This holiday season, fans of the 2002 film Real Women Have Curves, starring a then-unknown America Ferrera, have a new reason to celebrate.
The American Repertory Theater, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is gearing up for the world premiere of Real Women Have Curves: The Musical, “a new musical about life’s unexpected curves.”
Spearheaded by Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Sergio Trujillo, from the Broadway hits like Jersey Boys and Guys and Dolls.
“Part of my affinity for Real Women Have Curves is a desire to pay homage to the women—to our mothers, our aunts, our cousins, our friends—who have given us so much,” Trujillo tells Playbill. “I want the Latino community, the brown community to see themselves in these stories. My experience as the son of undocumented immigrants inspires me to do justice to our community.”
Written by Josefina López, the 1993 screenplay weaves the complexities of cultural identity and personal aspirations.
Here’s the musical’s synopsis: It’s the summer of 1987 in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, and after eighteen years under the roof of her immigrant parents, Ana is ready to spread her wings. Her dreams of college and a career in New York City are bursting at the seams, but her family’s expectations would keep her home working at their garment factory. Is it worth sacrificing the dreams of her family, who have sacrificed everything for her?
“‘Real Women Have Curves’ offered a glimpse into a world that was relatable to so many: the financial considerations for a working-class family, a complicated mother-daughter relationship, a first-generation Mexican-American teen with dreams of going to college in New York City,” Luz Media writes.
Ferrera still looks back fondly at the role and the movie that launched her career.
“My career started with Real Women Have Curves, which, at the time, I would have done a cookie commercial if they offered one to me,” Ferrera jokes. “But this beautiful project came to me, and I was just doing it because I was getting to act.
“… I saw the power that film had to connect people in so many different walks of life … you have an elderly Jewish man saying ‘That’s my mother’ or you have an older Middle Eastern woman saying ‘That’s like me.’”
“The power and catharsis that the audience could get from this film is something I had experienced as an audience member, but never on the other side,” Ferrera adds.
The Latina cast of the new musical include Lucy Godínez as Ana, with Shelby Acosta as Prima Flaca, Satya Chávez as Izel, and Florencia Cuenca as Estela, to name a few.
Behind the scenes, the musical features an original score by Grammy Award-winning recording artist Joy Huerta (from the Mexican pop duo Jesse&Joy) and Fred Ebb Award winner Benjamin Velez (Kiss My Aztec, The Tempest).
“The night Kamala Harris was named candidate for Vice President I understood why this story should be revisited today,” says Real Women Have Curves’ book’s Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Lisa Loomer. “We are living in a moment of BIPOC women truly coming into power, and in each of their acceptance speeches, they thank their immigrant mothers. This musical is about that relationship, the complications of being the daughter of an immigrant mother. In a sense, it is about how a young woman becomes a Kamala Harris or an AOC. And it’s full of the passion, pain, desires, conflicts — and humor — that beg to be musicalized.”
Real Women Have Curves: The Musical begins performances at the Loeb Drama Center in Harvard Square, Cambridge on Wednesday, December 6, opens officially on Thursday, December 14, 2023, and runs through Sunday, January 21, 2024.
Tickets from $35 are available at AmericanRepertoryTheater.org/RealWomenHaveCurves.
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