By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – Here comes Felix Starro, the first Filipino musical off-Broadway. At last, a narrative on Filipino diaspora revolving on faith, family, mystery, and immigration, will be on Theater Row starting August 23 (previews and critics nights) and on September 3 for the public to watch.
From Jessica Hagedorn’s adaptation of Lysley Tenorio’s short story Felix Starro, this musical production is a predominantly Filipino cast and crew. Directed by Ralph Pena with musical score by Fabian Obispo and choreographed by Brandon Bieber, it features Alan Ariano (as Felix Starro), Nacho Tambunting as Junior, and Caitlin Cisco as Crystal.
“Having to act as a Filipino for the first time is sentimental to me,” says Ariano in a presser on August 15. Ariano starred in various key roles for The King and I Lincoln Center revival and original cast for Miss Saigon. He has played in regional theaters all over the US. On TV, Adriano performs for Law & Order, Law & Order SVU, The Path, Treme, and Leverage.
Felix Starro will run for five weeks, until September 15, on Theater Row (410 WEst 42nd Street, NYC).
Hagedorn said that the show, although a Filipino story, is universally themed on family, faith, and immigration. “It is about faith, and family and immigration. So this is timely and relevant. And it is about time we have our story on stage,” she said.
Music director Fabian Obispo promises poignant and festive relatable music for the show.
Director Ralph Pena said that the musical has been put together for two years using various workshops and is glad to have staged it in New York, where the pool of talent is immense.
Veteran actress Ching Valdes Aran makes a come back with MaYi as Flora in Felix Starro. “I’m excited to be back,” she said and recalled the strides (typical for immigrants of having to juggle several jobs while setting up the theatre as their creative passion) she and her colleagues made in trying to set up MaYi in the early 1989.
“Now MaYi has grown substantially,” she remarked, to which director Pena said, “we are still poor.” Laughter ensued at the presser. MaYi is one of the country’s leading incubators of new performing arts work that shaped the national conversation on what it means to be Asian in America.
Felix Starro is about the protagonist Felix Starro, a famous faith healer in the Philippines whose clients included big politicians and celebrities. He goes to San Francisco for one last healing mission together with his 19-year-old orphan grandson Junior. Without his knowledge, Junior has plans of his own in the US.
Felix Starro will be shown on August 23 to September 15. Critics night will be on August 28. Tickets are at $52-$102 and can be purchased at ma-yitheater.org or by calling Telecharge at 212.239.6200.