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Arroyo Café radio show 'Viva Tucson!' to honor mariachi educator Valenzuela

Arroyo Café radio show 'Viva Tucson!' to honor mariachi educator Valenzuela

David Fitzsimmons’ Arroyo Café is open for business this weekend, but this time, instead of political jabs at politicians local, state and national, the comedy troupe is serving up Tucson.

On Sunday, March 8, the Arroyo Players, a troupe of comedians, musicians and actors headed by Fitzsimmons, will perform “Viva Tucson!” the latest installment of the Arroyo Café Radio Show. It’s about Tucson and the culture seen largely through the lens of the Hispanic community.

Longtime Arroyo Café cast member Dave Membrila, who divides his 9 to 5 between selling real estate and his hypnotherapy practice, penned the play with Fitzsimmons.

Unlike most Arroyo Café shows, including the annual holiday show in December, this one is very, very light on politics and heavy on Tucson.

Membrila came up with the initial idea — a Midwest couple decides they want to know what all the fuss is about with immigration and the southern border so they come to Tucson and stumble into the Arroyo Café.

There the wacky staff with Membrila slinging hash and serving as the official town tour guide expose the couple to everything Old Pueblo, from our unmatched sunsets and historic Mission San Xavier del Bac, to our Sonoran style Mexican food and Guero Canelo’s award-winning Sonoran hot dogs.

“It brings to life some of the struggles that folks don’t really think about. And at the same time it pokes fun at some of the stereotypes we have among the Hispanic community,” said the 60-year-old Membrila, a certified hypnotherapist and Tucson native who was the founding director of Sunnyside High School’s “Los Diabilitos” mariachi program in 1991.

Membrila, who has penned a couple screenplays over the years, approached Fitzsimmons last year about doing an Arroyo Café show to benefit “The Dr. V Project” honoring Alfredo Valenzuela, the Old Pueblo’s preeminent beloved mariachi educator.

The plan is to erect a life-sized bronze statue of Valenzuela, who over a career that stretched 40 years at Davis Bilingual Elementary Magnet School taught thousands of Tucson children mariachi. All of the proceeds from Arroyo Café radio shows are donated to nonprofit organizations.

In addition to Fitzsimmons and Membrila, the cast includes comedians Priscilla Fernandez, Elliot Glicksman, Wolf Brown and Steve Holmes; vocalist Crystal Stark; Tucson broadcast personalities Fanny Carreon, Paul Cicala and Steve Nuñez; Tucson Mayor Regina Romero; Pima County politicians Richard Elias and Danny Eckstrom; the Viva Dance Studio dancers; The Festival band; and Mariachi Patron. Richard Katz is the show’s musical director.

Membrila said they are halfway to their estimated $40,000 goal for the statue, which is being created by a Tucson artist.

Vocalist Crystal Stark will participate in the show, which benefits local nonprofits.

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at or 573-4642. On Twitter @Starburch

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