Mamma Mia! There’s a Filipina in my play

Catherine Ricafort. Press photo

By Cristina DC Pastor

What a difference six years makes.

In 2006, my family watched “Mamma Mia” and enjoyed every musical minute of ABBA’s songs. Over the years that friends would come visit New York and ask what Broadway show to take in, I would suggest this delightful pop culture theater.

For the fifth time last Saturday, I watched it again with a good friend who is not a visiting tourist but an unapologetic ABBA fan. To my surprise, a Filipina was in the cast. Catherine Ricafort played Ali, one of the two friends of Sophie Sheridan, the young woman on a pre-nuptial mission to find out which of her mother’s ex-boyfriends would acknowledge paternity and walk her down the aisle.

Another FilAm on Broadway! Not surprising anymore as Filipinos – whose DNA are predisposed to singing and dancing — are said to be the biggest ethnic group on Broadway. Comely Catherine, a California native, is the latest addition to the growing league of FilAms ‘browning’ the Great White Way.

It’s easy to spot Catherine the minute she and Lisa leap on stage to surprise Sophie who is reading her letters to her three possible dads. The character had her in pigtails and wearing glasses, her Asian-ness clearly showing through. And her costumes were not very provocative.

A graduate of the University of Southern California, Catherine has a B.S. Industrial & Systems Engineering degree and a minor in Musical Theatre. She moved to New York in late 2009 and lost no time sharpening her performing skills. She appeared on NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” an a cappella competition. She also toured the country playing the Chinese American character Connie, who is aspiring to be a Broadway dancer, in “A Chorus Line.”

Two years later, the Winter Garden Theater is now her stage and “Mamma Mia” her world.

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