(SPOT.ph) America's growing restriction on immigration policies, specifically the plight of Filipino immigrants, is currently the talk of town—nah, the whole world. Cases of immigrant families being broken up make it to the headlines almost every day. It's also the center of Filipino-American director Diane Paragas' debut feature, Yellow Rose, which premiered in Los Angeles in May. The "first Filipino-American musical to hit Off-Broadway" tackles the same theme—Felix Starro, which is set to premiere at Theatre Row in New York City on August 23.
Felix Starro is based on a short story by Filipino-American writer Lysley Tenorio, who was born in the Philippines and currently lives in San Francisco where he works as an associate professor. Incidentally, the musical's script and lyrics are by another Filipino-American writer—Jessica Hagedorn, who was also born in the Philippines and moved to the U.S. in her early teens. She is known for her novel Dogeaters, which won the American Book Award in 1990 and was nominated for the National Book Award in 1991. Felix Starro's music is by Fabian Obispo, who shares the same roots as Tenorio and Hagedorn. The director, Ralph B. Peña, is—surprise—also a Filipino-American born in Manila where he founded a street-performance company that used vaudeville to protest against the Marcos dictatorship. Five years after permanently moving to the U.S., he founded Ma-Yi Theater Company—the producer of Felix Starro.
The musical follows the story of Felix (Alan Ariano), a famous faith healer in the Philippines whose clients once included celebrities and big politicians. He falls from grace, forcing him to go to San Francisco for a healing mission in the Bay Area. He tags Junior (Nacho Tambunting) along—not knowing that his orphaned grandson has plans of his own. Rounding up the cast are Caitlin Cisco as Crystal, Francisca Muñoz as Mrs. Delgado, Ryan James Ortega as Bobby/Ramon, Diane Phelan as Charma, and Ching Valdes-Aran as Flora.
Felix Starro runs from August 23 to September 15 at Theatre Row, 42nd Street, New York City. For more information, visit Ma-Yi Theater Company's website.
Main photo from IMDB