LOS ANGELES, CA – East West Players (EWP), the nation’s longest-running Asian American theater and the largest producer of Asian American theatrical works presents the world premiere of On This Side of the World. With music and lyrics by DG member Paulo K Tirol and created with and directed by DG member Noam Shapiro, this soaring new musical takes flight at the David Henry Hwang Theater May 11 through June 4, 2023 with opening night on Sunday, May 14.
A woman flies from the Philippines to America with a one-way ticket and a suitcase full of stories. Each story is collected from immigrants who came before her—tales of overseas workers, young lovers, and gossipy church ladies; snapshots of undocumented immigrants, millennial princesses and first-generation Americans. Suspended above the ocean, she replays these stories in her mind as she searches for the courage to embrace her future. This world premiere musical gives voices to Filipino immigrants navigating old lives and new beginnings, eight-thousand miles from home.
East West Players producing artistic director Snehal Desai says “On This Side of the World is one of the most transporting and moving new musicals I have encountered in a long time. It explores the beautiful ways in which we immigrants contribute to the rich tapestry of what it is to be an Asian American. We’re proud to be able to premiere the world premiere of this humorous, inventive, and deeply heartfelt new musical in partnership with FilAm ARTS. With this production we hope to pay homage to and honor the countless immigrants before us who took the first, daring steps to leave all that they know behind with just a suitcase and their dreams in hopes of building a better life for themselves and their families.”
The cast of On This Side of the World comprises Steven-Adam Agdeppa* (EWP’s Crazy Talented Asians, The Wallis’ Invincible: The Musical, La Mirada Theatre’s Grease! and In the Heights), Zandi De Jesus (Miss Saigon, La Jolla Playhouse’s Most Wanted, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Nat’l Tour), Michael C. Palma* (EWP’s Mamma Mia! and Imelda: A New Musical), Cassie Simone* (La Mirada Theatre’s Hunchback of Notre Dame and RENT, A Noise Within’s Man of La Mancha), Andrea Somera (EWP’s Assassins, A Noise Within’s A Christmas Carol), Shaun Tuazon* (EWP’s Mamma Mia!, San Diego Rep’s Vietgone). Melvin Biteng (Disney Jr. Live: Costume Palooza Nat’l Tour, Avenue Q, Mamma Mia!) and Justine Rafael (EWP’s Crazy Talented Asians, Paris Las Vegas’ Bat Out Of Hell) understudy this production.
The creative team includes direction by Noam Shapiro, music direction by Jennifer Lin and Marc Macalintal, choreography by Anjanette Maraya-Ramey, orchestration by Ian Miller, scenic design by Yi-Chien Lee, projection design by David Murakami, costume design by Jaymee Ngernwichit, properties design by Glenn Michael Baker, lighting design by Szu-Yun Wang, and stage management by Edward Khris Fernandez*.
Paulo K Tiról (music and lyrics) is a composer, lyricist, and bookwriter originally from Manila, Philippines and now based in Jersey City, NJ. His work includes music and lyrics for On This Side of the World (created with and directed by Noam Shapiro; world premiere at East West Players; presentation at NAMT Festival 2020; residencies at the Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, Catwalk Art Institute, Access Theater; readings and workshops at East West Players, Musical Theatre West, Prospect Theater Co., Access Theatre / Three Hares); music, lyrics, and book for Dear America, adapted from the memoir of journalist and activist Jose Antonio Vargas (directed and book co-written by Noam Shapiro; residencies at the Drama League, Theater Latté Da, Catwalk Art Institute); music, lyrics, and book for Called (developed as a Dramatist Guild Foundation Fellow); and orchestrations for the off-Broadway musical Felix Starro (Ma-Yi Theater Co.). He was commissioned to contribute to Prospect Theater Co.’s off-Broadway song cycle Notes from Now, and Rattlestick Theater’s Gen Speak. He is also an award-winning composer of choral liturgical music, with work published by Oregon Catholic Press. Training: Ateneo de Manila University; Berklee; MFA Musical Theatre Writing from NYU Tisch (full-tuition scholarship); BMI. More at www.paulophonic.com.
Noam Shapiro (director and co-creator) is a DC and New York-based director and the Producing Artistic Director of Three Hares Theater. He is the 2022-2023 Drama League Next Stage Resident Director, where he is developing Dear America, adapted from the memoir of journalist and activist Jose Antonio Vargas, with Paulo K Tiról. Noam was the SDC Foundation’s inaugural Kurt Weill/Harold Prince Directing Fellow at Encores! New York City Center, a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, a Manhattan Theatre Club Directing Fellow, a Drama League First Draft Resident Artist, and a winner of OPERA-America’s Robert L.B. Tobin Director-Designer Prize for The Little Prince. His recent projects include On This Side of the World (East West Players; Rhinebeck Writers Retreat; NAMT Festival; Three Hares/Access Theater); Sweeney Todd (Yale Dramatic Association), Gonzo (LaGuardia Performing Arts Festival), Speaking as Then (Columbia University School of the Arts), Little League (Three Hares), The Laramie Project (Johns Hopkins Barnstormers), and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Lyra Theater). Associate Member of SDC. BA Yale. www.noamshapiro.com