FilAm musical about a famous faith healer to open Off-Broadway on Aug. 23

Jessica Hagedorn, together with Fabian Obispo, wrote the screenplay.

Ma-Yi is slated to open its 30th anniversary season with the world premiere of “Felix Starro,” a new musical by Jessica Hagedorn and Fabian Obispo. Based on a powerful short story by acclaimed Filipino American writer Lysley Tenorio, “Felix Starro” marks the first-time-ever a musical created by Filipino Americans will be presented Off-Broadway. It runs August 23 to September 15 at Theatre Row at 410 West 42nd Street, with an opening night of September 3.

Directed by Ma-Yi’s Producing Artistic Director Ralph B. Peña, “Felix Starro” also marks the long overdue return to New York stages of novelist and playwright Hagedorn whose critically-acclaimed “Dogeaters” produced at The Public Theater in 2001 was called “imaginative and fluidly impressionistic” by The New York Times.

In “Felix Starro,” protagonist Felix is a famous faith healer in the Philippines, whose clients once included celebrities and big politicians. After falling on hard times, Felix decides to go to San Francisco for one last healing mission with ailing Filipinos in the Bay Area. Junior, Felix’s 19-year-old, orphan grandson, goes along as his assistant. Unbeknownst to Felix, Junior has plans of his own.

“Felix Starro” explores issues of faith, family, love, loss, betrayal, and what it means to be an undocumented immigrant in America.

Alan Ariano debuts on Ma-Yi as Felix Starro.
Nacho Tambunting plays Junior.

The cast for “Felix Starro” includes Alan Ariano as Felix Starro, Caitlin Cisco as Crystal, Francisca Muñoz as Mrs. Delgado, Ryan James Ortega as Bobby/Ramon, Diane Phelan as Charma, Nacho Tambunting as Junior, and Obie and Lortel award-winner Ching Valdes-Aran as Flora.    

This is Alan Ariano’sMa-Yi debut. He was on the Lincoln Center Revival of “The King and I,”and on the National Tour of “Flower Drum Song,” and has played regional theaters all over the country. He was on TV’s “Law & Order” and has a recurring appearance on “Law & Order: SVU.”

Nacho Tambunting, who playsJunior, was born and raised in Manila. He began his career with Repertory Philippines in 2006 appearing in productions like “The Sound of Music,” “Peter Pan,” and “The Producers.” He moved to NYC in 2014 to attend NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and later graduated with a BFA in Drama. His TV credits include “Dickinson” and “The First Wives Club.”  

The creative team also includes Obie award-winner Marsha Ginsberg (scenic design), Becky Bodurtha (costume design), Oliver Wason (lighting design), Julian Evans (sound design), Paulo K Tiról (orchestrations), Ian Miller (musical director), Cristina Sison (production stage manager), and Jorge Z. Ortoll (executive producer).

Founded in 1989, the award-winning Ma-Yi Theater Company — Drama Desk, Lortel, and Obie Awards – is an Off-Broadway not-for-profit organization whose primary mission is to develop and produce new and innovative plays by Asian American writers. Since its founding, Ma-Yi has distinguished itself as one of the country’s leading incubators of new work shaping the national discourse about what it means to be Asian American today.

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