Mother-Daughter Connection: T2 musical is a journey toward reconciliation

Mother-Daughter Connection: T2 musical is a journey toward reconciliation
April Wallace
awallace@gmoore

Summer is a great time to take a road trip. Unless it’s an unexpected one — with your mother — whom you haven’t seen in years.

“Miss You Like Hell” is a new musical at TheatreSquared that features a non-traditional mother-daughter duo, Beatriz and Olivia, as they reconnect while making their way across the country and meeting many people along the way. It opened at the beginning of the month and will run through July 10.

When the curtain rises, the two have been estranged for a long time and are living on opposite sides of the country, but Beatriz (the mom) has been able to keep an eye on her teenage daughter Olivia through her blog. It’s there that she sees something unusual that sets off all her maternal alarms.

“Beatriz knows something is wrong and that it’s not regular ‘teen behavior,’” says Francisca Munoz, who plays Beatriz. Munoz appeared in two previous TheatreSquared shows, “American Mariachi” and “Tiny Beautiful Things.” “She sees something concerning and really needs to check on her to see what’s happening and mend a relationship that’s very broken.”

At the beginning, you might wonder whether Beatriz is just a bad mom who simply isn’t there for her daughter but that, Munoz says, is just the start of the journey. Along the way, audiences will discover so much more that explains their estrangement. Not unlike a real-life road trip, you’ll be sure to learn a lot about these people while stuck in the car with them, so to speak.

Janyce Caraballo, who plays Olivia, says she’s never seen a mother-daughter story quite like this one. That’s why she wanted the part so badly.

“It’s unique to see a mom who’s not part of her daughter’s life and what does it look like to reconcile?” Caraballo says. “It’s such a great story about family that we’re born with and the blood that connects us and the found family of folks we’ll meet along the way.”

Now Caraballo takes very seriously the charge to portray Olivia in all her complexities, to do her justice. She’s young and full of life, but also knowledgeable and wise beyond her years.

One thing that makes the pair’s interactions riveting, she and Munoz agree, are the very obvious similarities between them even as they work through disputes.

“They’re both very headstrong women,” but also a little broken, Munoz says. Beatriz feels strongly about forming a connection with her daughter by sharing their cultural background, since she’s proud of her heritage and traditions. “The background of her story is not new — undocumented immigrants in search of a better life — I’ve been in shows with those characters. But this relationship is special because of the mother-daughter connections and what happens along the way that gets them to see each other and accept each other for who they are in the end.”

Munoz shares those qualities of feeling motherly to a certain extent while also being a free spirit who is rooted in her traditions.

Caraballo meanwhile identifies with Olivia’s love of reading, saying a couple of the production’s songs are centered on the authors and books that her character is obsessed with. She and her character both like to use reading as a way to escape reality.

She expects that audiences will be able to relate to the complicated relationship that Olivia has with her mother.

“A lot of folks have (that), to have so much love for a mother but also have some blocks in the way to really discover who we are and be authentic,” Caraballo says.

“Miss You Like Hell” places mental health in the spotlight with discussions of self-harm and suicide, and that’s what Caraballo thinks makes the story particularly incredible. She’s modeling through her character that it’s OK to ask for help and reach out to other people when you need it.

“We talk about being rafts, separate in the ocean, but Olivia says we aren’t in separate boats, we’re all in the ocean, all in this together,” Caraballo says. “You realize that you’re never really alone.”

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FAQ

‘Miss You Like Hell’

WHEN— 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. weekend matinees through July 10

WHERE— TheatreSquared, 477 W. Spring St. in Fayetteville

COST— $15-$61

INFO— theatre2.org

Categories: Cover Story