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MEL MAGHUYOP, Filipino-American Actor Bound to Play Ferdinand Marcos Philippines recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Filipino-American stage actor and entrepreneur Mel Maghuyop in New York City. Maghuyop is playing the Philippines’ controversial political figure Ferdinand Marcos in Pan Asian Repertory’s Off-Broadway musical production of IMELDA, which runs on limited engagement at the Julia Miles Theater from September 22 through October 18, 2009.

“It's always been my passion to get involved with Asian American Theatre since performing in various productions of MISS SAIGON (2001-2009).  Jaygee Macapugay (she is playing Imelda Marcos in the show) and I have been good friends since we worked in the rock musical WHEN ELEPHANTS WEEP in Cambodia.  We both have been dreaming of playing Filipinos in a musical. Filipino-American actors usually end up playing Vietnamese, Chinese or Japanese, but never Filipino.  Essaying the role of Ferdinand Marcos in IMELDA is a dream about to come true,” said Maghuyop.

“Although Marcos was a controversial leader, I still have the responsibility of finding the balance between reality, entertainment, and telling the story. I want to portray him for who he was not only as a president, but as a Filipino as well.” 

The singer/actor was born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in Houston, Texas.  His parents Angelo and Erlinda came from the Visayas, in the Philippines.  Both parents were active leaders and singers in a Filipino community in Houston.

Maghuyop holds a bachelor’s degree in Theater and minor in Music at the University of Houston. Stuart and Anne Ostrow were his mentors. 

Apart from performing in professional musical theater, he is into the business of designing and distributing pillows that look like Japanese sushi.  He has been partners with MISS SAIGON colleague Cindy Tomm in running “The Original Sushi Pillow” since 2003.

So how well does he know Ferdinand Marcos?  “Honestly, I know around 25-30 percent about him.  I’ve been conducting research on the history of the Philippines, and the Marcoses since about a year ago. My Filipino friends from MS. SAIGON and I even went to the National Museum and Intramuros in Manila.  It’s been a little bit difficult, but I’m doing my best…. I don’t want to perform Ferdinand Marcos as an alpha male stereotype.  There’s more to him than one might think,” he said.

IMELDA is a new bio-musical that retells the rise and fall of Imelda Marcos - a highly controversial figure in Philippine politics, widow of erstwhile dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and owner of over 3,000 pairs of shoes - boasts an all-Filipino cast led by Macapugay and Maghuyop.

Pan Asian Repertory (New York) collaborates with East West Players (EWP Los Angeles) to bring IMELDA to Off-Broadway, directed by Tim Dang who also directed the show’s world premiere on the West Coast.

Other Filipino actors in the cast include Liz Casasola as Corazon Aquino, Brian Jose as Benigno Aquino, Jr., Alan Ariano, Angelica-Lee Aspiras, Billy Bustamante, Leanne Cabrera, Loresa Lanceta, Jonelle Margallo, and Romney Piamonte.  Their make-up artist Leslie Ledesma is also Filipino.

“The music of IMELDA sounds more like American musical theatre.  There will be a lot of singing and dancing… and couple of power ballads. Our audiences will definitely learn some new things about the Filipino identity and the Marcoses. I enjoy performing the musical number “Philippine Origins.”  It shows how complex and diverse Philippine culture is.  Oh, also we get to dance in it in traditional Filipino costumes!” said Maghuyop. 

Founded in 1977, Pan Asian Repertory (The Joy Luck Club, Shogun Macbeth) is the largest producer of Asian American Theatre productions, particularly on the East Coast. The Company encourages production of new plays with contemporary Asian American themes; explores new forms by drawing upon the unique heritage of Asian American style, music, and movement; and nurtures emerging Asian American talents.

IMELDA performances at the Julia Miles Theatre are on Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with matinees on Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $55. Senior tickets are $35 and student tickets are $20. To buy tickets, call (212) 239-6200 or visit


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