Once again, Creative Cauldron is breaking new ground by launching its 2023-2024 season with the East Coast premiere of “Monarch: A Mexican American Musical.” This is a new work that examines the experiences of undocumented Mexican immigrants in the United States and the hardships they encounter in a society that forces them into the shadows.
…breaking new ground…a vital contribution to the ongoing work for a more just immigration system while also accomplishing art’s highest calling—to raise the awareness and empathy of the people it touches.
Directed by Matt Conner and Mayu Molina Lehmann (who also co-wrote the book and lyrics with Alfonso Molina), the musical tells the story of Luis (Marco Salazar), an undocumented Mexican man living in the United States where he has raised his daughter, Ana (Gretchen Midgley). Even Ana’s status as a DREAMER cannot protect them from an unjust system and the corrupt immigration officials determined to have them deported.
The musical score (music by Alfonso Molina and music direction by Merissa Driscoll) is unique in that it does not accompany the singers in a traditional fashion but rather provides a grounding of sound on which to bring to life the sung-through piece. Notable singers include Lizzie Bartlett (Amanda) who sings poignantly as a young mother not wanting to leave her home in Mexico, and the story’s villain, Officer Castello (José Juan Hernández), whose powerful tenor fills the intimate space.
The cast also boasts dynamic actors. Justin P. López plays a sympathetic immigration officer (Officer Wright) whose conscience catches up with him as well as a haunting and wise Oyamel Spirit. Gretchen Midgley gracefully communicates Ana’s struggle to find peace in her precarious existence. Marco Salazar embodies the hope and resilience that Luis, a proud father, carries through years of hardship as an undocumented immigrant. A young Marco Romero (Child) adds a burst of innocence and charm to the narrative.
Projections Designer James Morrison fills a plain, white background with immigrant protest marches, graffiti-filled city walls, and a kaleidoscope of fluttering Monarch butterflies. Scenic Designer Margie Jervis placed a few simple props on the stage to suggest a workplace, home, and hangout. This also allows the space necessary to accommodate large dance numbers. Memorable costumes, also by Jervis, include trendy and colorful outfits, a ghostly veil, and Oyamel Spirit’s fantastical regalia.
By providing a glimpse into the lives of people for whom U.S. immigration policy is more than merely a newspaper article or a news clip, “Monarch: A Mexican American Musical” makes a vital contribution to the ongoing work for a more just immigration system while also accomplishing art’s highest calling—to raise the awareness and empathy of the people it touches.
Run Time: One hour and 30 minutes with one 15-minute intermission.
“Monarch: A Mexican American Musical” runs through October 29, 2023, at Creative Cauldron, 410 South Maple Avenue, Falls Church, VA 22046. For more information and to purchase tickets, go online.