Karmine Alers plays Beatriz in Miss You Like Hell, a musical about an undocumented mother reconnecting with her 15 year old daughter on a road trip across the United States. In this interview, Karmine reflects on her connection with this character and the production process.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Spanish Harlem in New York City. My parents are from Puerto Rico, so I’m a Nuyorican.
How do you relate to Beatriz?
I can relate to Beatriz in the way that she is such a free spirit, has a ton of energy and is tenacious. As I mature in life, I notice that part of me is expanding in a good way.
How are you different from her?
Our differences are more literal. I’m not a mother, and I have the privilege of being a citizen of the US. So there is no fear of deportation. She also seems to have a pretty good sense of direction on this road trip (which I don’t have).
Can you describe the mother daughter relationship/connection between Beatriz and Olivia?
Their relationship is a strained one for sure. Four years have passed and there was no contact between them. This has Olivia feeling abandoned and angry, while Beatriz wants to step right in and pick up where she left off. Both are wanting to be heard and understood by the other. Ultimately, they both have a longing for unconditional love and forgiveness.
What motivates Beatriz to drive to Philly and bring Olivia on the road trip?
Beatriz has been absent for four years. Yet she still kept tabs on her daughter, Olivia, via a blog she writes. One day, Olivia writes about how she’s thinking about committing suicide. Beatriz feels that her own absence in Olivia’s life may have contributed to her depression. She sets out on a mission to help Olivia find her own strength and worth in the world.
What is your favorite song in Miss You Like Hell?
I love “Over My Shoulder” for its musical moodiness, storytelling and poetic lyrics.
What is your favorite moment or line in the show?
My favorite moment happens when we arrive in Yellowstone and Beatriz is talking to Olivia. The line is ”Mira palla, hundreds of Bison and your sulking como un Grinch.” I love the humor and Spanglish in that sentence. It is reminiscent of the conversations I had with my family growing up. I equally love the moment Olivia hugs Beatriz back after “Dance with Me.” It feels like such a resolve for both characters; a moment every mother and daughter should have.
Why should audiences come to see Miss You Like Hell?
It’s an extremely great piece of art, beautifully directed by Lisa Portes (a Latina mother of a teenage girl herself). It’s a show for all to see regarding the relationship between a parent and childwith the topic of immigration at the center of it. Although this show is set in 2014, it is even more relevant to the way of the world now. It’s heart wrenching, cleverly written, comedic, entertaining and eye opening. With a kick-ass cast!
What has been the most rewarding part of this process?
It has been such a great and deep process. I am truly grateful for getting to know these characters and portraying the different shades of Beatriz. I did research in watching documentaries on the undocumented in the States which focused on families that have or are still dealing with this issue. I also worked with a dialect coach on some of the dialogue. It also made me dig into my own relationship with my mom and our mother/daughter dynamic. And that relationship was not always easy. But, most parent child relationships aren’t at times.
My mom was my constant, and I dedicate my performance to her every night.