Antonio “Tony” Valdovino dreamed of the day he might enlist within the US Marine Corp. Although solely a sixth grader on 9/11, he vowed to defend his nation whereas watching the day’s tragic occasions. On his 18th birthday, he tried enlisting however uncovered a secret which crushed his ambition. Valdovino’s dad and mom by no means informed him he was born in Mexico — or that he was an undocumented immigrant.
Although the DREAM Act by no means handed into regulation, younger immigrants who lack papers and had been dropped at america as kids are sometimes referred to as “Dreamers.” So are these granted some protections by means of Deferred Motion for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which allows them to keep within the nation, offered they match sure standards.
Now, Valdovino’s life story has change into a brand new off-Broadway musical. Known as “¡Americano!,” the present is offered by Quixote Productions together with Chicanos For La Trigger, an Arizona non-profit which works to finish discrimination in opposition to the Mexican American group. The present runs by means of June twenty first at New World Phases in midtown Manhattan.
A sturdy artistic staff is behind ¡Americano!, together with composer Carrie Rodriguez, who’s nominated for a 2022 Drama Desk Award for her work on the present, and former New York Occasions
Tony, how did your inspiring story change into a musical?
Tony Valdovino: I had achieved loads of work politically for years earlier than the Phoenix Theatre reached out. They interviewed me, calling me a few week after, and stated they wished to maneuver ahead with making this manufacturing. I did not know what that actually meant on the time. Right here we’re seven years later, off Broadway. It has been an unimaginable journey.
Carrie, how did you change into concerned?
Carrie Rodriguez: I had no historical past with musical theater. I might been to 1 musical earlier than — “Something Goes” — as a 10-year-old on a New York Metropolis journey. I’ve carried out in musicals. I am a violinist and have performed within the pit orchestras for a couple of. However actually, zero historical past.
Out of the blue, I acquired a telephone name from the producer, asking if I might be all in favour of writing music for this unique musical. He informed me about Tony. I began performing some analysis. Every week or two later, I flew to Phoenix to fulfill Tony. The entire time, I am pondering, ‘I am a folks singer/songwriter. I am not certified to do that.’ However how might I say no? That is the best alternative of my life to inform Tony’s story, to attach with People and assist change minds.
And also you, Fernanda?
Fernando Santos: I might coated this story as a journalist in Arizona however by no means felt fulfilled. I wished to have the ability to go on the market and present my outrage that each one these years for the reason that first model of the DREAM Act was proposed, we nonetheless haven’t discovered a decision for these folks we name “Dreamers.” They don’t seem to be all DACA recipients. There are nonetheless tens, if not a whole bunch, of 1000’s of them who haven’t any papers, no form of authorization.
I used to be, at that time, a university professor writing a ebook. Jason Rose, the present’s producer, requested me to affix the writing staff with Michael Barnard and Jonathan Rosenberg. They had been working with Carrie. I stated, ‘I do not write musicals. That is not my factor.’ He requested me to consider it. Primary, I fell in love with this story. Quantity two, I felt this was my likelihood to spotlight the great People, like Tony, which can be DREAMers. Third, as an immigrant, form of ‘younger, scrappy, and hungry,’ I used to be ‘not going to throw away my shot’ to cite from “Hamilton.”
I began out as a newspaper author. I now write opinion columns for The Washington Publish. I’ve written quite a few private essays. I’ve written a ebook of narrative nonfiction. I am now engaged on a memoir. Who says that I am unable to do this different form of writing? If I do not attempt, I will by no means know.
I am fortunate to work with a tremendous staff that took me in, has amplified my strengths, and taught me lots. We’re breaking boundaries, placing ourselves in positions the place folks like us should not normally seen.
At this 12 months’s Oscars, Latinos had been seen like by no means earlier than. Is it an indication that alternatives are opening for the group?
Carrie: That is a tricky one. I do really feel we’re nonetheless severely underrepresented. I’ve felt that means all through my whole profession — as a girl, as a Latina. I acquired began within the folks/Americana world as a singer, songwriter, and fiddle participant. One of many first massive festivals I performed was within the South. There have been some 20,000 folks there. I bear in mind searching into the viewers at everybody’s faces and pondering, ‘I am the one Latina right here, not simply on the stage, however on this complete music competition.’
However like Fernanda stated, the very best factor we will do is be seen. We want younger Latinos saying, ‘Wow, a Latina is the songwriter for this musical? Possibly I can do this, too.’
Fernanda: Initially from Brazil, I am additionally an American naturalized citizen. There’s this prevailing definition of mainstream, based mostly upon an Anglo-Saxon thought of america, that has not likely served our folks properly. Subsequently, anybody like Carrie, like Tony, like me, our tales are on the sides. We’re the opposite folks, the ‘minorities.’
Effectively, the quickest rising class within the census was the combined class. Persons are coming to some extent the place they understand they’re greater than only one factor. What’s the mainstream if we’ve a rustic that is altering? If we’ve a brand new American majority that’s not an Anglo-Saxon majority? Who’re we making artwork for? Who’re we writing for? Who’re we creating TV and audio tales for?
“Americano!” is exhibiting that there are numerous folks of coloration who will go to the theater. However theater makers by no means actually stopped — till perhaps Lin-Manuel Miranda — to have a look at the viewers and say, ‘Let’s create a narrative in regards to the people who find themselves sitting there watching this musical and put it on stage.’ There’s much more to us than West Facet Story.
What’s your favourite track or second from the present?
Fernanda: The track “Voice of the Unvoiced” has a ‘collectively, we’re stronger’ form of message. “For As we speak” is a wonderful track in regards to the struggle for what’s proper, a struggle for freedom. However there is a line that Ceci, the feminine lead, says to Tony, ‘Bear in mind, you’re the face of the New America.’ That is such an necessary line with so many meanings.
What’s yours, Carrie?
Carrie: I really feel the identical means as Fernanda about that line. Each time I hear it — and I’ve heard it many occasions now — I really feel very emotional. It is a abstract of what we have simply seen.
Musically, I’ve totally different favorites on totally different nights. One among my favorites is “Dreamer,” the track that ends Act I. It is the second that Tony has simply came upon that he is not documented and that his whole life has been lie. The heartache may be very uncooked. But additionally, his love for this nation is simply as a lot current in that track. Having these two issues aspect by aspect has a really massive influence emotionally for folks.
What about you, Tony?
Tony: I by no means wished to be a political organizer. I like what I do however I wished to affix the Marines. Anytime I hear the track “Come & Be a part of the Marines,” it actually offers me these years again, the years earlier than discovering out the reality.
I do not suppose Marines dance like they’re portrayed within the present. However that track has given me hope. I consider within the Marine Corps. It was an infantry marine who taught me to struggle with a pen, not a sword. Listening to that track offers me power.
“Americano!” will play at New World Phases (340 W. fiftieth Road) in New York Metropolis by means of June 19, 2022. Tickets are on sale on the field workplace, by telephone, or by way of Telecharge.com.
Take heed to The Revolución Podcast full episode that includes Antonio Valdovinos, Carrie Rodriguez, and Fernanda Santos with co-hosts Kathryn Garcia Castro, Linda Lane Gonzalez, and Courtroom Stroud, on Apple Podcasts, iHeartMedia, spotify, Google, Amazonor by clicking right here.