love letters to the object of his affection.
The Laguna production is the West Coast premiere of the play,
first unveiled a year ago, but the story itself dates back to the
first half of the 20th century. Author Bulosan came to the United
States in 1931 and worked as a factory and farm worker for many years
before becoming a labor activist.
His most famous book, "America is the Heart," fictionalized the
squalid working conditions of Filipino laborers, and President
Franklin D. Roosevelt commissioned him to write the essay "Four
Freedoms." His activism earned him a place on Sen. Joseph McCarthy's
blacklist of anti-American activity, and he died in 1956.
Bulosan's story of Magno Rubio was dramatized by playwright Lonnie
Carter and staged for the first time last October by the MaYi Theater
Company in New York. The production won eight Obie (off-Broadway)
Four members of the original production -- Art Acuna, Ron Domingo,
Jojo Gonzales and Ramon de Ocampo -- have come west to repeat their
roles in the Laguna production, along with director Loy Arcenas, who
also designed the setting. Only Orville Mendoza is a newcomer to the
"This romantic comedy joyously entertains with inspired silliness,
kinetic movement, verse and song and a mix of English, broken
English, broken Spanish and Tagalog [Filipino] dialogue," according
to Richard Stein, executive director of the Laguna Playhouse.
"The Romance of Magno Rubio" was hailed by the New York Times as
offering "a thoroughly endearing ensemble," while the New York Post
commented, "Love, Filipino style [is] an intriguing mixture of verse,
music and dialogue [with] impressive performances from the five
Preview performances have been offered all week, winding up
tonight. Opening night is Saturday with regular performances
following nightly except Mondays at 8 p.m. (weekend matinees at 2
p.m. and Sunday evenings at 7 p.m.) Through Dec. 7.
There will be no Thanksgiving Day performance, nor will the play
be stated on the evening of closing day. Call the playhouse at (949)
497-2787 for ticket information.
* TOM TITUS reviews local theater for the Coastline Pilot.