Filipino singer Lito Villareal on artists’ special gift to lift spirits during challenging times

Singer Lito Villareal counts performing at the 2018 Oscars with Keala Settle as one of the highlights of his career.

Up until late last year, he was living in Los Angeles.

When an opportunity to move to New York came for the theater-obsessed Fil-Am singer, he jumped at the chance, not knowing that the city will become the early epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

As the city’s death toll rose, with little warning, he was asked to move out by his landlord.

It was a challenging time but he took comfort in his circle of theater friends.

Villareal started his career in the Philippines as a songwriter, and transitioned into performing and continued it when he moved to the U.S.

“What I found out is that in times of crisis, in hard times, people run and depend on artists to lift spirits. We have a very special gift.”

It is because of this sense of responsibility that artists like Villareal frequently join efforts to provide entertainment in whatever way they can, even while in lockdown.

Among the projects he was invited to be a part of was the “Seasons of Love” performance by the ASEAN musical theatre project, to show solidarity to people who have lost someone or are struggling due to the pandemic — and those who lost their livelihood due to theater closures.

In the meantime, whenever he can, Villareal walks through Broadway, dreaming of one day seeing it open again.

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