NOT many people know this but name a Broadway musical and chances are there’s a Filipino in the cast. For many years now, talented Filipino and Filipino-American artists have found themselves dancing, singing and acting on Broadway.
With Broadway theaters remaining dark until at least next spring due to Covid-19, performers have found themselves exploring digital outlets, such as virtual events via live streaming.
Enter the Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture, an annual festival usually held in an outdoor venue around Los Angeles. With Covid-19, FilAmArts, the organization behind the festival, announced that FPAC this year will be held virtually over three days via Facebook Live, YouTube, the Kumu app, and the web site www.filamarts.org.
Lea Salonga leads a stellar list of Broadway vets and regional talent who are sharing their talent with the Filipino-American community during this special month, named as “Filipino American History Month” (October). Other notable FPAC guests, include Joan Almedilla (Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, The King and I), Kimee Balmilero (Mama Mia, Hawaii 5-0), Jon Jon Briones (Miss Saigon, Netflix’s Ratched, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story), Isa Briones (Hamilton, Star Trek: Picard), Bonifacio Deoso Jr. (Miss Saigon), Anatloy Fedorov (Les Miserables, American Idol), Deedee Magno Hall (Wicked, If/Then, Steven Universe), Adam Jacobs (Aladdin, Les Miserables, The Lion King), Reggie Lee (All Rise, Grimm), Eva Noblezada (Yellow Rose, Miss Saigon, Hadestown), Jennifer Paz (Miss Saigon, Steven Universe), AJ Rafael (YouTube), Don Darryl Rivera (Aladdin), CJ Uy (The King and I) and Paolo Montalban (The King and I). Tony Award nominated costume and set designer Clint Ramos (Slave Play, The Rose Tattoo) will also take part in the festivities.
Another special highlight of FPAC 2020 for theater fans is the exclusive world premiere of the song “Stories Like Air.” In partnership with Broadway Barkada, Paulo K. Tirol composed “Stories Like Air” that world-premiering exclusively for the 27th Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture 2020. Performing are Filipino-American Broadway stars including: Liz Casasola, Brian Jose, Steven Cuevas, Jaygee Macapugay, Devin Ilaw, Aaron Albano, Albert Guerzon, Emily Borromeo and Ali Ewoldt.
“Stories Like Air” is a tribute to theater and theater artists, written from the perspective that theater is an art form in which a community of artists comes together to tell stories through words, music, movement and design. “Broadway Barkada is grateful for the collaboration with FilAm Arts on ‘Stories Like Air’ which serves as a reminder that art is essential and healing during these challenging times,” says Broadway Barkada cofounder, Liz Casasola.
FPAC 2020 will take place virtually from October 23 to 25 from 7 to 10 pm, streaming on multiple platforms. October is Filipino American History Month. Admission is free but RSVPs are requested. Free and VIP tickets are available at www.flipcause.com.
“We’re excited to debut FPAC on a first-ever virtual stage but, in festival tradition, we continue to spotlight a strong lineup of Filipino and Filipino American multidisciplinary artists,” said Giselle Tongi-Walters, FilAm ARTS programming director. “The hard work, long hours and dedication put in by the production team—helmed by award-winning filmmaker Charles Uy—and our amazingly passionate festival builders alike have been nothing short of community-strengthening and inspiring, and we are certain that our artists will provide equal inspiration through their art and performances.”