With just days left before Miss You Like Hell opens, we decided to interview Artistic Manager Matt FitzGerald in our cast and production team interview series. Matt FitzGerald has been the Artistic Manager at Patio Playhouse since 2017 and is the producer of Miss You Like Hell. He is an award-winning director, actor and designer. Matt graduated from SDSU in 2004 with a B.A. in Music. He is also the Associate Production Manager at North Coast Repertory Theater, a BSA Cubmaster and (most importantly) a father of two. Read on to hear more about Matt’s thoughts on Miss You Like Hell.
Why do you think this story is so impactful overall?
I think that the story of Miss You Like Hell resonates so strongly in San Diego is that there are so many people who have similar stories or know someone with a similar story. But beyond that, at it’s core the show is about connecting with someone you love and how important it is to fight for them.
Tell us more about the decision to tell a story like Miss You Like Hell. What drew you to this show and why now?
I am always on the lookout for shows that speak to a diverse community and tell diverse stories. I’ve long been a fan of Quiara Alegría Hudes’ work and this show is no exception. The story is so impactful and as I shared it with what would later become the production team for this show, I was moved by how invested they were in telling this story, that resonated so deeply with them. I think this show is especially relevant now as immigration has become a leading topic politically on a national level, and anything we can do to humanize the players involved in that political struggle is good for the national discourse.
What changes can the audience expect to see from this production if they’ve previously attended other productions of the same musical?
This show was originally produced at the La Jolla Playhouse in 2016 but went through many changes when it moved to New York and was produced at The Public Theatre in 2018. There were changes in the music and some characters removed to tighten up the story and make it more impactful. I think it is enlightening to see the development process for shows and I hope that the audiences who saw the original will come see what changes were made to the production.
This will mark the first time that this show has been done in Escondido – why is the location important?
This is the first time the show has been performed in Escondido (and I believe the first time the show has returned to San Diego since its world-premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse). I think staging it in a majority-minority city like Escondido will help bring the story to the people who will resonate with it. Escondido has a strong Latine arts community and we are excited to be a part of that tradition with this production.
Who do you think will appreciate and relate to this story?
I truly think that anyone with an empathetic heart will love this show. Despite their flaws and foibles, the characters care deeply for each other and regardless of the cause of their difficult situation, you can’t help but hope that they will make it through to find the peace and happiness that they deserve.
What are you most hoping that the audience takes away from this production?
I am hoping that by attending this production of Miss You Like Hell, the audience will come away with a deeper understanding of some of the people most affected by our immigration policies. Regardless of where you stand on the policies themselves, finding empathy for people affected by them will only help the audience grow as people, and that is the highest goal of theater arts.
Audiences wanting to see more can book their tickets now for Miss You Like Hell, opening July 30.