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Carnegie hosts world premiere of The Super Cilantro Girl
The Carnegie Arts Center is showing the LightBox Theatre production of The Super Cilantro Girl starring Zoe Muoz as Esmerelda and Gabriel Muoz as Juanito. - photo by Photo by Marty Bicek/Bicek Photography

An original play about a family of migrant workers, based in the Central Valley, will hit the stage at the Carnegie Arts Center for a two-week run beginning tonight as LightBox Theatre Company presents “The Super Cilantro Girl.”


The production, which kicks off LightBox Theatre Company’s second season, is based on the works of U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera. Herrera recently visited the area and was the Carnegie Arts Center’s keynote speaker as part of its centennial celebration.


“The Super Cilantro Girl,” written by Stanislaus State Professor Arnold Anthony Schmidt, is based on Herrera’s children’s books “Calling the Doves,” “The Upside Down Boy,” and “Super Cilantro Girl.”


LightBox Theatre Company co-founders Stefani Tsai and Eric Broadwater are directing and designing the production, respectively. The play features local actors from the community and recent Stanislaus State graduates.


 “The Super Cilantro Girl” revolves around the lives of a family of migrant workers: 12-year-old Esmeralda, her younger brother Juanito, Papi, and Mamá. After years on the road, full of hard work and adventures, the family can finally settle down.  Now the children must attend new schools, learn a new language, and find their places in the world.  Along the way, they discover the power of words and the imagination, as well as the importance of their Mexican-American heritage and its place in California’s Central Valley.


“We are fortunate to be able to work with Dr. Schmidt and Mr. Herrera in presenting this original production to our young audiences,” Tsai said. “One of our missions is to produced adaptations of children’s literature and to develop new works that reflect the history, stories, and culture of our diverse community. ‘The Super Cilantro Girl’ definitely does all of that.”


The play, targeted for young audiences, will run from Friday through Oct. 23 at the Loft Theatre at the Carnegie Arts Center in Downtown Turlock. Shows are at 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Oct. 21, and 22; 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19 and 23. Tickets are $12 general admission, $10 for Carnegie Arts Center members, and $8 for children under 12 years old and students with valid identifications.