Book On Filipino American Theater History Now Available

Book On Filipino American Theater History Now Available

A book detailing the histories of Filipino American theater groups and artists is now available. Barangay to Broadway: Filipino American Theater History includes information on Tony Award winners such as Lea Salonga (Actress in a Musical for Miss Saigon), Clint Ramos (Costume Design for Eclipsed), Lena Hall (Featured Actress in a Musical for Hedwig and the Angry Inch) and Robert Lopez (Music for Avenue Q and Book of Mormon).

The book also provides interesting trivia. Find out why the musical Miss Saigon might not have been staged at all if the producers hadn't gone to audition actors in the Philippines. Discover how set designer and director Loy Arcenas set a precedent for scenic designs to be copyrightable after he discovered his work for the Broadway production of Love! Valor! Compassion! was plagiarized.

The 'barangay' (pronounced buh-rung-guy) in the book's title is an ancient Filipino term that is still used today to designate districts. "It symbolizes the Philippines and the term 'Broadway' symbolizes the U.S. Both terms symbolize all the different kinds of Filipino American theater communities listed in the book," said author Walter Ang, who writes about Filipino American theater for news site (Philippine Daily Inquirer).

The book profiles groups and individuals that have comprised Filipino American theater throughout the decades from the 1900s to the 2010s and includes interviews with Filipino American theater makers such as directors, playwrights, set and costume designers and actors.

Broadway beckons

Filipino American actors currently on Broadway include Ali Ewoldt in The Phantom of the Opera as Christine and Arielle Jacobs and Don Darryl Rivera in Disney's Aladdin as Jasmine and Iago, respectively. Robert Brill designed the sets of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical. Salonga just finished her stint as Erzulie in Once on This Island with costumes designed by Clint Ramos. Robert Lopez composed and wrote songs for Disney's Frozen.

Filipino American actors in touring productions include Jose Llana (King of Siam) and Joan Almedilla (Lady Thiang)-both who just finished The King and I, Isa Briones (Peggy Schuyler) in Hamilton, N'Jameh Camara (Nettie) in The Color Purple, Lissa deGuzman (Jasmine) and Jay Paranada (Iago) in Disney's Aladdin and Emily Bautista (Kim) and Christine Bunuan (Gigi) with visiting Filipino actor Red Concepcion (Engineer) in Miss Saigon.

"Fun fact: Filipino Americans have been performing on Broadway since the late 1940s. Barbara Luna was in South Pacific as Ngana, Neile Adams was in Kismet as a Princess of Ababu and Patrick Adiarte was in The King and I as Prince Chulalongkorn," he said.

Theater groups

The book goes on to profile Filipino American theater artists who either founded or were early members of pioneering Asian American theater companies in the 1960s and 1970s such as Northwest Asian American Theatre in Seattle, Asian American Theatre Company in San Francisco and surviving groups East West Players in Los Angeles and Pan Asian Repertory Theatre in New York.

The book continues with the establishing of trailblazing Filipino American theater companies in the 1980s and 1990s such as Ma-Yi Theater in New York (which later expanded its focus to Asian American theater), CIRCA-Pintig in Chicago, and Bindlestiff Studio in San Francisco, and then follows the emerging groups and leaders of the 2000s and 2010s.

"The book is for passionate theater fans, young and seasoned theater makers seeking information about the paths carved by their fellow artists, and parents and educators looking for resources to increase awareness in younger generations on the rich heritage and artistic work that has been and continues to be created by diverse theater makers," he said.

Barangay to Broadway: Filipino American Theater History has hardcover, paperback and ebook editions and is available at sites such as and

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