A Brazilian Twist

Book & Lyrics by Karen Zacarías
Music by Deborah Wicks La Puma


A spunky orphan girl on the streets of Rio de Janeiro discovers a new kind of family in this musical with a Brazilian beat inspired by Charles Dickens’s classic novel.


“OLIVÉRio: A Brazilian Twist shines a light on continuing child poverty in our cities today, but ends on a note of hope – all set to a samba beat and brightened with the flamboyant costumes of Carnival.” – Amy Alipio, Our Kids


Felicia Curry, The Kennedy Center. Photo credit: Teresa Wood

OLIVÉRio: A Brazilian Twist was commissioned by the John F Kennedy Center for the Arts in Washington DC, and was first workshopped at the 2014 New Visions/New Voices Festival under the direction of Scot Reese. It premiered at the Kennedy Center in January, 2016 under the direction of Juliette Carrillo, with music direction by guitarist Richard Miller.


Oliverio is published by the Dramatic Publishing Company.

Patricia Jewel and Ella Saldana North, MainStreet Theatre, Rancho Cucamonga, CA. Photo Credit: Ed Krieger


“Zacarías explores the immense socioeconomic inequality in a modern, large Latin American city by telling a familiar story in a way that even an elementary school age child could understand. The message offered within the play, likewise, is an important one for even the youngest theatregoer. Hope can survive.”  – Jennifer Perry, BWW Review

Musical Numbers


2. OBRIGADA - Oli, Ensemble
2. OBRIGADA - Oli, Ensemble


4. A LITTLE BIT MORE - Oli, Nanci, Zé
4. A LITTLE BIT MORE - Oli, Nanci, Zé

5. EAT OR BE EATEN - Sykes
5. EAT OR BE EATEN - Sykes

6. I'M GUILTY - Oli

7. A VIDA BOA - All
7. A VIDA BOA - All

8. THE STORM - All


10. CARNAVAL - All
10. CARNAVAL - All

Audio demo features the voice talents of Justin Deninger (Zé), Justin Figueroa (Sykes), Scott Graff (Falcao), Eve La Puma (Nanci), Sharmila G. Lash (Iemanja), Ella North (Oli), Rosie La Puma (ensemble) and the composer (Rosa Maria), along with instrumentalists Richard Miller (Guitar), Leonardo Lucini (Bass) and Bruno Lucini (Percussion).

Cast members at the Kennedy Center. Photo credit: Teresa Wood

Production Elements

Max Torres, Anthea Neri Best, Ella Saldana North, MainStreet Theatre, Rancho Cucamonga, CA. Photo Credit: Ed Krieger

Cast: 4 Women, 3 Men

DIRECTOR / IEMANJA – Goddess of the Sea, also plays JUDGE (Mezzo)
ACTOR 1 / ROSA MARIA – a fearful rich woman (Alto)
ACTOR 4 / NANCÍ – a world-weary young woman (Alto)
KID in AUDIENCE / OLI – a pure, innocent, kind and smart little girl (Mezzo)

ACTOR 2 / FALCÃO – a charismatic con man (Baritone)
ACTOR 3 / SYKES – a smooth-talking, crooked, unredeemable policeman (Bari/Tenor)
ACTOR 5 / ZÉ ESQUIVA – a crafty, sly, clever boy (Tenor)

(l-r) Erika Rose, James Konicek, Arturo Soria, Sasha Olinick, and Felicia Curry at the Kennedy Center. Photo credit: Teresa Wood

Music:  Samba, Bossanova, Baiao, and other traditional Brazilian songs scored for Guitar, Electric Bass, and Percussion.  Accompaniment tracks available.
Musical Difficulty: Moderate
Technical Requirements: Minimal
Suggested Audience: Young Audiences/Families

“We are dropped into a colorful world of hope, trust, scandal and choice.” – Asha T’nae, Maryland Theatre Guide


KAREN ZACARÍAS (Book & Lyrics) was recently hailed by American Theatre magazine as one of the most produced playwrights in the United States. Her plays include Destiny of DesireNative GardensMariela in the DesertLegacy of LightThe Book Club Play and The Sins of Sor Juana; adaptations include Into the Beautiful NorthJust Like Us and How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent. Zacarías has written 10 TYA musicals with composer Debbie Wicks La Puma including Oliverio: A Brazilian TwistElla Enchanted: The MusicalChasing George Washington: A White House AdventureEinstein Is a DummyLooking for Roberto ClementeFrida LibreJane of the JungleCinderella Eats Rice and BeansFerdinand the Bull and The Magical Piñata. She collaborated on the libretto for Sleepy Hollow and Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises for the Washington Ballet at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Her plays have been produced at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Goodman Theatre, South Coast Repertory, the Guthrie Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Round House Theatre, GALA Hispanic Theatre, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Dallas Theater Center and many more. Zacarías is a core founder of the Latino Theater Commons, a national network that strives to update the American narrative to including the stories of Latinos. She is the founder of Young Playwrights’ Theater, an award-winning theatre company that teaches playwriting in local public schools in Washington, D.C., and she is proud to be Arena Stage’s first resident playwright. Zacarías lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and three children.  www.karenzacarias.com.

DEBORAH WICKS LA PUMA (music) – see her bio page


Richard Miller (Guitar/Music Director), Leo Lucini (Bass), Bruno Lucini (Percussion)

Buy the Oliverio  script from Dramatic Publishing

To hear a full demo of OLIVÉRIO contact us directly via our contact page.

Meanwhile, visit Crunchynotes on Bandcamp to purchase other show tunes!


Patricia Jewel, Rueben Uy, Gigi Bermingham, Anthea Neri Best, Janet Greaves, and Max Torres, MainStreet Theatre, Rancho Cucamonga, CA. Photo Credit: Ed Krieger

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