Preview: Cesar and Ruben

Cesar and Ruben; 7 p.m. Friday, 8 p.m. Saturday; $12-$15. Teatro Nagual at Grant Union High School Auditorium, 1400 Grand Avenue; (916) 549-3341;

This Friday would have been the 90th birthday of Cesar Chavez, a man some call an American Gandhi, a pacifist who fought with only his heart and his mind. Along with Dolores Huerta, he co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (later the United Farm Workers of America) in 1962 and improved the lives of millions of laborers through marches and boycotts.

In two performances this weekend, Sacramento’s Teatro Nagual, a Latino theater arts company, will celebrate the life of Chavez in Cesar and Ruben, a musical written by Hollywood actor and activist Ed Begley Jr. and directed by Richard Falcon. It stars Juan Ramos as Chavez and Elio Gutierrez as Ruben Salazar, a Los Angeles Times reporter who was the first Mexican-American to cover the Chicano community in the mainstream media. The show’s songs are from a variety of sources, including Sting (translated into Spanish), Enrique Iglesias, Ruben Blades and Santana. Teatro Nagual is dedicated to producing programs that educate the community at large about the effectiveness of nonviolent change, community activism and unity through artistic endeavors. Cesar and Ruben is its latest endeavor. Friday’s Chavez birthday celebration will be attended by UFW President Arturo Rodriguez; Paul Chavez, Cesar’s son and president of the Cesar Chavez Foundation; along with other members of the Chavez family.