The production “marks the historic collaboration between the Mariachi Program in the NMSU Music Department (under the direction of Ken Tanuz), the NMSU Art Department and the NMSU Theatre Department,” said the play’s director, Monica Mojica, who is part of the Theatre Department faculty.
“The magical story centers around 7-year-old Carmela, who finds a dandelion on her birthday and compiles a list of wishes. Her mother and older brother are struggling to keep their family together after their father is deported,” Mojica said. “This is a journey tale that embraces magic realism and weaves a tapestry of hope that is certain to resonate with our diverse community.”
The cast includes Karen Shaw as Carmela, Carlos Huereca as Big Brother, Dominick Zimmerman as Papi and Eva Cullen as Mami.
“I feel lucky to play this role,” said Carlos Huereca, who plays Big Brother. Mojica “has trust in us and we have trust in her,” said Huereca, who is performing in his first play at NMSU. The part of Big Brother, he said, is “like playing a younger version of myself. I understand what he went through. I see why he is the way he is.”
“it’s been very eye-opening to play a carefree kid,” Shaw said. “Her innocence is tainted by the real world. I feel for her.”
The play has an important message for children, who can “see they are not alone,” she said. “It’s a good play for kids, and also good for the adults.”
Mami is “a feisty and sassy young mom,” Cullen said. She is struggling to support her children financially and emotionally after their father is taken away, and “puts a lot of pressure on herself.
“It’s a children’s show,” she said, but will also appeal to adults.
“Hopefully, people will laugh and cry,” she said.
“It’s been so fun” being a part of the production, said Cullen, who has performed in multiple plays at NMSU and other Las Cruces theatre venues.
Being in the play “has been a great experience,” said Zimmerman, who is performing in his first play at NMSU. His character, the father, is only in one scene, but his presence is felt throughout the play “as a shadow,” Zimmerman said.
That scene is very emotional, he said.
“I felt genuine sadness saying goodbye to Carmela,” Zimmerman said.
Tickets are $5 to $10 for the one-hour show, which has no intermission. The performance will be followed by a public reception hosted by the nonprofit American Southwest Theatre Company on the Center for the Arts’ outdoor patio. You can meet the play’s cast and crew during the reception, which is open to everyone.
The script was adapted by Alvaro Suar Rios from the book written by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson. The book, written in 2018, is a New York Times bestseller. The stage play had its world premiere in Chicago in 2022.
In addition to the single public performance, the cast will perform “Carmela Full of Wishes” as a free gift for thousands of Las Cruces Public Schools students, said Theatre Department Head Wil Kilroy.
For tickets, call the box office at 575-646-4515 or visit theatre.nmsu.edu/ and click on the “Carmela Full of Wishes” poster.
On Facebook, visit NMSU Theatre Arts/American Southwest Theatre Company.