A musical about Filipinos and the Philippines inches closer to Broadway

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SEATTLE – It was the first time the cast performed ​to​ a mostly Filipino audience for Seattle Repertory Theatre’s hit musical Here Lies Love’s, as guests relived the events during martial law and the iconic People Power Revolution. Emotions ran high amidst all the dancing, techno beats and controversy about the show.

The musical was the main event featured at the Seattle’s Philippine Soiree on Saturday, June 3, which was ​presented ​by Jhett Tolentino and the Filipino Young Leaders Program. The benefit event drew audiences to Seattle from Vancouver​, Los Angeles​ and Portland, as well as FYLPRO alumni from Hawaii, Chicago​, San Francisco​ and New York.

“The goal is to bring this show to Broadway, where never in a hundred years has there been a story about the Philippines and our people,” Tolentino said. “There are many steps ​involved,​ ​​they’re never ​easy – taking the show mainstream is a ​huge ​step, and community support remains the most essential component​.

“I want this to go further. Just sit tight.”

Special guests at the Soiree include San Francisco Philippine Consul General Henry Bensurto, Kababayan Today host G Tongi, Filipino fashion designer Oliver Tolentino, singer Gaby Borromeo and public relations executive Rembrandt Flores.

“We want to thank everyone who joined us, especially to our sponsors​​, vendors and Kaya Collaborative volunteers who ensured the success of the event,” said Kit Zulueta, president of FYLPRO. “It is our goal to bridge the Philippines and the Filipino communities in the U.S. and this event helped us brand and elevate our culture and history.”

The audience were treated to a post-show Q&A where Mark Bautista, playing the role of President Ferdinand Marcos said, “As a Filipino, I’m very proud to do this show. We are sharing our history to the world.”

The cast of SRT’s Here Lies Love boasts of Filipino talent.

“It’s nice to not have to do an accent,” said Conrad Ricamora who plays Ninoy Aquino. “A lot of times going through this business, you get cast as an Asian role with a generic Asian accent, which reduces people to a stereotype. They tell you ‘any Asian accent is fine,’ which is really offensive.”

Jaygee Macapugay, who plays the lead role Imelda Marcos, choked up when asked about how deep they get into their characters. Macapugay said seeing a lot of fellow Filipinos in the audience, who all are part in the singing and dancing in the story, added a dimension, which made the roles seem more real.

“It’s just been an honor and a privilege to do this,” Macapugay said. “I have never been part of a show that is for the Filipino. I am hoping this is the first of many Filipino musicals.”

The Seattle’s Philippine Soiree is  sponsored by Supersmile, The Filipino Channel, in cooperation with Inquirer.net, Kababayan Today, Pinoy Buzz and Constantine Screen Printing and Goods.

Guests were treated to a reception afterwards sponsored by The Filipino Food Movement, which featured Hood Famous Bakeshop, SaluSalo Filipino Kitchen, Kraken Congee and Seafood City.

The Soiree also featured a variety of cultural books from Pinoy Words Expressed Kultura Arts, ancient Philippine writing system Baybayin.com, Filipino-designer products from Matina and an exclusive showcase of limited edition Philip Stein Global Filipino Watch collection.​

The benefit nonprofit FYLPRO made an announcement that evening opening applications to its annual Immersion Program. Each year 10 outstanding young leaders are selected to take part in a week-long, all-expense-paid trip to the Philippines. Information about the program is available at FYLPRO.org.

SRT’s Here Lies Love is reported to be their most expensive show ever, which has transformed its theatre into a wild disco party. The show is extended until June 18.

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Event photos by Alan Alabastro:

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