Another Filipino takes the lead on Broadway’s Aladdin
Edu Jarque (The Philippine Star) - March 12, 2018 - 12:00am

With Ilocano and Bicolano bloodlines, a Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate from Montclair State University in New Jersey, Joshua dela Cruz disclosed in an earlier interview that working with other Filipino-Americans reminded him of fiestas.

MANILA, Philippines — As I settled on my seat at the New Amsterdam Theater on 42nd Street in New York’s Broadway eager to watch the Disney-inspired and One Thousand and One Nights adventure Aladdin, I immediately flipped through the complimentary Showbill — essentially a mini-magazine about the night’s program.

The pre-show habit I have acquired through the years while on foreign assignment promoting and marketing our islands, both in London and Los Angeles — with frequent visits to the Big Apple — was to know “Who’s Who” in the cast. But on this particular evening — due to the sudden surprise discovery of a couple from Cebu who were on the same row — we missed the booming voice of the announcer as he blared the names of the entire roster of substitute roles of artists for this particular performance.

Our travel buddies stared at each other upon hearing the name Joshua dela Cruz, a moniker that is curiously, unmistakably Filipino. Flipping quickly through my pamphlet to confirm his nationality, the lights went off and the show was on!

As the cast appeared on stage one by one, we immediately spotted him — and we were certain he was Filipino.

Soon, we realized he was taking on the titular role. Another Filipino in Broadway in a lead role!

We have experienced several times the Filipino-filled casts of Miss Saigon and have likewise seen through the years fellow countrymen in Les Misérables, Here Lies Love, The King and I and Flower Drum Song. Today, Aladdin proudly takes its place among these memorable musicals, to be a part of global theater history.

As the performance ended — as if we didn’t know — his nationality was totally given away by his Showbill bio dedication for family and friends, which read: “Para sa mga mahal ko sa buhay.

We can imagine the tough world of theater — where we often hear about hardcore stuff of devastating nightmares — lengthy auditions which consist of rehearsing new songs, dances and dialog, delivered in front of scrutinizing directors and producers.

Joshua was previously a part of non-Broadway Here Lies Love and Merrily We Roll Along.

Recovering from a knee surgery — which caused him to miss the opening night — he was quickly assigned to play the main character on his second day back on set, and has since flawlessly executed it on stage.

After all the proverbial blood sweat and tears, he eventually made his Broadway debut in Aladdin, admittedly one of his most favorite Disney movies.

With Ilocano and Bicolano bloodlines, a Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate from Montclair State University in New Jersey, Joshua disclosed in an earlier interview that working with other Filipino-Americans reminded him of fiestas.

“It’s a huge family backstage. We know that there will always be lots of food,” he shared.

He proposed to his fiancée Amanda Phillips, accompanied by a choreographed music video of Frank Sinatra’s You Make Me Feel So Young, which was shot in New York’s Central Park. You might have even seen it go viral.

With all our Kababayan celebrated on the various spotlights — juggling and shuffling through various roles and tasks each and every night somewhere in the world — it makes us proud, as we all encourage them with our applause to keep on reaching for the brightest of stars.

ALADDIN BACHELOR OF FINE ARTS JOSHUA DELA CRUZ MONTCLAIR STATE UNIVERSITY NEW YORK’S BROADWAY ONE THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS
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