SO Jannelle!: Broadway in Glendale

The children playing the Von Trapp siblings during rehearsal

The children playing the Von Trapp siblings during rehearsal. Photo by Ruben V. Nepales

By Jannelle So

The Filipino American Symphony Orchestra does a night on the town!

On April 25th, FASO will bring Broadway to the Alex Theater in Glendale, California in “FASO Goes Broadway,” where the 50-member ensemble will interpret memorable musicals from stage classics such as “Phantom of the Opera,” “Les Miserables,” “My Fair Lady,” and more.

“This will be a thrilling show since it will be the first time that FASO will perform an entire concert devoted to Broadway music,” said Luis Ramos, FASO vice president and arranger-in-residence.

Aside from featuring Broadway classics, the concert will also honor Filipino artists who have performed on Broadway, including Joan Almedilla who starred as Kim and Bonifacio “Bones” Deoso who played the role of Thuy, both in “Miss Saigon.” Hollywood journalist and FASO board member Ruben Nepales said that this is “FASO’s way of celebrating Pinoy talent.”

The event will also feature a special segment for beloved songs created for child performers, including “Do-Re-Mi” (“The Sound of Music”), “Tomorrow” (“Annie”) and “Where is Love?” (“Oliver!”).

And this is another highlight of the show: children singers. I have been covering FASO events and interviewing some of their members for years. I recall distinctly one thing that struck me in my previous conversations with FASO’s highly esteemed musical director and conductor, Robert “Bob” Shroder. He said that one of FASO’s trust is to cultivate music appreciation in our Filipino American community, and to start such education at a young age.

Among the child performers are Chelsea Chiu and Joshua-Kai Dawson who will sing “Tomorrow” and “Where is Love,” respectively.

After going through auditions, seven talented kids landed the von Trapp children roles in “The Sound of Music.” They are Samantha Isidro (Liesl), Christian Avendaño (Friedrich), Tia Enroth (Louisa), Micah Luna (Kurt), Christina Blay (Brigitta), Sabrina Evangelista (Marta) and Maggi Avant (Gretl). Ian Luna plays Rolfe.

Six other children will perform as part of the FASO Broadway kids ensemble.

“I’m especially excited to work with the youngsters singing solos and parts of the von Trapp children,” said Shroder. “From the beginning of the audition process, I was very impressed with the overwhelming talent of these children. They are just amazing. Most of them can read notes. They are always on time and come prepared during rehearsals.”

Nepales added after attending a rehearsal: “The children, ranging in age from as young as 6 to 18, blew me away the moment they opened their mouths to sing. So you can imagine how many talented Filipinos there are who just need the major break. That’s why FASO is giving some of these talented Filipino talents a chance to shine and be discovered through the show.”

Other guest vocal performers include Giji Kocher (aka Djhoanna Garcia), Ninette Tenza, Isabella Ramos and Emily Ferrolino.

“We are also featuring talented Filipino American performers who deserve to be getting major breaks. We would like to help promote these artists,” said Ramos who added that aside from using the original arrangements of songs in Broadway musicals, he will arrange a few pieces especially for FASO and the show.

Here’s an invitation from Shroder: “We would like to encourage everyone to bring their entire families, including small children. This concert will be a good exposure to music and will bring tremendous value to their music appreciation experience.”

Tickets to “FASO Goes Broadway” are priced at $25, $40, $45, $60 and $100. Contact any of the following to purchase: Arlene Ferrolino, FASO board of directors president, (213) 248-9850; Bob Shroder (818) 395-8936 and Andy Tecson (323) 467-5069. More details about the show at Alex Theatre is located at 216 North Brand Blvd., Glendale, CA 91203.

The young singers are Maggi Avant, Christina Blay, Sabrina Evangelista, Samantha Isidro, Micah Luna, Tia Enroth, Christian Avendano and Ian Luna.

The young singers are Maggi Avant, Christina Blay, Sabrina Evangelista, Samantha Isidro, Micah Luna, Tia Enroth, Christian Avendano and Ian Luna. Photo by Ruben V. Nepales

FASO: Cultivating music appreciation, promoting young talents

FASO: Cultivating music appreciation, promoting young talents

Jannelle So is credited for creating, hosting and producing ‘Kababayan L.A.,’ the first and only locally-produced daily talk show for Filipinos that ran for 8 ½ years under her leadership. It is the longest-running Filipino talk show in America. Jannelle loves to travel. Through this column, she will share the exciting things she discovers and the wonderful people she meets along the way. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; or email her at

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