Pinoys on Broadway Week: A continuing celebration of talent and representation

Giselle Tongi-Walters - The Philippine Star
Pinoys on Broadway Week: A continuing celebration of talent and representation
Jasmine Forsberg as Jane Seymour belts Heart of Stone in SIX the Musical on Broadway.
Photo by Joan Marcus

MANILA, Philippines — This Broadway Week, let’s

raise a glass (or a halo, as the case may be) to the rising stars of the Filipino-American community who are illuminating the biggest stage in the world with their talent and tenacity.

On the electrifying stage of SIX, two powerful Pinays are making their mark: Jasmine Forsberg and Sierra Fermin. Forsberg, a veteran of the SIX national tour, is currently bedazzling in the Broadway stage as the captivating Jane Seymour. Her journey began in family karaoke nights, microphone in hand, long before the dazzling lights of Broadway beckoned.

Forsberg, a veteran of the SIX national tour, currently bedazzles the Broadway stage as the captivating Jane Seymour. Her journey began during family karaoke nights, microphone in hand, long before the dazzling lights of Broadway beckoned. Her unwavering support system, including two brothers who chose more traditional paths in medicine and IT, constantly fueled her artistic dreams. Now, belting out her vocals eight shows a week, Forsberg has learned the delicate art of caring for her instrument — her powerhouse voice, a testament to the dedication required to shine on Broadway.

A Chicago native fresh out of college, Sierra Fermin, joins SIX the Musical as alternate. — Photo from Sierra’s Instagram

Fermin, a Chicago native fresh out of college, embodies the “anything is possible” spirit. Joining the SIX company as an alternate, she juggles three tracks while eagerly awaiting her moment in the spotlight. And what a moment it was!

Jasmine singing as a young girl.

As we were writing this article, news broke that Fermin would be taking the stage that very evening, increasing the Filipino representation in the cast to a remarkable one-third when she and Forsberg share the spotlight. The sisterhood of support between these two stars showcases an endearing quality from such young performers.

Marc dela Cruz is part of the multi-awarded Hamilton musical. — Photo from artist’s Instagram

Across the Great White Way, another Filipino star shines. Red Concepcion, who honed his craft in Manila’s vibrant theater scene, made his Broadway debut this month as Amos in the iconic Chicago. His journey from the Philippines to the pinnacle of American theater is a testament to the power of dreams and perseverance.

Red Concepcion essays Amos Hart in Chicago the Musical. — Photo by Andoy Ranay

His past credits, including the Philippine production of Rent and the international tour of Miss Saigon, showcase his versatility and talent. I can’t tell you enough how happy I am he is in this show and may be the reason I see it for the nth time.

The founders of The Industry Standard Group (TISG).

And let’s not forget the incredibly handsome and talented Marc dela Cruz, the standby for Broadway’s groundbreaking Hamilton. Half-Japanese, half-Filipino, Dela Cruz credits his Seattle theater community for fostering his love for the stage. Now, he navigates the demanding life of a standby, mastering multiple tracks and preparing for the possibility of stepping into the spotlight at a moment’s notice.

Playbill recently chronicled his remarkable feat of switching roles mid-show during intermission, showcasing his talent and adaptability when he went from playing Hamilton to Lafayette.

These individual triumphs are not isolated instances. They are part of a larger movement fueled by The Industry Standard Group (TISG), a community-based organization co-founded by Filipinos Adam Hyndman, Rob Laqui, and Miranda Goh — my fellow co-producers on the groundbreaking musical Here Lies Love.

Born from the collective experience of eight BIPOC collaborators across 75-plus Broadway shows, TISG aims to disrupt the traditional power structures of the theater industry. Their mission? To create opportunities for BIPOC investors, producers, artists, and theater-makers to contribute, invest in, and produce diverse projects. Through initiatives like Second Act Theatrical Capital, TISG is paving the way for a more equitable and inclusive future for theater. Check out their website to get involved at https://theindustrystandardgroup.com/.

So, this Broadway Week, let’s celebrate the Filipino artists lighting up the stage and the organizations working to ensure their voices are heard. Let’s fill the theaters, not just for the dazzling performances, but for the promise of a brighter, more representative future for the arts.

Catch these #Filipinomenal talents in action: SIX the Musical at Lena Horne Theatre, 256 W 47th St., New York, NY 10036 (https://sixthemusical.com); Chicago: Ambassador Theatre, 219 W 46th St., New York, NY 10036 (https://www.chicagothemusical.com); and Hamilton: Richard Rodgers Theatre, 226 W 46th St., New York, NY 10036 (https://hamiltonmusical.com).

And remember, when you support these talented artists and organizations, you’re not just enjoying a show; you’re investing in a future where the curtain rises on a more diverse and inclusive world of theater. Plus, the ongoing Broadway week which runs until Feb. 4 has 50 percent, 2 for 1 tickets so all the more accessible to see our people on these stages!

Watch my full interviews with them by going to www.filamartsla.org.

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