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Off Broadway

Miss You Like Hell Will Tug on Your Heart Strings

Miss You Like Hell Will Tug on Your Heart Strings

“I buried my face into her skin / And breathed her in / Can it happen again?”

Gizel Jiménez, Daphne Rubin-Vega

Gizel Jiménez and Daphne Rubin-Vega Photo by Joan Marcus

The Public Theater’s new musical by Quiara Alegría Hudes and Erin McKeown, Miss You Like Hell, is a timely musical that breaks ground. As the caravan of Central Americans are waiting at the boarders Miss You Like Hell tells the story of Beatriz (Daphne Rubin-Vega), an undocumented immigrant who shows up on the doorstep of her estranged daughter, Olivia (Gizel Jiménez), wanting her to join her on a cross-country road trip from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. Beatriz tells her daughter it is to bond and because she has been suicidal, but the fact is, Beatriz desperately needs a character witness to testify at her deportation hearing. Olivia agrees, not knowing the real reason. As Beatriz and Olivia go across the country in a beat-up truck they vent. On the drive, they must stop off in South Dakota, as Beatriz has to face marijuana charges she occurred when she was 19. Olivia makes the contingency that they must stop at Yellowstone for her. Along the way, they meet a gay couple (Michael Mulheren and David Patrick Kelly) renewing their vows in every state, and Manuel (a sensitive Danny Bolero), a man who lost his wife.

Lear deBessonet’s direction is clean, crisp and clear. The choreography by Danny Mefford keeps the piece moving and stylized. Riccardo Hernandez’s set design keep things simple, though honestly the turntable wasn’t really needed.

The music by Erin McKeown is new, interesting, and played extremely well by the six-piece band onstage. Ms. Hudes – who wrote the book for In the Heights and won a Pulitzer for Water by the Spoonful – knows how to make something touching without preaching. In no way is Beatriz a perfect person. She calls her daughter self-absorbed when she doesn’t want to help. The fact is, Beatriz is the one who is narcissistic. She says this knowing her daughter was suicidal. Beatriz lost Olivia in a custody battle and Olivia is furious that she gave up so easily. I also love the fact there is no mention of Donald Trump. The wall says it all.

In the end, it is Olivia’s love for Beatriz that breaks your heart. Immigration is a tough subject and there are concerns on either side. The fact is, this is a complicated issue and there are human feelings on both sides. I would love to see Miss You Like Hell move to Broadway or at least have a longer life. It deserves it.

Miss You Like Hell: Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St. Extended through May 13th.

 

Off Broadway

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

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