Project Spotlight presents Race to Infinity, a play that unpacks Sara’s shaky upbringing in a Latin household and struggle to find her worth when faced with expectations that seem impossible to reach.

All her life, Sara recalls being second to her brother, Samuel. However, when she discovers a new version of the video game she played with him growing up, Sara begins a quest to prove herself to those around her.

This play involves strong language, prop firearms, generational trauma, simulated explosion sounds, alcohol abuse and flashing lights. 

UCF faculty and staff, and students from any institution with a valid ID can use the code ILOVEUCF2023 for a $5 discount.


Playright: Gian Arellano*

Hailey Marquez*,
Hilary Pardey-Hernandez*

Scenic Designers:
Jackson David*, Matthew Conte*,
Jonanthony Rodriguez*

Projection Designers:
Jonanthony Rodriguez*, Matthew Conte*

Sound Designer:
Erica Fox*

Lighting Designer:
Ally Reichard*

Props Manager:
Donna Bess*

Costume Designer:
Leyandra Cardoza*

Stage Manager:
Annalee Weydert*

*Theatre UCF student


SARA: Tabitha Santillan*
SAMUEL: Jonathan Gardon*
LUCIA: Joyce Perez*
ARTURO, ENSEMBLE: Christian Polastry*
DEBORAH: Roma Zizza*
KITTY: Emily Joy Nardoni*
GUADALUPE/MRS. RAMOS: Faviana Vazquez*
ENSEMBLE, U/S SARA: Sofía Belén*
ENSEMBLE, U/S LUCIA: Ariana Martinez*
U/S KITTY: Samantha Kalish*

*Theatre UCF student


Headshots of the cast of Race to Infinity.



Faculty Advisor: Belinda Boyd
Technical Director: Jackson David*
Dramaturg: Giselle Guiterrez*
Props Manager: Donna Bess*
Projectionist: Jonanthony Rodriguez*
Sound Board Op: Jaden Doig*
Assistant Stage Manager: Tyler Simons*
CTA Assistant Stage Managers: Cameron Wynne*, Van Hernandez*
Safety Consultant: Andres Procel*
Soccer Consultant: Andrew Brackett
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer: Jaya Wilson*
Crew: Giselle Guiterrez*, Sam Flynn

*Theatre UCF student


Sofía Belén (Ensemble, U/S Sara) (she/her) is an Entertainment Management major at UCF. She’s been involved in theatre (performance and technical) her entire life. She’s a writer, director and an independent producer of short films and music projects in her spare time. She is more than excited for her second Project Spotlight acting opportunity and wants to thank everyone involved. She’d also like to thank the amazing cast and crew of Race to Infinity for making this such an invaluable experience. Thanks to Hilary and Hailey, especially. Thank you to my beautiful family and friends for being the best support system a girl could ask for. Break Legs, everyone!

Johan Del Aguila (Ensemble, U/S Samuel, U/S Arturo) has a passion for comedy and sarcasm and has starred in productions such as Den of Thieves and Red Light: Why It Doesn’t Stop at Valencia College. He earned his Associates in Arts degree through training such as the Uta Hagen technique, Acting for the Camera, and Voice for the Actor with notable instructors such as Ginny Kompf and John DiDonna at Valencia College. Johan is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts here at UCF. He is a skilled athlete and dancer, with experience in sports such as soccer, baseball, basketball, and football, as well as skills in yoga, rock climbing, and strength training.

Jonathan Gardon (Samuel) is a third- year in the BFA Acting program. His previous UCF credits include The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Young Dogsborough, Hook, U/S Bowl), The Interference (Actor 10), Indecent (U/S Lemml, U/S Mendel), and Much Ado About Nothing (Messenger/U/S Verges). His other favorite credits include All in the Timing (Bill/Milton/Philip Glass/Leon Trotsky) and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Edmund).

Samantha Kalish (U/S Kitty) is a freshman at UCF and is ecstatic to be making her UCF Celebrates the Arts debut!  She was previously a swing in Project Spotlight’s production of Manor of Death.  Some of her favorite credits have been Janet in The Drowsy Chaperone, Ellie in Freaky Friday, and Epónine in Les Misérables.  She would like to thank her family, friends, and the cast and creative team behind Race to Infinity and Project Spotlight for their love and support.

Ariana Martinez (Ensemble, U/S Lucia) is currently earning a BA in film and double minoring in women and gender studies and magazine journalism. They were involved in high school theater productions including Hair (Dionne) and 12 Angry Women (Guard) and first became involved in UCF's Project Spotlight in the fall as a playwright of Playing with the Past. Though Ariana plans to pursue writing, being on stage as a college student has been an incredibly cherished and exciting experience for them. They would like to thank their friends, family, and partner for always encouraging them to take every opportunity and enjoy the present.

Daniela Morales (Ensemble, U/S Deborah, U/S Guadalupe/Mrs. Ramos) is a psychology major at UCF. They have been involved in theatre since they were 4 years old and have always found it to be their happy place. She is from Miami but has both parents coming from Costa Rica and has greatly been influenced by that culture. They are excited to be able to act again after having been away from theatre for some time and they’re happy to return to her roots.

Emily Joy Nardoni (Kitty) is a senior in the B.A. Theatre Studies program with a minor in Performing Arts Administration at the University of Central Florida. She has previously performed in Project Spotlight’s Something Borrowed, Something Blue (Rosalina) and Manor of Death (The Mistress), as well as Penguin Point’s production of As It’s Written (Mrs. Kilpatrick, Parker U/S). Additionally, Emily performed in Theatre UCF’s Pegasus PlayLab production of Race To Infinity (Kitty). Emily has been pursuing theatre for years, and is seeking a career in acting as well as teaching and directing children’s theatre. She is thrilled to be working on this piece once again with this creative team and all its new additions, and would like to thank her family, friends, and the entire cast and crew for their continuous support. Facebook: Emily Joy & Instagram: emilyjoy._

Joyce Perez (Lucia) is a fourth-year transfer BFA Acting student. Her 4.0 GPA demonstrates her academic excellence and level of determination. She recently appeared on the Original Netflix Series Stranger Things Season 4. Prior experience includes As You Like It (Singer/Musician, Amiens/Hymen), and AIDA by Elton John and Tim Rice.

Christian Polastry (Arturo, Ensemble)  is a first year student in the BFA Acting Program. So far, he’s been in UCF’s production of The Interference (Understudy) and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Actor/O’Casey). While attending Broward College, Christian was seen in Luz (Oliver), Check Please (Guy) and Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (Roger). In addition to Theatre, he plans to pursue a career in Film/TV and Voiceover.

Jacob Romeo (Mr.Baldinger/Coach Ralph, Ensemble) is a first-year student in the MFA Acting program. He was last seen at UCF as Ignatius Dullfeet/Ensemble in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, but has performed throughout his undergraduate study at Berea College in some of his favorite roles, such as Bobby in Urinetown, Victor in Playing With Fire, and Chuck in She Kills Monsters.

Tabitha Santillan (Sara) is a Sophomore in the BFA Acting program. She loves to perform and is so excited to put on her first full-length production with Project Spotlight. Her past credits include Anything Goes (Erma), Into the Woods (Jack), and It’s a Wonderful Life (Aunt Tilly). She also enjoys working in film and has been in UCF Films such as Caught In the Storm (Dani), ISOLATION (Claire), and Wishing for a Sign (Aria). She plans to pursue a career in Theatre as well as Film/TV. @tabitha_santillan

Faviana Vazquez (Guadalupe/Mrs.Ramos) is in her first year as a B.A. Theatre Studies student. Her most recent acting credits include portraying Evelyn in Project Spotlight’s Shaken, on the Rocks and Sammy in The Family Business this fall. Between rehearsals, she is currently reading My Summer of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh.

Roma Zizza (Deborah) is a first year transfer student in the BA Theatre Studies Program with a Minor in Creative Writing. They are so excited to be involved in their first production with Project Spotlight. Recent credits include Theatre UCF’s production of The Interference (Understudy). Other acting credits include Much Ado About Nothing (Beatrice) and A Bright Room Called Day (Zillah). They are so grateful to finally be back in the world of live performance and make great friends in the process. @romazizza

Gian Arellano (Playwright) is a senior in the B.A. Theatre Studies program and president of Project Spotlight, UCF’s developmental student-theatre RSO. Gian loves to combine fantasy and sci-fi elements with real-world issues, with some of his notable plays being Rigged and Race to Infinity, the latter of which was originally read-through in the summer as part of Pegasus Playlab. Outside of PS, Gian participates in The Improv Academy and Playback UCF.

Donna Bess (Props Manager) is a transfer student in the BFA Design and Technology Program. She is a very detail-oriented design tech student dedicated to producing quality props for every show. She has worked on previous UCF productions such as Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Props Manager), First Date (Wardrobe Crew), Affinity Lunch Minutes (Props Assistant), The Body (Scenic Design Response) and Working (First Hand).

Leyandra Cardoza (Costume Designer) is a senior transfer student in the BFA Design and Technology program. She recently was the Costume Designer for The World Goes Round for New Gen Theatrical. Her previous Theatre UCF credits include Pegasus Playlab’s Affinity Lunch Minutes (Costume Designer), Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine (Costume Designer), As You Like It (Draper, Stitcher), Shrek the Musical (Draper, Millinery, Puppetry) Indecent (Stitcher), The Wolves (Stitcher), Sombra del Sol (Stitcher, Wardrobe Crew), Scaramouch in Naxos (Asst. Costume Designer) and Urinetown (Draper). She has a Fashion Design AAS from the Fashion Institute of Technology. Instagram: @leyandra_c

Jackson David (Scenic Designer) is a devoted theatre technician excited to travel with Broadway tours. He is passionate about bringing high quality shows across the country. While achieving his fine arts degree in theatre design and technology, he has spent countless hours in the shops directly assisting the TD and staff Electrician. Jackson is honored to have been Lead Carpenter and Production Electrician for UCF productions. He has utilized his creative carpentry skills to strengthen theaters outside of UCF by designing and constructing simple but brilliant sets under low budgets.

Erica Fox (Sound Designer) is a Junior in the BFA Theatre Design & Technology program. Some credits with Theatre UCF include Shrek: The Musical (A2), As You Like It (Sound Designer), and Bright Star (A2). She is also involved in Project Spotlight (Sound Technician). Her professional credits include As Its Written (Penguin Point) and We Begin In A Tavern (Orlando Fringe Festival) (Sound Designer). Insta: @efox_theatre

Giselle Gutierrez (Dramaturg) is a freshman in the BFA Musical Theatre program. Her previous theatre credits include Working (Ensemble), Bright Star (Alice), and Moon Over Buffalo (Roz). She is so excited to be working on a project that is so near to her heart and she is so grateful to work alongside such a talented cast and crew.

Hailey Marquez (Director) is a third-year in the B.A. Theatre Studies program. Her most recent directing credits include Shaken, On the Rocks (Director) written by Tanner Fenton with Project Spotlight,The Body, (Assistant Director) written by Steven Moulds with Pegasus Playlab, and Theatre UCF’s Shrek (Assistant Director) with UCF Celebrates the Arts 2022. She also was seen recently in the ensemble of Carrie, with the William Daniel Mills Theatre Company, where she is a directing apprentice. She is so excited to dive into her Cuban roots and work with such an amazing cast and creative team.

Hilary Pardey-Hernandez (Director) is a third-year BA Theatre Studies student at the University of Central Florida. She was featured in Theatre UCF Fall 2020, Mojada (Josefina), Pegasus Playlab’s Dear Helena (Stage Directions, U/S Tessa, U/S Helena) 2021, and Race to Infinity (Sara) 2022. Apart from her time on the stage, she has found a love for stepping behind the scenes. Over the summer she assistant stage-managed On Your Feet at the Garden Theatre and most recently was the Production Stage Manager for Carrie the Musical at Orlando Fringe. She was a first-year Daniel Mills Apprentice and is currently in leadership training for the student-run developmental organization, Project Spotlight at UCF. Hilary is very grateful for the opportunities Project Spotlight has granted her and is excited to continue her journey with this organization. She is proud of all the work the entire cast and crew of Race To Infinity dedicated to bringing this production to life. @hpardey

Ally Reichard (Lighting Design and Programming) is a second-year in the BFA Theatre Design and Technology program. She has previously worked on UCF's 2023 Celebrates the Arts Festival on Dance Concert (Lighting Design, Bolero), The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Production Electrician), and Fabulation (Assist. Production Electrician). Other Lighting Design credits include Rent, Frozen Jr, and Seussical the Musical. Her next project will be Lighting Designer of Peter and the Starcatcher in the Mainstage theatre.

Jonanthony Rodriguez (Projection Designer) is a senior in the Design and Technology program. He plans to pursue a career in themed entertainment industry as a set designer. His previous UCF credits include A Knight of Dance (Wardrobe Crew) at UCF Celebrates the Arts 2021, Indecent (Assistant Production Designer) and his most recent work as lead carpenter in Bright Star. He also gained experience collaborating in the UCF scene shop building sets for multiple UCF Productions.

Tyler Simons (Asst. Stage Manager) is a Senior in the B.A. Theatre Studies program. His past Theatre UCF credits include Working (Assistant Director) , Affinity Lunch Minutes (Assistant Director), Thaddeus Blair: Werewolf Hunter (Director), and First Day (Director). He is an award recipient of the KCACTF Best Director of a 10-minute play The Blow-Off (Director).

Annalee Weydert (Stage Manager) is a second-year in the BFA Stage Management program. Her Theatre UCF credits include Shrek the Musical (Production Assistant) Pegasus Playlab’s Race to Infinity (Asst. Stage Manager) and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Asst. Stage Manager). Her other theatre credits include Rock of Ages (Stage Manager), Mamma Mia! (Asst. Stage Manager) and Jerry’s Girls (Asst. Stage Manager) at the Athens Theatre in DeLand.

Director of the School of Performing Arts: Michael Wainstein
Theatre UCF Artistic Director: Julia Listengarten
Interim Artistic Director: Christopher Niess
Theatre UCF Director of Production: Bert Scott
Production Manager: Gary Brown
Technical Director: Tramaine Berryhill
Assistant Technical Director: Thomas Taylor
Costume Shop Manager: Allison Rexrode
Costume Shop Supervisor: Amanda Roberts
Production Electrician: Beth McAshan
Marketing Director: Jessica Compton
Box Office Manager: Bridget Parry
Assistant Box Office Manager: Austen Martin
Assistant Marketing Director: Morganne Flood
Faculty Costume Advisor: Kristina Tollefson
Faculty Stage Management Advisor: Claudia Lynch
Faculty Dramaturg/Advisor: Chloe Edmonson
Faculty Advisor/Dialect Coach: Vivian Majkowski
Faculty Sound Advisor: Casey Deiter
Faculty Lighting Advisor: Rob Siler

Gian Arellano’s Race To Infinity hones in on gender norms that have been passed on through traditional Hispanic families and the effects of these beliefs on young women. This play not only speaks on the struggles of being a Latina woman in America, but also the struggle of being part of the LGBTQ+ community while living in a traditional Hispanic household. Race To Infinity follows Sara’s journey of self realization and reflection while also seamlessly integrating fantasy with reality. Throughout this journey, Sara faces a multitude of struggles that others might find themselves relating to.

Arellano’s main source of inspiration originated from his own personal life experiences. Race To Infinity was derived from two previous plays Arellano has written: The Defender of the Cosmos and Space Chase. His first two plays never specified race, which is something Arellano felt was important to incorporate in Race To Infinity, as he believed that this was a story that needed to be told. He explained how he was always hesitant to write about the Latino community because he felt alienated by them. Growing up, Arellano lived in many different places, making it difficult to fully grasp his culture due to the constant change of surroundings. Crafting this play was healing for him as he realized “there isn't one way to be Latino”. Gian used the character Sara to explore the pressures of being a woman in a Hispanic household and how it correlates to their self perception. Arellano mentioned that he doesn’t like perfect, clear cut plays and would rather explore real, uncut stories and sprinkle in supernatural concepts. He loves making his work theatrical but includes hard-hitting themes that are bound to leave a lasting impact on the audience. This is evident in Race To Infinity as the play cycles through present time, memories, and a video game.

Within this play, there are a lot of prevalent themes to consider. The play centers around relationships and their complexity within Hispanic culture. It touches on themes regarding Hispanic standards, religion, LGBTQ rights, navigating being part of the LGBTQ community within a Hispanic household, and much more. Throughout the play, Sara has many external as well as internal struggles. Externally, she faces many obstacles such as her absent father, her demanding mother, and her “perfect” older brother. Internally, she deals with many insecurities that are a result of how she was raised. Her inability to acknowledge these insecurities caused her to project them onto other people, creating tension with her peers throughout the play. As mentioned previously, this play touches on heavy topics that are important to many people, thus allowing the audience to walk away with a new sense of understanding.

Traditionally in a Hispanic household, there are certain roles each gender holds. Machismo is defined as “a strong or exaggerated sense of manliness; an assumptive attitude that virility, courage, strength, and entitlement to dominate are attributed or concomitants of masculinity." The man is the one who works and provides for the family while the woman takes care of the chores and children. The wife is expected to raise the children while also being under the authority of the husband. Girls from a young age are taught to cook, clean, and present themselves in a way that would be a good representation of the family. Thus putting them under immense pressure not only to put the needs of everyone else above their own but also the need to always look “put together”. This is shown in the makeup scene between Lucia and Sara. Sara isn't showing any interest, yet Lucia tells her she needs to learn how to apply makeup. When Sara asks why she always wears makeup Lucia responds by saying “The reason is because makeup is very important… Yes! In a couple years, guys will be looking to date you, and you want to make sure you look your best." From a young age, Lucia instilled in Sara that in order to find love and for people to notice you, you have to put on makeup. She also mentions that makeup is the key to dating which leads to getting married and having children. She talks of this as if this is Sara's only purpose. Instead of feeding into these stereotypes, Sara actively rejects these ideals and continuously does this throughout the play such as when she plays the game: Race To Infinity.

Now more than ever, representation is so vital in theatrical works. Race To Infinity creates this representation for so many different people, regardless of where they come from. The multitude of topics addressed within the play are what make it so unique. From the topic of racism to dealing with the immense pressures of society, this play showcases these issues and their long term effects on people of different backgrounds. Arellano crafted a story that handles these topics in such a way that forces the audience to listen and to be fully immersed into the world of the play. Race To Infinity is a play that encapsulates the unspoken narrative of many, and will forever be imprinted on the minds of viewers for years to come.

- Giselle Gutierrez