A 17th-century nun reportedly visited the New World, became a king’s close confidant, and escaped the clutches of the Spanish Inquisition without ever leaving her Spanish convent. Now, she’s headed to Houston.
Spanish abbess and mystic María de Ágreda will make her Bayou City debut in Lady of Agreda, A Mystical Journey, a brand new musical premiering at the Queensbury Theatre this week.
The first notes of the musical were written 10 years ago after composer and lyricist Cynthia Jordan first learned of María after moving to San Angelo in 2005, says Donna Cole, the founder of Cole Chemical & Distributing, Inc. and the production’s executive producer.
Long considered a major figure in state religious history, María is said to have made a name for herself by astral projecting to San Angelo, Texas, and sharing her religion with the native Jumano tribe. The Jumano tribe dubbed her the Lady in Blue after the royal blue robes for which her order was known to wear.
Historical letters say the Native Americans, now well-versed in María’s faith, later approached local priests and asked to be baptized, which led to María’s first clash with the Spanish Inquisition. She would run into the Inquisition again years later after writing the Mystical City of God, a novel she said was mostly dictated to her by the Virgin Mary.
“In her story, the Catholic Church is kind of her villain because she had these beautiful, spiritual experiences: levitation and bilocation,” says Jordan, who first rose to fame with her 1983 song “Jose Cuervo” and would later found a children's choir, Kids for Kids.
María also became a close friend and spiritual advisor to King Philip IV of Spain; the two exchanged hundreds of letters over more than two decades.
With so much of María’s life veering from ordinary, the hardest part of the production was deciding what to focus on, says Marley Singletary, the production’s line producer and book author.
Despite that challenge, the show took less than a year to produce after Jordan got director Bruce Lumpkin and Cole involved. Cole says she wasn’t sure about the project when Jordan first pitched the idea of a musical but later drove past something she took as a sign to get involved.
“Well, the Jumano tribe—the last time they saw María—they said wherever her blue cape touched the ground, bluebonnets grew. And that’s the legend of the Texas bluebonnets,” she says. “So, I’m in the backseat of an Uber, going to the airport, and I’m at the corner of the intersection by my house and I look over, and I’ll be darned, they painted my electrical box with bluebonnets. And I said, ‘OK, God. I got this for you.’”
Singletary says the Lady of Agreda is especially relevant today because it reminds viewers of what’s important: loving other people and putting faith in something bigger than themselves and their current problems to try and find the solution to create a better world.
“And that’s very much what María did,” she says. “Her dying words were basically, ‘Remember to do good always.’”
Thru Apr 5. From $55. Queensbury Theatre, 12777 Queensbury Ln. 713-467-4497. More info and tickets at ladyofagreda.com.