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Rainbow Stage mounting Manitoba's first fully Filipino musical

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Rainbow Stage is blazing a new trail with its latest production.

As part of its 70th anniversary season, the organization will host the world premiere of Ma-Buhay, a new musical featuring music and lyrics from Winnipeg’s Joseph Sevillo.

"We've predominately produced shows that you could have seen on Broadway already, really famous titles like "The Wizard of Oz," or even "Mary Poppins" this summer. So generally, these are the types of shows that our acting community gets to participate in,” said Carson Nattrass, the artistic director of Rainbow Stage. “But for the first time in 70 years, we've written our own."

Rainbow Stage said Ma-Buhay is the first fully Filipino musical in Manitoba and the first musical ever commissioned and developed by Rainbow Stage. It takes place in present-day Winnipeg, and follows three young Filipinos from different economic backgrounds as they compete in the grand finale of a prestigious singing competition.

Sevillo has been working in musical theatre for 20 years. He said they had more than 120 people from across Canada audition for the musical, which had 22 roles.

“Artists were given songs, acting scenes and two dance combinations to learn for the show,” Sevillo said. “It was very important that every artist in the ensemble were equipped with high skills in all genres of acting, singing and dancing to cover some of the leading roles.”

Among the actors taking part in the musical is Andrea Macasaet, who was recently on Broadway as part of the original cast of SIX. Macasaet, originally from Winnipeg, portrays Celina Davina Molina, and is excited for the role.

“I grew up without any all-Filipino productions,” she said. “So to come home and to lead one, to be a part of one, is a gift, I think it also showcases a range of the incredible artists that we have here in Winnipeg, from the Filipino community.

Macasaet said audiences can expect “out of this world” singing and top-notch choreography.

The show runs from June 26 to July 14. Tickets can be purchased on Rainbow Stage’s website.

With files from Jon Hendricks

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