All-Filipino cast in Sondheim tribute

Lea Salonga topbills Stephen Sondheim tribute. Photos by Carlo Damocles

The Philippine Development Foundation USA will hold a fundraising gala on November 7 at the Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center with a concert tribute to Stephen Sondheim headlined by Tony winner Lea Salonga.

Lea (“Miss Saigon,” “Les Miserables,” Disney’s “Mulan” and “Aladdin”) is joined by an impressive cast of Filipino American Broadway stars: Joan Almedilla (“Miss Saigon,” “Les Miserables”), Raul Aranas (“Miss Saigon,” “The King & I”), Ali Ewoldt (“Les Miserables,” “West Side Story”), Rona Figueroa (“Miss Saigon,” “Lennon”), Lydia Gaston (“The King & I,” “The Red Shoes”), Adam Jacobs (“Les Miserables,” “The Lion King”), Jose Llana (“The King & I,” “Spelling Bee”), Orville Mendoza (“Pacific Overtures,” “Miss Saigon”), Paolo Montalban (“Pacific Overtures,” “The King & I”), Emily Morales (Lincoln Center’s “South Pacific”), Jennifer Paz (“Miss Saigon,” “Jesus Christ Superstar”), and company members Aaron Albano, Alan Ariano, Marie France Arcilla, Emy Baysic, Billy Bustamante, Liz Casasola, Marc dela Cruz, Ariel Estrada, Brian Jose, Luz Lor, Jaygee Macapugay, Mel Maghuyop, Jake Manabat, Adam Marcelo, JP Moraga, Lora Nicolas, Diane Phelan, Chris-Ian Sanchez, and Melissa Singson.

“We are thrilled to be presenting a one-of-a-kind and historic concert event for our gala this year showcasing the world-class talents of the Filipino-Americans to raise awareness and much-needed funding for PhilDev’s programs,” said PhilDev trustee Loida Nicolas Lewis. “There are millions of Filipinos back home who are in dire need of assistance. And the ‘bayanihan’ spirit among the Filipino Americans and our American friends is truly moving. We are extremely grateful.”

The evening’s repertoire will be devoted to the works of internationally celebrated composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim with songs from some of his iconic musicals such as “A Little Night Music,” “Sweeney Todd” and “West Side Story.”

Victor Lirio

The concert—conceived and co-produced by Victor Lirio, artistic director of Diverse City Theater Co. (DCT), and PhilDev trustee Ronna Reyes Sieh—will be the first New York gala for PhilDev. It also marks the first all-Filipino concert at Lincoln Center. Tom Myron is conductor and music director.

In a letter to Lirio, Sondheim said, “I am delighted that you want to devote an evening to my work. Thank you so much for the compliment.”

Sondheim: Delighted

“Sondheim’s works are some of the greatest in the musical theater canon and it is a privilege to breathe life into some of his iconic works,” Lirio said. “I am grateful to him for giving us this tremendous opportunity. We are looking forward to sharing with the New York audiences our expression of his work.”

He added: “This is a dream cast. This concert will underscore the contributions Filipino artists have made to America’s rich and diverse theater culture.”

Lirio founded Diverse City Theater, a non-profit theater company in New York City, in 2003. He directed the New York Times-acclaimed production of Warren Bodow’s “Race Music,” award-winning playwright Cassandra Medley’s “Noon Day Sun” earning several nominations for the Audelco Awards including Best Dramatic Production of the Year and Best Play. For DCT, he has developed and produced more than 18 original plays since 2005.

Music director Tom Myron is an American composer, arranger, and conductor who is active in the fields of live concert performance and independent film. His work is heard regularly at Carnegie Hall and Jazz at Lincoln Center where he has written charts for singers Marilyn Horne, Kate Pierson, Andrea McArdle, among others; composer/pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi; cellist/composer David Darling; and popular ensembles such as the New York Pops and the Young People’s Chorus of New York City. His film scores include “Wilderness & Spirit,” “A Mountain Called Katahdin” and “Henry David Thoreau: Surveyor of the Soul.”

Tickets will be on sale beginning August 8. Visit or call CenterCharge at 212-721-6500. Proceeds will benefit the projects of PhilDev.

Formerly known as Ayala Foundation USA, PhilDev is a public charity registered with the United States Internal Revenue Service as a 501 (c) 3 tax-exempt organization. It focuses on building an ecosystem of science and technology-based entrepreneurship and innovation for social and economic development in the Philippines. As part of its commitment to diaspora philanthropy, PhilDev also generates resources from U.S.-based donors for non-profit organizations in the Philippines.

One Comment

  1. Carrie wrote:

    West Side Story is one of my favorites. Sondheim is the best in his generation.

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