Ma-buhay: The Next Big Musical

Photo credit: Ron Cantiveros | Filipino Journal

Local musical, “Ma-Buhay: Filipinos Singing for Their Lives,” recently held a successful free public reading for Draft 4 as part of its Phase 2 development. Created by talented Filipino-Canadian musical theatre artist,Joseph Sevillo,and presented by Rainbow Stage, the reading featured many songs and story elements and was presented to invited guests last April 1 at the Maples Theatre. The event provided Sevillo and his development team with valuable feedback that will help them further develop Phase 2. With the support of Rainbow Stage in a 3-phase development plan, Ma-Buhay is well on its way to hitting the stage for its world premiere in 2024.

Ma-buhay Musical, on the road to the world stage

“Ma-Buhay: Filipinos Singing for Their Lives,” is a local musical that celebrates the rich culture and talent of the Filipino-Canadian community. It is being created by Filipino musical theatre artist, Joseph Sevillo, with the goal of providing more opportunities for Filipino artists in professional theatre.

The story of Ma-Buhay is set in present-day Winnipeg and follows the journey of three young Filipinos from different economic backgrounds as they compete in a prestigious singing competition. With the whole country watching, these contestants fight to prove themselves to the judges and their families and show everyone they are worthy of the national title.

Rainbow Stage is proudly supporting the development of Ma-Buhay through a three-phase plan that aims to produce the world premiere production in 2024. With Phase 1 complete, the team is thrilled to move onto Phase 2, where they plan to introduce the musical to as many Manitobans as possible.

One exciting event from Phase 2 was the free public reading for Draft 4 held last April 1st at the Maples Theatre, which was presented before invited guests. The cast, which included David Clay Alpecho, Brady Barrientos, Francesca Catalla, Rochelle Kives, Marides Lazo, Logan MacDonald-Villegas, Ruby Padua, Robin Jordan Quintana, Pearl Salonga, Sarah Jane Salonga, Ronald Mervin Sison, Marini Tagarda, and Arnold Tongol, wowed the audience with their amazing performances. From hitting high musical notes to delivering hilarious punch lines, they left everyone wanting more.

The creative team behind Ma-Buhay is also a force to be reckoned with. It includes Dutchess Cayetano, Director; Joseph Sevillo, Playwright, and Assistant Director; Renate Rossol, Music Director; Carson Nattrass, Dramaturg; Kathryn Ball, Stage Manager; Joseph Aragon, Arranger, Tracks; Jasmine Wallace, Assistant Music Director; Keanna Caguioa, Assistant Stage Manager; Nadine Maranan, Apprentice Director; Hazel Wallace, Child Supervisor; Jeffrey Kohut, Associate Producer; Victoria Exconde, Assistant Producer; Robin Jordan Quintana, House Manager; Chryston Forbes-Dehaney, Technician; and Bailey Zavala-Torres, Technician. Mentor Joy Lazo was also present and expressed her pride and happiness in watching her students whom she has mentored through the years.

In July, Ma-Buhay will be part of the 2023 Winnipeg Fringe Festival through a workshop presentation that will showcase the music, choreography, and digital design. This presentation will give audiences a sneak peek into what’s to come and help build excitement for the world premiere in 2024.

Currently, the production is looking for sponsors to help support the remainder of the musical’s development and build its following throughout Phase 2. If you’re interested in discussing a sponsorship opportunity or want to learn more, you can contact

Ma-Buhay is an exciting and uplifting new musical that celebrates the Filipino-Canadian community’s talent, diversity, and resilience. With a talented cast and creative team, this musical promises to be a hit and a celebration of Filipino culture.

Photo credit: Jeffrey Kohut