. She was determined to meet the neglected cultural needs of the borough’s incredibly diverse and quickly growing Hispanic community. Ms. Brito concluded her distinguished career with Thalia when she retired on December 31, 1999, paving the way for us to enter the new millennium under new leadership.
Her chosen successor, acclaimed Spanish director/writer/ producer/designer Angel Gil Orrios, has produced, designed and directed more than 140 productions in the United States, Spain, France, Korea and Latin America in his 45+year artistic career. Committed to maintaining the quality that has become the hallmark of Thalia, Mr. Gil Orrios produces World Premieres & American Premieres of Spanish, Latin American & Hispanic/Latinx plays, World Premiere original dance musicals, flamenco and tango dance programs and more, and the annual Free Thalia al Aire Libre/Outdoors Festival in our neighborhood park.
His most important innovation is to present our productions with bilingual casts, alternating performances in English and Spanish.
We’re celebrated as an important venue for new plays by authors from Spain and the Americas. . In 2003 we produced the Bilingual World Premiere of “El Tuerto es Rey/The One-Eyed Man is King” by Mexico’s Carlos Fuentes; in 2012 the Bilingual World Premiere of Jaime Salom’s “La Callas & Medea”; in 2015 the Bilingual World Premiere of Antonio Munoz de Mesa’s “Abuse/Abuso”; the bilingual world premiere of Ramirez de Haro’s “Secret Weapons of FAT Destruction/Tu arma secreta contra la CELULITIS rebelde”; the Bilingual American Premiere of Juan Carlos Rubio’s “Apartment for Sale (Tenant Included)/Se vende apartamento (con inquilino)”; and the Bilingual World Premiere of the flamenco musical “Amor Latino”. In 2022 the Bilingual World Premiere of “Life Lessons/Lecciones de Vida” by Eduardo Galán produced & directed by Angel Gil Orrios received 15 Awards for Artistic Excellence: 1 HOLA, 3 ATI, 3 LATA, 7 Talia of NY, and the first International 2023 Premio Talia de la Academia de las Artes Escenicas de Espana en Madrid.In 2011, the bilingual World Premiere of “No Problemo Amigo” by award-winning Colombian novelist Jaime Espinal. The play was the winning submission (out of 170 new plays from 17 different countries) of the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) inaugural Hispanic-American Playwriting Competition in the category “Hispanics in the U.S. Without Stereotypes”. Angel Gil Orrios was selected by the IDB, which is based in Washington, D.C., to direct the competition.
The production also marked the debut of our new supertitle projection/open captioning system, made possible by a capital grant from Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. It enabled us to portray in the same performance characters speaking in English or in Spanish, with translations of their dialog projected, comic-book style, on the scenery.
We also have produced masterworks by such celebrated writers as Calderon de la Barca and Jardiel Poncela of Spain and Chile’s Miguel Frank, and created tree World Premiere flamenco musicals written by Pablo Picasso.
Our BILINGUAL productions are dedicated to bringing to life onstage a canon of literature by the finest Spanish and Latin American authors for American audiences who otherwise would never know them. We commission the highest-quality English-language translations to attract students and educators as well as the general public.
We were the first Spanish theatre in New York to incorporate Folklore, which has included Mexican and Colombian song & dance, Tango, and Flamenco, into its seasons. The Folklore Shows, originally produced only on Fridays, have fostered the development (since 2001) of our original World Premiere dance musicals incorporating music, dance, text and visual arts to create what Mr. Gil calls a “total theatre experience”.
We are the artistic home in the United States for Queens-based Mestizo Art Center, Dance Company Cali Salsa Pal’ Mundo, Yloy Ybarra”s Ballet Fiesta Mexicana, and Andrea Del Conte Danza España. For 30 years –until he passed away due to Covid19 on January 5th, 2021–, our Musical Director was the internationally renowned bandoneon Maestro, composer and arranger Raul Jaurena, who was praised by Astor Piazzolla as one of the best bandoneon players in the world. Director Angel Gil Orrios created with Maestro Jaurena 17 World Premiere Musicals which were sold-out hits with audiences and got rave reviews. The music Maestro Jaurena composed for our 2005 musical “Te Amo Tango (I Love Tango)”, recorded live at our theatre and released by Soundbrush Records, won the 2007 Latin Grammy Award for Best Tango Album.
We hosted the United States debut of acclaimed young flamenco composer/guitarist Daniel Casares, whose 2004 concert on our stage earned him the ACE Award for Revelation of the Year, and led to a recording contract with Universal. He later collaborated with Maestro Jaurena on our 2006 World Premiere musical “Tango & Flamenco Fusion”. We also hosted the debut in 2009 of the all-female Mariachi Flor de Toloache, nominated twice for the Latin Grammy, and winning the prestigious award in 2017.
Thalia Spanish Theatre is a member of the Coalition of Theatres of Color (CTC), and the Alliance of Teatros Latinos/NY.