¡Feliz cumpleaños! It’s Carmela’s birthday, and she’s finally old enough to tag along with her big brother while he runs errands. Join them as they pass by the fenced-off repair shop, the busy bus stop, and Miss Maria’s verdulería. Outside the laundromat, Carmela picks a dandelion and makes several birthday wishes: that she gets a candy machine, a big fancy bed for Mamí like the ones at the hotel where she works, and most importantly, that Papí will be able to come back home soon. When a sudden accident crushes her dandelion before she can make her biggest wish, can her brother help Carmela believe in the power of wishes once again?
Adapted by Alvaro Saar Rios
From the book by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Directed by Tatyana-Marie Carlo
Carmela Full of Wishes is presented through special arrangement with and all authorized performance materials are supplied by TRW Plays; 1180 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 640, New York, NY 10036. www.trwplays.com
About the Show
- Carmela Full of Wishes is performed by a small cast of adults and students. It is based on the picture book written by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson- the same duo who brought us Last Stop on Market Street!
- This production takes place on our Cargill Stage, which seats up to 298 people per performance.
- We know that teachers are the best judge to determine the right fit for their unique group of students. We recommend Carmela Full of Wishes for students in Preschool-Grade 4.
Language: 0 out of 5 stars
Carmela and her family use a mixture of Spanish and English vocabulary.
Themes and Situations: 1 out of 5 stars
Carmela is worried about her father who has to live far away until his immigration papers are corrected. Carmela makes fun of Big Brother’s stinky boxers while doing the laundry.
Violence & Scariness: 0 out of 5 stars
Carmela falls on her scooter and gets hurt.
Sensory Advisories: 1 out of 5 stars
Carmela’s wishes are portrayed through stage magic. Carmela asks the audience to close their eyes, the theatre goes completely dark, and when students open their eyes, the theatre is lit with a disco ball.
Potentially Anxious Moments: 1 out of 5 stars
Actors may interact with audience members. Carmela worries about her father. Big Brother is sometimes mean to Carmela and leaves her behind. Carmela worries she has lost her brother when she gets distracted on their walk.
This is a complete synopsis of the play, so it is full of spoilers.
As audience members arrive, they see Carmela, a 7-year-old child, riding her worn scooter around the space. She may stop to interact with students. We learn that it is Carmela’s birthday!
Her mother and brother join her onstage and sing her “Happy Birthday!” in Spanish. She blows out her candles, which are placed into her morning pancakes. They encourage her to make a wish but she exclaims that her wish has already come true because today she is now old enough to go to the laundromat with her older brother. They hand her a present with a card on top. She opens the card and reads it aloud. It is signed by Mamí, Papí, and Big Brother. This excites Carmela because her father has been gone for a long time, but Mamí admits that she signed Papí’s name for him. Carmela unwraps a set of beautiful new bracelets. When she wears them, they jingle on her wrists. This sound delights Carmela but annoys Big Brother. Mamí encourages Big Brother to appreciate his sister, as she always wanted a sister when she was younger. Mamí reminds Big Brother to do his chores and comments on how similar he is to his father.
Carmela asks to go outside and play with her scooter, which Mamí allows, with a reminder to stay away from the busy streets. Mamí hugs Carmela and wishes her a happy birthday on her way out the door.
Carmela zooms down the road on her scooter. She rides down the sidewalk and comments on how smooth and fast she can ride. Then, she rides along a dirt path and feels how bumpy the road is. At last, she is at her favorite place: the marigold field! She loves the smell of flowers but it is sometimes hard to separate the smell of flowers from the smell of manure that also fills the air. She waves to the friends she sees along the way. Señor Lopez stops to wish her a happy birthday. They bond over their love of marigolds and papas con huevo. She gives him one of her birthday bracelets to take home to his daughter, Natalia.
Carmela heads back home where she sees her brother getting ready to go to the laundromat with a cart full of dirty laundry. Big Brother tries to escape without bringing Carmela but she argues that she already made her birthday wish and it came true. Big Brother argues that not all wishes come true which causes Carmela to become upset and call for Mamí. Mamí tells Big Brother to apologize and bring Carmela with him to the laundromat. This frustrates Big Brother but he has resigned to his fate and drags her along.
On their way out the door, Carmela worries that Papí will try to call while she is gone and she won’t get to talk to him. Mamí assures her that he will likely not be able to call while she is out and the pair leave for the laundromat.
Big Brother is much too fast for Carmela and she struggles to keep up, even on her scooter. They pass many different shops and stands on their way. Carmela stops to greet everyone but can’t stop for long or she will lose her brother. She greets the corn seller, the flower seller, and an older woman with a multi-colored cane. They pass a big tree with many men standing around it. Carmela remembers that her Papí used to stand under the same tree and wait for work each morning. Carmela wonders what her father is doing right now. She lists all the things she will tell him the next time he is able to call. Big Brother is silent, and we get the feeling he knows something that Carmela doesn’t.
Finally, they arrive at the laundromat. Just then, Carmela spots a dandelion and decides to pick it. Just as she is bringing it up to her mouth to blow all the puffs off, her brother stops her and reminds her to make a wish. Carmela pretends like she already made a wish so her brother wouldn’t poke fun at her but in reality, she didn’t know you could make a wish on dandelions. Her mind fills up with all the things she could wish for. She laments that her brother used to be nicer when Papí was around and bemoans all the wishes she has wasted blowing on dandelions in the past.
She is taking too long to make her wish so her brother leaves her to go inside and start laundry. She follows him inside and keeps her dandelion close until she decides what to wish for. She is mesmerized by the people, sounds, and sights in this new place. Big Brother encourages her to drop the flower so she can help with laundry, but Carmela is insistent that she can help, even with only one hand while the other holds her dandelion.
Big Brother leaves her alone while he goes to get quarters. She pulls out a pair of his smelly boxers and comments on how gross they are. When he comes back, Big Brother is embarrassed. He becomes aggravated and tells her to sit down while he does all the work.
Carmela leaves her brother to walk around the laundromat and absorb all the sights. She finds somewhere to sit and brainstorms more wishes. As she brainstorms, the daydreams come to life onstage. She debates wishing that her brother will be nicer to her and daydreams about all the games she could play with him if he was nicer. She could wish for a new scooter or a new washer for Mamí. Just then, Big Brother interrupts her daydream and lets her know the laundry is done.
They leave the laundromat but instead of heading home, her brother turns to head toward the grocery store. Carmela is concerned but Big Brother assures her that Mamí told them to stop and that it won’t take long. Again, Carmela greets everyone she passes and tells them it is her birthday. She becomes very excited when she sees a person selling ice cream and popsicles. She looks at all the different flavors and tries to yell for her brother. But when she turns around, she cannot find him. She begins to panic when he suddenly reappears. She asks to have an ice cream but her brother says no.
Big Brother is walking very fast and Carmela is having a hard time keeping up. She worries that going any faster will cause her dandelion to blow away. Big Brother becomes frustrated and comments that this is why he didn’t want her to come.
They finally arrive at the vegetable stand. Carmela asks what they need to buy but her brother won’t tell her. He reminds her that she needs to hurry or she might miss Papí’s call at home. She is suspicious and confronts her brother but he skirts past her to enter the grocery store alone. Carmela waits outside and looks at all the brightly colored foods in the window. Again, she brainstorms all the possible wishes she could use her dandelion for. She dreams of having a colorful shop of her own full of everything she loves, like candy and chocolate and lollipops!
Suddenly, Big Brother reappears from the shop and interrupts her daydreaming. She is excited to head home but her brother tells her they aren’t going home yet. He asks why she still has the dandelion and comments that he would wish for a really fast car.
Carmela stops walking suddenly because she thinks she hears Papí’s song. Big Brother comments that he didn’t hear it at all and Carmela giggles because Big Brother is starting to sound like Papí. He becomes sad thinking about Papí and worries because he hasn’t called in a long time. Carmela is confident that Papí will call because it’s her birthday! Big Brother is clearly doubtful and continues walking.
They arrive at the locksmith shop. The walls are covered with keys and locks and other shiny things. Brother tells her that they need an extra copy of their key and encourages her to look around for a while while he stands in line. Again, she begins to daydream of all the things she could wish for, including a fancy bed for Mamí. We see her daydream come to life onstage as she jumps on the bed.
Big Brother interrupts the daydream and tells her it is time to go to the bodega. Carmela remembers that there is a cat who lives at the bodega but her legs are getting tired from their long journey. They need to hurry to make it before the shop closes. Big Brother runs ahead and tells Carmela to stop at the shop with the green door. Carmela is scared to be left all alone and wants to chase after him but worries about her dandelion. She keeps a careful eye out for the green door.
Finally, Carmela makes it to the bodega and goes inside. She walks around the store and points out all her favorite candies. Big Brother warns that they are not buying any candy. Carmela becomes frustrated and yells at her brother for leaving her. She tells him that she is going to tell Papí how mean he is to her. Big Brother comments that Papí is not going to call, which he instantly regrets saying. He sees the hurt on Carmela’s face and tries to correct his statement by saying that Papí isn’t going to call while they are gone but they need to hurry home just in case.
Big Brother goes back to shopping and tells Carmela to stay in one spot so he knows where to find her when he is finished shopping. She doesn’t listen and begins to explore. She finds the deodorant section and finds the one that smells like her Papí. The smell takes her back to her imagination but then she becomes sad because she realizes that their house doesn’t smell like Papí’s deodorant anymore. She decides to wish for Papí to come home and daydreams about reuniting with him. In her imagination, she hugs her father and he assures her that his papers are fixed so he will never have to leave again. He sings to her and she tells him all about her day.
The bodega cat breaks Carmela out of her daydream. She pets the cat and comments on how she can feel her sadness go away. Big Brother joins them and was clearly worried that he lost Carmela since she didn’t stay where she was told to stay. Carmela thinks her brother is going to yell at her for wandering but he doesn’t. They both pet the cat while Big Brother tells her they have one more stop left before heading home.
They pass all kinds of shops on their way including a bike shop. Carmela debates about wishing for a new bike but decides against it. The shops turn into houses and Carmela is in awe over a pair of shoes hanging on a power line. A man is working on his car in the street and Carmela is convinced he is Papí. Big Brother knows it is not Papí and keeps walking.
They finally arrive at a big house which confuses Carmela. Brother announces that it is his friend’s house who has lots of video games and is going to let brother borrow one. Carmela is heartbroken and confused. This is why Big Brother has been dragging her around all day. Carmela is angry and accuses him of lying to her. He points out that she lies to him so it is fair. She is going to argue that she never lies but then remembers lying to him about the dandelion and saying she knew she could make a wish when she didn’t. He tells her to stay outside with the cart.
While he is inside, Carmela begins to daydream about turning her brother into a rat or a roach. She decides not to waste her wish on revenge and thinks about wishing for a puppy, more bracelets to share with her friends, or a sister who might not be as mean to her. She worries about making the wrong choice when her brother returns.
They finally make their way home and Big Brother is rushing her just like before. Carmella chases after him when her scooter flips over and she falls to the ground, taking her dandelion with her. She tries very hard not to cry even though she is clearly in pain. Big Brother is worried about her and comes to comfort her. Suddenly, she realizes that, in the fall, all the wishes got knocked off her dandelion and she begins to cry. Big Brother takes her in his arms and tells her he is going to show her something special. He promises that he will not trick her or leave her again. He leads her to the edge of a cliff overlooking the water. She closes her eyes to listen to the sound of the waves and makes a wish. When she opens her eyes, the sky is full of dandelion wishes. Big Brother explains that the family used to go to this field a lot when Carmela was really little and that Papí used to make wishes for them in the field before they were born. Carmela starts to tell her brother what she wished for, but he stops her: if she tells her wishes, they won’t come true.
As they start to leave, Carmela turns back to get one last look. They talk about how they miss their father. Big Brother pulls a mango lollipop out of his pocket for Carmela. She asks if he really thinks Papí will call and he assures her that he will.
They head home, hand in hand.
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