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World premiere of “The Super Cilantro Girl” opens Friday

TURLOCK — 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 Friday night 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 Dr. 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 Oct. 14 through Oct. 23 at the Loft Theatre at the Carnegie Arts Center in Downtown Turlock.

Last October, LightBox Theatre Company made its debut on the local theatre scene with its presentation of “Bunnicula” before a follow-up this past April with “The Reluctant Dragon.” Each production attracted more than 700 people attending public or school performances.