Before Steven Bauer hit it big in Hollywood, he was best known for playing Joe Peña, the hunky, older Cuban-American teenage son on the classic sitcom “¿Que Pasa, USA?” on WPBT-Ch. 2.
Bauer will reprise that role for a live stage production of the sitcom – “¿Que Pasa, USA? Today…40 Years Later” — which will debut May 17 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami.
Bauer, 61, is expected to make a formal announcement about rejoining the “¿Que Pasa, USA?” cast this morning at a press conference at Miami Dade College in downtown Miami.
The original 1970s bilingual sitcom followed the everyday cultural clashes of the fictional Peña family in Miami: father Pepe, mother Juana, teenage children Joe and Carmen, and grandparents Antonio and Adela. Regular characters included Carmen’s best friends, Sharon and Violeta.
Stories revolved around topics like Santeria, Cuban funerals, dating non-Cubans, chaperoned dates and telenovelas.
The new stage production follows the next generation of the Peña family with a mostly new cast. In addition to Bauer, three of the original cast members are part of the new production: Ana Margo who played Carmen will have a cameo role; Connie Ramirez who played Violeta; and Barbara Ann Martin who played Sharon.
When Bauer played the role, he was credited as Rocky Echevarría before changing his name. The University of Miami theater student went on to star in 1983’s “Scarface’’ (which was partly shot in Miami and Miami Beach) and 1984’s “Thief of Hearts” and other movies. In 2013, he joined the cast of the Showtime series “Ray Donovan” a role that he continues to play.
The “¿Que Pasa, USA?” stage production is a collaboration between Loud and Live, South Florida PBS and the Arsht Center. Since the show’s announcement last October, several more performances have been added through May 26.