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'Miss You Like Hell' Brings Broadway Stars To La Jolla Playhouse

 Krystina Alabado (left) and Daphne Rubin-Vega star in "Miss You Like Hell," a new musical at La Jolla Playhouse, as a mother and daughter on a cross-country road trip. The play was written by Quiara Alegría Hudes.
Jim Carmody.
Krystina Alabado (left) and Daphne Rubin-Vega star in "Miss You Like Hell," a new musical at La Jolla Playhouse, as a mother and daughter on a cross-country road trip. The play was written by Quiara Alegría Hudes.

'Miss You Like Hell' Brings Broadway Stars To La Jolla Playhouse
"Miss You Like Hell" Brings Broadway Stars To La Jolla Playhouse GUEST: Quiara Alegría Hudes, writer, "Miss You Like Hell"

People argue about immigration issues and it makes big headlines from politicians. What about the real lives ruptured and the families pulled apart by failed immigration laws. One of those stories form the basis of a highly anticipated musical having a role premiere at La Jolla Playhouse. The play Miss You Like Hell revolves around a mother facing deportation who journeys across America with her teenage daughter. Joining me is Quiara Alegría Hudes . And the writer of Miss You Like Hell . Welcome to the program. Thank you. This musical has some of the origins and another play that you wrote 26 miles. Can you give us a set up of the story? That play was about and a strange mother and her daughter who been separated for number of years due to a custody decision. They get reunited and for various reasons have to get on the road and drive across the country. It is using this classic very American and very human trope of the journey and the road trip but with the spin on that it's women and a mother daughter and it's these things that though go together being smashed together and playing what that and exploring. This is a musical in fact you looked at this plate 26 miles and you thought that there was something wrong with it. You said that it needed to be put to music. Why is that? It is one of this strange realities. More commonly on that done. I've always just had a feeling that I just did not -- I thought every time I try with my husband on the New Jersey Turnpike we turn on the radio and it's a music that releases as the tension of traffic and the potholes and all of that stuff. It just became clear to us over the years that the elevation that the story was missing was music. That is how we relate to the road and about that would bring a level of Fantasia and rhythm and joint to what is serious and a centerpiece but also funny. The music for Miss You Like Hell is written by Erin McKeown I heard her albums and I fell in love with her voice. She plays with a lot of American musical idioms with a very light touch with deep respect and with very creative point of view. I thought if this mother and daughter are driving across the country, I want to be playing with American idioms. The other reason why I love her I bummed -- loved her albums -- people don't talk about them so much but you see the success of something like Hamilton where people are just overjoyed to hear things I have that amount of dexterity and life. I think lyrics can really help a musical. We have one of the musical songs . This is from over my shoulder and it is sung by Daphne Rubin-Vega . [ Music ] That is a song from Miss You Like Hell that was performed by KPBS.org nine. You visited French apart as you were work shopping. What did that inspire? Friendship park was new to me. As a place that was on the border and that people were allowed to visit very limited hours. I said let me go visit. Being there and speaking with the border patrol officials and speaking with the nonprofit organizations that were there doing all sorts of support and relief work and speaking with the individuals that were there to connect with friends and family across the border was so inspirational. Even the lyrics some of the lyrics over my shoulder is sort of reference the fact that this main character is always looking over her shoulder because she's here in the country illegally. You see the show is a record on the Obama presidency on issues like immigration. How so? In a very playful way. As we were writing it, there is a story about a family facing very real immigration process. There is also a story about two men in retirement would been together for 50 years and are taking a road trip and getting married. As we been writing a musical, which takes a long time, as we wrote the laws change. Will we started writing what these men were doing was going north from their hometown of Little Rock so that they could get married. All of a sudden gay marriage becomes federalized and why would they need to go on a road trip so we had a come up with these creative ways to still let their story and there tell be part of a road trip. We had to keep up with Obama in many ways. In other ways, we kept hoping that some immigration reform would pass that would make our particular story less relevant in the family when it face being ripped apart. That was a little -- it is ongoing issue that this country faces. How does this whole project taken on added importance in the context of this election season rhetoric? This season has in a painful one for many and a challenging one for many. There's been a lot of name-calling and I haven't seen that publicly for a long time. I think that this musical is about -- I have a lot of faith in the American people and in the goodness of them. This musical really tells that story and it is about a point of view that I have that there are kind strangers out there and courageous neighbors and that when people of good faith and good heart connect with each other, beautiful community can unfold. So I think this musical is the antidote in some ways to some of the more hateful rhetoric that is kind of exploded during this campaign. I am very happy. I think the musical offer some joy and humor and healing and a time that feels a little fractured. The world premiere of Miss You Like Hell runs through December 4 at La Jolla Playhouse. I've been speaking with Quiara Alegría Hudes. Thank you so much. That's my pleasure.

La Jolla Playhouse's latest musical has some of Broadway's top talent, both onstage and off.

"Miss You Like Hell" was written by Quiara Alegría Hudes, who also wrote the book for Lin-Manuel Miranda's "In the Heights" and won a Pulitzer Prize for her own play "Water By the Spoonful." It stars Daphne Rubin-Vega, who originated the role of Mimi in "Rent," as a mother facing deportation on a road trip across America with her teenage daughter. The New York Times called it "one of the most anticipated new musicals of the season to not have its premiere in New York."

The show also has songs by singer-songwriter Erin McKeown.

Hudes joins KPBS Midday Edition to discuss her writing process and getting inspired at Friendship Park at the border between San Diego and Playas de Tijuana.

"Now I'm Here" from La Jolla Playhouse's "Miss You Like Hell"

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