Las Vegas Diva Singer Headlines Musical Show In Chicago

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO (jGLi) – Filipino American Las Vegas diva Lani Misalucha will be featured as Inang Bayan (Mother Country) during the world premier of “Rizal’s Sweet Stranger, The Musical” (Untold Stories of Josephine Bracken) on Friday (Sept. 23) at 7:30 p.m. and on Saturday (Sept. 24) at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the St. Scholastica Academy Theater on 7416 North Ridge Blvd., Chicago, Illinois.

The show is a glimpse of the Philippine’s National Hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, love affair with his foreign-born (Irish Hong Kong) wife, Josephine Bracken, rumored to be a whore and an alleged spy for the Spanish friars.

Born 150 years ago this year, Rizal was a multitalented intellectual, an award-winning poet and writer, a polyglot, a scientist, a Doctor of Medicine, specializing in Ophthalmology. Of all his passions and pursuits, Rizal is best remembered as a political activist, whose writings inspired the Philippine revolution, which ultimately led to his public execution by Spanish colonial authorities in the Philippines.

“Rizal’s Sweet Stranger, the Musical” showcases the best that Filipinos and Filipino-Americans can offer Chicago,” says Louella M. Cabalona, one of the promoters of the musical show.   “This world premiere musical brings together one of the highly acclaimed international directors we have, a world-class Filipina singer, a powerhouse cast of actors, the premiere Filipino Folk Fusion band in the Midwest and the oldest Fil-American community theater group celebrating its 20th performance season.”

SamaSama Project’s major production in cooperation with Circa Pintig celebrating Rizal’s sesquicentennial will breath life into the original musical by internationally acclaimed Director Dr. Anton Juan, Jr., a professor at University of Notre Dame du lac in Indiana.

Aside from Ms. Misalucha, the musical stars Filipino American actors Ariel Dayanghirang and Chip Payos (Jose Rizal) and Toni Gomez and Elizabeth Tuazon (Josephine Bracken), Bert Matias, Levi Aliposa, Nicole Dizon, Josephine Bracken in Baro’t Saya Vien (Joey) Flores, Evelyn Masbaum, Georges Augustin, Jovie Calma, Daniel Estorco, Charles Gareza, Hope Kim, Dylan Lainez, Anthony Martinez, Je Nepomuceno, Angel Pabalan, Tatum Pearlman, Emilia Ramos, Logan Ramos, Mae Vidal, Patrick Viray and Michael Baylon.

Original music composed by a pair of very talented composers, Dr. Cleofe Guangko Casambre and William Elvin Manzano, the show will have Baron Lloyd Cabalona as Musical Director.

The band, SamaSama Project (Baron, Ran Sevilla, Lee Maningas, Josh Torres) will be providing music for the show along with some awesome musicians, Dr. Cleofe Guangko Casambre on  piano, Mike Querubin on Guitars/Keys and Emilio Nicolasin on Kulintang!

A multi-awarded Filipina singer, Ms. Misalucha began her career at the age of 17 in the Philippines, recording audio guides for background tracks (multiplex) of popular songs of Toni Braxton, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, and Barbara Streisand.  This paved the way for her singing career that has since thrilled audiences all over the world.

She was dubbed as Asia’s Nightingale by MTV Asia as she collected various singing awards and recorded hit singles. In 2004, Lani became the first Asian female performer to headline Las Vegas. She has been called “Siren of the Strip” by Show Biz Magazine on their cover and “The New Diva of Las Vegas” by What’s On Magazine. In March 2008, Lani was voted “Best Singer” (staff pick) in the “27th Annual Best of Las Vegas” by the Las Vegas Review Journal. She is presently filming for the pilot season of her TV Show, “It’s Vegas With Lani” premiering in Las Vegas TV networks on Cable.

Cabalona also adds, “We are so thrilled to have these big names sharing our objective to bring Filipino history and culture to a bigger audience and it is our hope that our kababayans (countrymen) and friends will support this project and take advantage of this opportunity”. (

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