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Seattle Children’s Theatre presents Luchadora!

A true story that will inspire the whole family

Seattle Children’s Theatre presents “Luchadora!” a dazzling production that celebrates the incredible strength and spirit that define women of all ages. Currently running through March 17, this production is wonderful for elementary and middle school kids who will be mesmerized by the action-packed choreography, thrilling storyline, and endearing performances.


Photo by Truman Buffett

A Mexican Mulan adaptation

Inspired by the Chinese legend Hua Mulan, who, to many, represents female courage and perseverance, “Luchadora!” tells the story of Nana Lupita (Jordi Montes), a Washington grandmother who is transported back in her memories when her spirited granddaughter Vanessa (Beth Pollack) finds a pink mask and asks about its origins. This leads Nana Lupita to narrate the incredible true story.

Photo by Truman Buffett

As a young girl coming of age in 1960s Texas, Vanessa (portrayed by Pollack in these jump-back-in-time sequences) worked alongside her beloved father (Carter Rodriquez) at his flower stand. She and her friends Liesl (Adria Lamorticella) and Leo (James Schilling) love riding their bikes around the small town. Their favorite haunt is the shop belonging to the mask maker (Ana Maria Campoy), the primary provider of costumes for Mexican wrestlers known as luchadors. Lucha libre, the style of professional wrestling that originated in Mexico, is a popular sport in their circle. The fights often become the talk of the town.

While making a special delivery, Lupita discovers the contents of her father’s case and the incredible family secret they contain: he is a famous luchador who has recently been challenged to fight in a World Championship match. Distressed by the thought of her ailing father, whose back regularly gives out on him entering the ring against a healthy opponent, Lupita convinces the magic mask maker to train her into a luchador of her own. She is eager to take her father’s place, maintain her family’s dignity and prove that women are just as tough as men.


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You Go, Girl!

Though it is undoubtedly a more mature production, nothing is unsettling or fear-inducing that would prevent most kids from enjoying the show. What I particularly enjoyed about it was its emphasis on the female characters and the fact that their gender did not hold them back. Liesl is shown as a skilled bike mechanic. She’s smart, inventive, resourceful, and talented overall on jobs that require working with her hands.

Her sister Hannah, who we learn has run away through other character anecdotes, is shown in several asides and sketched out for audiences through her letters home. Her interests are “masculine-leaning”, like playing football. She also enlists in the army and is deployed to fight in the war. Though she dies in combat, her letters explain how she proved her male colleagues wrong and demonstrated how strong women can be. These minor but important points could have lasting impacts on impressionable female viewers.

Photo by Truman Buffett

Lupita is a particularly charming and fascinating protagonist, and both Montes and Pollack perfectly convey her wit, strength and heart through their dazzling performances. My daughter was captivated by the concept of a girl like her working hard to achieve something and defying the adults in her life who only wanted to hold her back.

Playwright Alvaro Saar Rios also penned the adaptation of “Carmela Full of Wishes,” which came through SCT last season. “Luchadora!” is an even more invigorating story with stronger themes of family, honor and personal tenacity. There is plenty of humor and even more action. At times, it felt like a much bigger production as the actors really committed to the physicality required by the play, throwing their bodies around the ring and flipping each other onto the mat. Filled with action, mystery, humor and passion, this one will surely delight both boys and girls.

Photo by Truman Buffett

Recommended age

The theater recommends children are at least eight years old for this production. I brought my 6-year-old with me, and she enjoyed it immensely. Quite a bit of “fight” choreography comes inherently with a play centered around lucha libra wrestling, but it never feels overdone to the extent that it would scare young viewers. More than anything, my daughter would have loved to have joined them in the ring to flip and play-fight to her heart’s desire.

Costumes and story structure of Luchadora

The characters, particularly the play’s antagonist, often wear masks, which may make some uneasy. Lupita’s masked opponent travels around the theater to make intermittent announcements; my daughter was thrilled to find him in the aisle behind us, but some easily upset theatergoers may not like having him anywhere but on the stage.

There is also discussion of Hannah’s death in war, which may be a confusing or unsettling point. The other characters react to it, and Hannah reads the final letter she sent home, detailing her ultimate happiness that she could make her own life decisions, even if it killed her.

For young theater-goers, the biggest difficulty in comprehension is that “Luchadora!” is a memory play, meaning it takes place in the past and the present. One character plays the granddaughter in the present and a younger version of the grandmother in the past. The characters and the play’s director, Johamy Morales, give the audience clues to know when she is moving between characters (items she wears in her hair, for example). Still, this may prove to be a befuddling point for early elementary school kids. My daughter asked several times about it during the play and didn’t seem to grasp the concept, even after a few explanations.

Despite this, she still enjoyed herself and will talk about it for weeks.

Know before you go

• The show runs through March 17, with a variety of showtimes spanning the morning and evening.
• Runtime is approximately 80 minutes without an intermission.
• The Audio Described Performance is on Saturday, March 9, at 1:00 p.m.
• Seattle Children’s Theatre is located at 201 Thomas Street, Seattle 98109
• Garage and street parking are available with payment. Give yourself ample time if there is an event at Climate Pledge Arena.
• Seattle Children’s Theatre is running at full capacity.

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About the Author

Candice McMillan

Candice McMillan has been writing about film for more than 10 years. Since becoming a mom to her two daughters, she’s had to hang up her affinity for horror films, catering to the two smallest critics who prefer shows about rescue dogs and a family of pigs. Candice has degrees in journalism and film critical studies from USC, and her favorite children’s film is a toss-up between “Anastasia” and “A Goofy Movie.”