Blast Off!, a new Teatro Milagro production, is partially based on the life of Dr. Ellen Ochoa, the first Latina to go to space. The play is a bilingual touring and video production opening this month virtually and presented through June 2021.

In the story, a young passionate girl, Valentina, meets the first Latina astronaut, Ellen Ochoa, and is inspired by her, dreaming of a bright future becoming an astronaut. Some of Valentina’s classmates cast her off because she’s a girl who enjoys ballet. Even people in her family don’t support her dreams of being an astronaut.

Then Valentina finds confidence and inspiration in a new, imaginary best friend also named Ellen Ochoa, and the two of them navigate the world of big dreams, doubt and education. They find out how the sciences and arts work together, and agree to never let fear get in the way of learning.

Blast Off was written by Maya Malan Gonzalez and directed by Mandana Khoshnevisan. The choreography is by Gabriela Portuguez and the show will be available in a high-quality video format. Once it is safe for the cast to perform live shows again, the show will tour.

The cast includes Sulema Alamillo as Valentina and Cati Rangel as Ellen Ochoa. The performance is paired with Unidad Mas Alla (going higher with unity), a STEAM curriculum that includes rocket and robotic design, astronaut training and theatrical activities for students in elementary and middle school.

With grant support, Milagro will offer free virtual school residencies to schools with significant Spanish-speaking populations in Woodburn, Hillsboro and Portland. Blast Off will launch onto the virtual stage for the Arcata School District in Northern California in October and be available to schools nationally through June of 2020. Read more about the life of Ellen Ochoa at milagro.org.

Blast Off! cast photo by Liset Puentes