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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 12, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 41
Remaking history
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Remaking history

Arnaldo! Drag Chanteuse gives an old musical new relevance

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

FLORODORA: REIMAGINED
FILIPINO COMMUNITY CENTER OF SEATTLE
October 19 & 20


Pinoy Words Expressed Kultura Arts, a Filipino arts and literary organization, presents Florodora: Reimagined, next weekend at the Filipino Community Center (5740 Martin Luther King Way S.).

The original Florodora is an 1899 English musical comedy set in the Philippines with book by Owen Hall, lyrics by E. Byrd Jones and Paul Rubens, and music by Leslie Stuart. An American businessman attempts to cheat a beautiful young Filipino heiress out of her rights to a famous perfume business by marrying her. The musical draws its name from the phrase flor (flower) odor (odor/scent) ahh (delightful), thought to be the Sampaguita, the national flower of the Philippines, from which the perfume is extracted. Set at the time of the Spanish-American War and growing U.S. imperialism, the musical has now been reworked to reflect a Filipino perspective.

It has been adapted by Charles Baker, co-producer Arnaldo! Drag Chanteuse, and director Maria Batayola.

'In a twist of fate, I am now performing the role of Lady Holyrood in Florodora: Reimagined and I am so very excited and challenged to play the part,' Arnaldo! told Seattle Gay News.

Arnaldo! Drag Chanteuse, best known for her cabaret act, explains what inspired her interest. 'Revival is important to me because of the relevance of the musical not only in the history of the American musical (Florodora was a huge success in both London and New York), but also with its timing in Filipino-American history (the Philippines became a U.S. colony in the late 1890s).

COUNTERING CULTURAL IMPERIALISM
'Though the setting was in the Philippines, the original script had no Filipino cultural references,' Arnaldo! continues. 'This provided us with an opportunity to adapt the material by making it more Filipino, thus reclaiming it in Florodora: Reimagined.'

Charles Baker adds, 'Florodora has had many revivals in its history and even a few in recent years. A revival of the original musical as it was performed in 1900 is not the aim of Florodora: Reimagined. Our goal instead is a respectful but radical transformation of the show, extending and sharpening the comedy and social commentary in a streamlined, coherent script.'

The production is funded by the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, ArtsCrush, the Filipino Community of Seattle, and individual donations to Pinoy Words Expressed Kultura Arts.

The October 19 show is free and starts at 7:30 p.m. The October 20 gala includes dinner and a special performance by the Filipino American Society Chorale. Dinner seating begins at 6 p.m. with the show at 7:30. Tickets can be purchased for $25 at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/276931.

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