They say that life inspires art, and real-life experiences can often give birth to the most impactful and beautiful works of creative genius. Perhaps it’s because they are driven by purpose and passion that cannot be faked, but the magic happens when a life-altering experience motivates an artist to tell their story.
This is precisely what is at the heart and soul of “¡Americano!, The Musical.” The off-Broadway play tells the life story of Antonio “Tony” Valdovinos, a Mexican American who found out on his 18th birthday that he was born in Mexico and is an undocumented immigrant.
Tony’s secret was exposed when he attempted to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps to defend his country, a dream he had held onto since the attacks on 9/11 when he was only in 6th grade.
But on his 18th birthday, Tony’s parents finally told him the truth, and his life changed forever.
Like many other Dreamers, Tony grew up unaware of his undocumented status. Growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, Valdovinos was determined to enlist his entire childhood and high school years. He never imagined that he could be an undocumented immigrant, a Dreamer, and that his truth could stand in the way of all his hopes for the future.
Now, his emotional story and journey have become “¡Americano!,” a musical presented by Quixote Productions and Chicanos Por La Causa. This Arizona non-profit works to end discrimination against the Mexican American community.
Valdovinos also serves as consulting producer for the show, and he knew he was involved in something big when the concept was initially presented to him.
“I was approached by these creative people who wanted to write a story of an immigrant. They had read an article about me. I met with them and told them my whole life story,” he told The Shubert Organization. “Imagine someone calling you out of the blue, and then a year or so later, you hear 20 songs involving the most intimate details of your life? These incredible artists were investing their best talent in depicting some of my most personal challenges.”
It was a challenging experience that was well worth the emotional effort.
“This journey is worth it to share the story of Dreamers and what their families are going through. And now, to see our story opening in New York, that’s a dream that I had never even considered dreaming. I hope that ¡Americano! will inspire, unite, and put a smile on audiences’ faces.”
“¡Americano!” doesn’t just tell the story of an immigrant and what it means to be American. It sheds a very personal and real light on what Dreamers go through every day.
At a time when immigration is front and center of political debates and can sometimes feel frustrating, confusing, and so complicated, this show tries to make it more human.
Ameri-Chicana singer-songwriter Carrie Rodriguez and choreographer Sergio Meji lend their talents to the show, using music and movement to highlight the melting pot of America and the many ways immigrants help pave the way for this country.
While the show’s 12-week limited engagement ends June 19th, stay tuned for more dates.
You can also stream the original “¡Americano!” concept album on Amazon Music, Apple Music, and Spotify.