Eight actors stand in a row onstage, dressed in costumes and makeup of the Aztec empire. They are lit in a reddish glow.
The ensemble of Aztec Human Sacrifice at City Lit Theater Credit: Steve Graue

Step into the Aztec Empire during the 16th century, on the eve of a new millennium.

City Lit’s world-premiere musical Aztec Human Sacrifice (written by Kingsley Day and Philip LaZebnik) tells the tale of The Chosen One (Freddy Mauricio), destined for sacrifice to ensure the sun’s rise. Defying fate, he flees with Princess (Marcela Ossa Gómez), provoking a high-stakes chase as the High Priest (Luis Del Valle), Emperor (Miguel De León), and his army pursue the ill-fated couple before the world ends. 

Aztec Human Sacrifice
Through 6/18: Fri-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM; also Mon 6/5 and 6/12 7:30 PM; City Lit Theater, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr, 773-293-3682, citylit.org, $34 ($29 seniors, $12 students and military)

This 90-minute fictional play offers a dark twist on a Disney animated adventure film, weaving together romance, twists, witty banter, and drama. Our young protagonist questions his societal norms, embarking on a self-discovery journey, brought to life by an energetic 13-member cast with infectious enthusiasm.   

Director Jay Españo’s commitment to authenticity is commendable. Españo collaborated with Xochitl-Quetzal Aztec, a dance company in Little Village dedicated to preserving Mexico’s ancient culture, and consulted Virginia Miller, a professor of Pre-Columbian art at the University of Illinois Chicago, for costumes and set design. Costume designer Andrés Mota, a graduate of Mexico City’s National Institute of Fine Arts, already had a foundation in Aztec culture from his time in school but delved even deeper into Aztec clothing and accessories by watching documentaries.

The team’s passion shines through, resulting in an enlightening and entertaining experience. As City Lit’s 42nd season concludes, Aztec Human Sacrifice stands as a fitting finale, made all the more sentimental with artistic director and producer Terry McCabe’s nearing retirement.