‘Guadalupe In The Guest Room’ Love Is Never Forgotten, At Denver’s John Hand Theater Thru April 20th, LLD Review

Photo by Soular Radiant Photography.
Writer Tony Meneses, (left) with Joe Contreras

By Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media

First off, ‘Guadalupe In The Guest Room’ is not about the Virgen de Guadalupe, the Virgin Mary, it is about a woman from Mexico named Guadalupe, played by Megally Luna, Gaudalupe has come to the U.S. to care for her ailing daughter. The daughter, Claudia, has passed away and she is now a guest in the home of her daughter’s husband, Steve.

Guadalupe doesn’t speak English and Steve doesn’t speak Spanish. Guadalupe is wanting to finish translating a series of children’s books her daughter had written. Raquel, who worked as a bilingual teacher along side Claudia is trying to help despite her limited but expanding Spanish language skills.

Steve, played by Christopher Robin Donaldson, puts up with Guadalupe’s presence but is growing tired of her. “She won’t f _ _ king leave” he exclaims to Raquel, Marissa Joy Leotaud. “Why is she still here?” he asks, adding, “She needs to go already”.

Photo by Soular Radiant Photography.

But Guadalupe sticks around, cleaning Steve’s house, making his bed, cooking and watching her favorite TV/telenovela, soap opera, ‘El Amor Nunca Se Olvida’, Love Is Never Forgotten.

After, Guadalupe makes Steve’s bed against his repeated requests that she stop doing so, Steve loses it and explodes with fierce emotion towards Guadalupe. “What the f_ _k is wrong with you? What part do you not f_ _king get? Guadalupe may not speak English but she gets the message.

Guadalupe is deeply hurt but wants to finish the work she has started, wanting to leave a legacy for her daughter. It is her way of holding onto her daughter’s memory and learning about a part of her she did not know.

Steve is remorseful and tries to make up for his behavior. He joins Guadalupe on the couch and together they watch the telenovela. The telenovela is performed live, just in front of the couch, which makes up part of the set. Marissa Joy Leotaud and Phil Luna, play the telenovela’s protagonists, Aurelia and Bernardo. Luna also plays Jose Francisco. Bernardo is deeply in love with Aurelia and has returned to have her back at any cost.

Christopher Robin Donaldson as Steve and Magally Luna as Guadalupe watch the telenovela with Phil Luna as Jose Fernando and Marissa Joy Leotaud as Aurelia. Photo by Soular Radiant Photography.

Soon, Steve is hooked on the telenovela and together, he and Guadalupe make a point of watching the show each and every night having snacks and reacting to the soap opera’s emotional twists and turns.

When Steve hires a gardener, Roberto, also played by Phil Luna, the play takes on a romantic twist for Guadalupe. He is very much interested in her and she reluctantly in him. Steve has also developed an interest in Raquel, the teacher helping Guadalupe with the translation. Raquel too, has a reluctant interest in Steve as well. When Guadalupe stumbles upon the two of them kissing, that’s it! She calls him a series of traitorous names and packs her bags. Steve begs her to stay.

Photo by Soular Radiant Photography.

Through it all, Guadalupe and Steve are distracted by the grief of having lost Claudia but they are not able to escape it much less cope with their loss. The children’s books are almost done being translated and Guadalupe realizes it will soon be time for her to go. They both know they are having a difficult time dealing with their grief, each in their own way. They both know they must let Claudia go, but how?

Tony Meneses was born in Guadalajara, Mexico and raised in Albuquerque and Dallas. His plays include “Guadalupe in the Guest Room”, “The Women of Padilla”, “twenty50”, “The Hombres”, and “El Borracho”.

Guadalupe in the Guest Room is beautifully performed and emotionally touching and uplifting. It is funny yet dramatic. Writer, Tony Meneses, who also wrote twenty50, is able to convey both sides of the language barrier using mostly English and leaving it to the audience to determine when Spanish is being inferred, but in English. Not easy to do but Meneses pulls it off masterfully. Su Teatro Executive Artistic Director, Tony Garcia said, “The play is written for English speaking audiences, noting the most all of the audience was obviously English dominant, but I think they all get it.” he said.

Director, Melissa Lucero McCarl stated, “Tony Menessses uses a wonderfully inventive device that helps us hear what Guadalupe hears, feel what she feels.” She also referred to the Venezuelan migrants in Denver as way of understanding Guadalupe’s plight. “I pass scores of Venezuelan migrants who like Guadalupe have suffered deep losses and are in a foreign land where they understand only a fraction of the information being presented to them.”

Meet the cast: Steve, played by Christopher Robin Donaldson (left) Magally Luna, Guadalupe (second from left) Phil Luna, Roberto/Jose Francisco & Bernardo (second from right) & Mariassa Joy Leotaud, (requel/Aurelia/Claudia (far right) Photo by Soular Radiant Photography.

The cast of the Firehouse Theatre Company is brilliant with impeccable credentials. Magally Luna, Guadalupe, also played a part in ‘Charity’ directed by Debra Gallegos. Luna is a Salsera and performs with the Afro-Caribbean band Kizumba. Aside from appearing in several other top notch productions she is also an elementary school teacher.

Her husband, Phil Luna, is an acting teacher and also appeared in the Firehouse Theatre Company’s ‘Chartiy’. He directed the premiere of Cuactemoczin by Diego Florez and will be directing another original play called ‘Cheyanne’ by Cipriano Ortega in April 2024. He is a Fox Fellowship Recipient: Artist of Distinction.

Guadalupe’s son in law Steve, played by Christopher Robin Donaldson is quite the accomplished artist is his own right. He is a singer, songwriter and filmmaker having written, starred in and produced his own award winning musical ‘Portland Rain’.

Mariassa Joy Leotaud may be the most versatile of the group playing three characters, Raquel, Aurelia and Claudia, flawlessly. She has appeared in ‘The Vagina Monologues, Picasso At The Lapine Agile’ and ‘Here I Am, Her I Stay’.

Guadalupe in the Guest Room is a play that will stick with you for a long time to come. You will be reminded, in a positive way, of how maybe you have dealt with the grief of loosing a loved one.

“I couldn’t help thinking of my mother when she passed away,” said Maria, after watching the production. It brought back so many wonderful memories of my mother and her life with us. Not to mention of how we dealt with the grief of her passing,” she said, adding, “This is not a sad play at all, it is emotional at times but also fun and entertaining.”

Guadalupe in the Guest Room is coincidentally much like the telenovela’s title “El Amor Nunca Se Olvida” Love is Never Forgotten.

Guadalupe in the Guest Room plays the John Hand Theater through April 20, 2024.

The play runs approximately 97 minutes with no intermission.


John Hand Theater7653 E. 1st Place
Denver, CO 80230
Directions | 303-562-3232
Park on the east of the CFU/theater building.