“On This Side of the World” new musical tells the story of Filipinos chasing the American dream

NEW YORK — “Song cycle” musical theater is making a comeback, thanks to a Filipino composer and lyricist of “On This Side of the World” – a new show about Filipino immigrants, performed by Filipinos on broadway.

A new musical that audiences say has the makings of an “obra maestra” is taking shape in lower Manhattan.

“On This Side of the World” is a collection of familiar stories told by the thousands of Filipinos who leave the homeland every single day to chase their American dreams.

“We are playing Filipinos, but everyone knows an immigrant, everyone came here to some sort of amazing journey of their family tree.”

Composer and lyricist Paulo Tiról says it all started as a school project, while he was pursuing his Master’s in musical theater writing at NYU in 2013.

And thanks to Access Theater and to a creative engagement grant from the lower Manhattan cultural council – Tiról’s project is now a full-on song-cycle musical with a mission.

“These are stories that no one else is telling, stories people are hungry to hear, stories that you don’t see represented in the new york theater stage… so it’s just been an honor.”

Breathing life into Tiról’s characters are some of Broadway’s best Filipino-American talent.

Jaygee Macapugay, who has played a number of different characters on stage including Imelda Marcos on “Here Lies Love,” says “it does seem like there’s a movement happening” in search for more untold stories such as the Filipino-American experience to be told in theater.

“It’s not like there haven’t been Filipino writers, or Asian American writers, but now they’re getting more exposure and people want to hear these stories. I  hope it’s an upward trend that’s gonna continue and for the world, movies like ‘Crazy Rich Asians have proven its commercial success, so why not also on this side of the world.”

Song-cycle musical theater fans can still catch ‘On This Side of the World’ at the access theater in Tribeca until May 12.

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