Categories: Kristen Schweizer, THE BUZZ

THE BUZZ: Destiny of Desire: A Bold and Unapologetic Telenovela Takes the Stage

By Kristen Schweizer

June 1, 2023

Nancy Ticotin as Sister Sonia and Al Rodrigo as Armando Castillo in Destiny of Desire, 2023. Photo by Jim Cox.

Approximately, 28,000 babies are switched at birth per year worldwide. This horrifying fact is delightful plot fodder for many telenovelas, including Destiny of Desire: An Unapologetic Telenovela for the Stage. The devilishly self-aware play-with-music runs at The Old Globe through June 25, 2023.

The tale follows two baby girls, switched at birth by a relentless ex-beauty queen. The families navigate tumultuous paths through class boundaries, love triangles, scandalous secrets, and terrific music. Audiences can expect to gasp (from laughter) and also be provoked via informative asides. The show begins before the obligatory “dark and stormy night” opener, with the actors stretching in preparation to perform the telenovela. The players state an intention to milk every moment and disrupt expectations: We are here to change the social order. Deal with it!  The savvy sprinkling of shocking facts (over 800 people die trying to cross the US-Mexico border each year) alongside shameless fun (“You’re a step-motherfucker!”) means that this script see-saws wildly between silly, sexy scenes and smart, subversive satire.

Bianca Marroquín as Fabiola Castillo in Destiny of Desire, 2023. Photo by Jim Cox.

The terrific Latin American ensemble cast – Agustin, Ayala, Gomez, Gonzalez, Kvshny, Livas, Marroquin, Olivas, Ramirez, Rodrigo, Suarez, Tictotin – work together beautifully. Considering the immense vocal talent available, the enthusiastic audience response to each song, and the 160-minute run time, it was a pity each star received only one musical number apiece. Still, it is worth purchasing a ticket just to see the luminous Bianca Marroquin as Fabiola Castillo. She brings all the lust and vibrato one would expect from Broadway’s Chicago lead. Marroquin has played both Roxie and Velma on the Great White Way and deserved her standing ovation as another somehow-sympathetic villainess. ¡Brava!

The soundstage setting was amplified by Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s Brechtian direction. Audience members who are familiar with Latin television will adore the vibrant color palette by scenic designer Rachal Hauck and costume designer Karen Perry. The sensual, touchable fabrics on the beds and bodies echo the trappings of abuelitas’ favorite “stories” while matching The Old Globe’s high-grade production value reputation.

Destiny of Desire: An Unapologetic Telenovela for the Stage is a frothy, summer extravaganza that transcends borders and guarantees giggles. With seamless, accessible transitions between English and Spanish, this is a well-chosen story to tell in a city such as San Diego.

Destiny of Desire: An Unapologetic Telenovela for the Stage
By Karen Zacarías
Directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson
May 19-June 25, 2023

Donald and Darleen Shiley Stage
Old Globe Theatre

The cast of Destiny of Desire, 2023. Photo by Jim Cox.

For more information and to buy tickets visit; guests ages 18-29 are eligible for $29 tickets via the Under 30 Discount program; check out special discounts for youth via the Tix4Teeens program.

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Vanguard Culture is an online media entity designed for culturally savvy, socially conscious individuals. We provide original interviews and reviews of the people, places, and events that make up San Diego’s thriving arts and culture community, as well as curated snapshots of the week’s best, most inspiring and unique cultural and culinary events. We believe in making a difference in the world, supporting San Diego’s vibrant visual and performing arts community and bringing awareness to important social and community causes.