It doesn’t take a theater geek to know that if Latino representation on screen is bad, on the theatrical stage it doesn’t get much better. Of course, there’s no doubting the impact Latino creators like Lin-Manuela Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes have had on New York’s Broadway and other theatrical stages, particularly in recent years. Together both producers created the Tony-winning musical “In The Heights,” and separately Miranda created the much beloved “Hamilton.” Both works granted Latinos and other people of color immense opportunities beneath the stage lights. Still, this year, the newest and biggest shows of the theatrical season (“Mean Girls,” “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Frozen” among them) are noticeably very white, not just in their casting but in storylines and themes as well.
Fortunately, a play by Alegría is giving audiences an opportunity to see a raw Latina story right on stage.
‘Miss You Like Hell’ is the off-Broadway Latina-centric musical the theatrical world can’t stop singing about.
Long before DREAMers and chants to “build a wall” became part of the country’s daily political discussions, Hudes, the daughter of a Puerto Rican mother, was just coming off the success of her 2008 musical “In The Heights.” Building on her momentum, she completed the book for “Miss You Like Hell’ in 2012 and ultimately saw its premiere four years later at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego.
This spring, the production has kicked off once again and stars Broadway veteran Daphne Rubin-Vega and Gizel Jiménez and it’s hitting the stage with topics and matters that are even more relevant in today’s political climate. Both Rubin Vega and Jiménez play a mother and daughter pair. Rubin-Vega is Beatriz a mother who left her 16-year-old half-Latina daughter Olivia (Jiménez) four years ago and arrives on her doorstep to invite her on a weeklong road trip. Unbeknownst to Olivia, her mother has motives that stretch beyond their mother/daughter cross-country journey: Beatriz, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, needs her daughter to testify at her immigration hearing in order to keep herself from being deported.
The New York Times said in a review of the play that “it offers two seriously rich roles for women.”
The play’s themes intimately touch on the DREAMer and undocumented immigrant experience.
While various parts of the undocumented immigrant’s story are explored, reviews around the play have largely touched on scenarios documented immigrants and U.S. citizen easily shrugged off as minor incidents. From minor traffic infractions to anxiety Latina youth “Miss You Like Hell” dives into these looming fears head first.