Meet the Playwright!

We recently had the opportunity to sit down and chat with the playwright of CARMELA FULL OF WISHES, Alvaro Saar Rios! Learn more about his journey as an artist, why he decided to adapt Carmela Full Of Wishes and what advice he has for young writers.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career.

I’m a Texican playwright living in Chicago. I create theatre for the young and the formerly young. I have been fortunate to create work for many organizations, including the Kennedy Center, Houston Grand Opera, Chicago Children’s Theatre and even the Milwaukee zoo. I’m also a veteran and the former singer of a death metal band that no one has ever heard of.

Why did you decide to write an adaptation of Carmela Full of Wishes? Were you familiar with the book prior to adapting it?

I was introduced to the book by Jacqui Russell, Artistic Director of Chicago Children’s Theatre She asked me about my thoughts on the story and its potential to be adapted for the stage. As I read it, I noticed how Carmela’s story paralleled my family’s story as well as the story of many American children. I also fell in love with the artwork. It was right then I knew I wanted to try to adapt the play for the stage. Since that day, the play has been presented in Chicago, Omaha, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Seattle, Houston and now New Jersey!

Prior to Carmela Full of Wishes, did you write other plays for young audiences?

I have been fortunate to have been writing theatre for young audiences for over 20 years. My most popular play is Luchadora! Just imagine the Chinese folktale “Mulan” set in the world of Mexican wrestling. That’s the story for Luchadora!

What was your 1st theatrical experience? (Audience member or performer) Tell us about it!

The 1st theatrical experience I can realistically talk about is the first time I saw one of my plays being produced in front of a live audience. I was a college student at the University of Houston. I still remember sitting in the audience surrounded by kids of all ages. I can still hear the laughter and gasps. I was really surprised that a story I had written could affect someone like that. I think that’s what kept me writing plays. I wanted to be able to connect with people of all ages.

If you could make a wish like Carmela, what would it be and why?

I wish this play could be seen by kids and families all over the world.

Think back to when you were 7 years old, what hopes and dreams did you have?

At 7, my hopes and dreams were to be a professional wrestler. I wanted to be powerful and mysterious like Mil Mascaras and The Junkyard Dog. Those guys were my superheroes and I wanted to be just like them.

What do you hope audiences will experience when they see Carmela Full of Wishes?

I hope they will see a part of themselves in the story. It could be as a sibling, a parent or even as someone who continues to have hope.

Why do you think theatre is important for young audiences?

First and foremost, I think young audiences are important to theatre because they are the future. But I think it’s important for young audiences to see & be involved in theatre because theatre is a way to have their story told. It’s a way to celebrate their uniqueness and creativity.

Any advice for a young person wanting to write plays?

Tell your story. Tell it often. Tell it in a way that only you know how to tell it. Create those characters that only you can come up with. Don’t worry about if it’s “good” or if it’s “right.” If you tell your story from your heart, it will be fabulous.

Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

I am currently creating a new adaptation of Pam Muñoz Ryan’s novel Esperanza Rising for Milwaukee’s First Stage. I am also creating a new play for Lexington Children’s Theatre as part of the national BIPOC Superhero Project. That play is currently titled Quetzali vs The Alebrije of Darknes: Live in the school cafeteria!

How can we learn more about you? Instagram: @realcrazymex

Carmela Full of Wishes runs February 2-18 with performances on Saturdays at 4:00PM and Sundays at 2:00PM and a special opening night performance on Friday, February 2nd at 7:00PM.

Ticketing System

  • Main Stage Performances are normally Saturdays at 4:00PM and Sunday at 2:00PM. Friday performances are on a limited basis at 7:30pm.
  • Studio Series Performances: Thursday/Friday at 7:30PM, Saturday at 4:00PM and Sunday at 2:00PM.
  • PLEASE NOTE: Local Flavor Coupons and Groupons cannot be redeemed online.  You must call the Box Office to reserve and redeem. Box Office is open daily Monday thru Friday from 10:30am to 3:00pm. Please call at least 24 hours prior to redeem.
  • Seating begins 30 minutes prior to each performance. If you select Will Call as your ticket delivery method, your tickets will be available for pick up starting an hour prior to the performance.
  • Seating is general admission except for season ticket holders and groups of 10 or more.
  • Sales are final and no refunds will be given unless the performance is cancelled. If you are unable to attend, please contact the Box Office and we will do our best to accommodate you at a different performance based on availability.
  • Concessions will be available for sale before the performance and during intermission. Outside food and drink is not allowed.
  • Parking is available in the bank parking lot next to the theatre (when the bank is closed), the park lot behind the bank lot, and on the surrounding streets. If needed, overflow parking is available at the Methodist Church down the street.
  • If you have any questions, please contact the Box Office at 973-347-4946 or and we will be happy to assist you.

    Group Sales (10 or more) are available by calling the Box Office at (973) 347-4946.

Please fill out this form to receive more information or call 973-347-4946

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