"Esta es mi tierra."
California Territory, 1850; a young Ramona does not know who she is or where she came from - she only knows that the Señora Moreno raises her, grudgingly, as the only daughter of a wealthy family determined to live by rules and customs. Ramona's story of loss, love, and destruction explodes under the sharp heel of war, and carries us through her desperate journey in search of family, legacy, and home.
Ramona the musical is a brand new take on a beloved California classic.
Published in 1884, Helen Hunt Jackson’s first full-length novel, Ramona, was an instant success. Tales of the old Spanish ranchos, the plight of the Indians, and the whirlwind romance of a young woman of mysterious descent brought new attention to the quickly-shifting political climate of the newly formed state of California. Jackson’s original intent had been to deliver a ‘palatable’ story of the mistreatment of California’s Native Americans in order to evoke sympathy from the public and influence a change in the government policies that handled Indian affairs; however, the novel initially sparked more interest in California tourism than heartfelt political activism. This was, in part, due to Jackson’s romanticization of Spanish Californio society and her sentimental portrayal of Mexican colonial life.
In this new musical adaptation, Ramona follows the story of the original novel with some specific adjustments and additions, told in part by the character of Helen Hunt Jackson herself. Ramona begins at the crossroads of the American West, a collision of the old and the new in California - a land in which Indians are being forced to register with the government and flee their homes, Californios are being driven back to Mexico, and the Americanos are moving westward in search of riches and adventure. The music features the unique styles of traditional Mexican mariachi, Luiseño Indian bird songs, and American folk music; three languages are used during the production: English, Spanish, and Cahuilla, an Uto-Aztecan language spoken by the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians.
Ramona is currently being developed in New York City by California native, Kayla Friend, and is endorsed by the Ramona Pageant Association.
MEET THE MAIN CHARACTERS
The young heroine of this story; Ramona is a half Scottish, half Native American woman who was adopted as a young child by a wealthy Mexican family, raised Catholic and brought up as a proper Mexican aristocrat of the day.
Alessandro is a young man of the Luiseño tribe of Native Americans near Temecula, California. Alessandro is well-educated; he reads and writes in Spanish and also plays the violin. He meets Ramona as he is working to manage the sheep-shearing on the Rancho Moreno.
Head of the rancho, Señora Moreno is the matriarch of the Moreno family. Deeply steeped in her pious Catholic faith, she is a picture of the last of the Franciscan order, and clings to the old familiar ways of Spanish California. She is the sister of Ramona's adopted mother, and guardian to Ramona.
Son of the Señora Moreno, and the last surviving child of the family, Felipe is Ramona's best friend and confidante. He managed the rancho for his mother until he fell ill after a fainting spell. Felipe is a close friend of Ramona and Alessandro, and one of the few who knows about their blooming affections for one another.
Author of the novel Ramona, Helen Hunt Jackson was a political activist and philanthropist, specifically aiding the California Native Americans following the aftermath of the Mexican-American War. She was a well-educated and adventurous trail-blazer for female political writers and novelists.