One of NYC’s busiest and most talented musical multi-hyphenates, as well as a dedicated advocate for the Latine immigrant community of musical theater artists, Mexican-born Jaime Lozano has some exciting new projects and shows that will play this month at the Lucille Lortel Theatre and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
Earlier this year, the Lortel launched Immigrant Experiences, a new musical theater development program focused on the works of immigrant playwrights and composers in partnership with The New School’s College of Performing Arts. Current graduate students at the College were invited to submit a statement of intent to develop a musical theater composition based on the immigrant experience. The seven emerging artists – Giancarlo Abrahan, Xiaokang Deng, Chicahua Zipactonal Martínez, Manel Paret, Cassie Shao, Carrie Shao, and Anamaria Willars Vargas, representing China, Mexico, the Philippines, Spain, and the US – were then tasked with creating musical theater songs inspired by their personal experience or subjects close to them. For many of them, this was their first time writing diverse, bold, and heartfelt storytelling songs for the stage, illuminating the melting pot of cultural influences of America and its complex history.
The new fifteen-week program of classes hosted at The New School and led by Lozano, with guest teachers Helen Park, Nathan Tysen, and others helping mentor and advise participants in the development process, will culminate at the Lortel Theatre on Monday, May 15, at 7 pm, with a free concert of newly authored musical theater storytelling songs. Performed by a cast of Broadway artists (including Kathryn Allison, Robi Hager, Kendyl Ito, Marina Pires, Imani Russell, James Seol, and Alex Vinh) and a three-piece band (Music Director Ben Moss on piano, Yahir Montes on guitar/bass, and Joel E Mateo on drums/percussion), the show gives the up-and-coming student composers and playwrights an invaluable opportunity to collaborate with professional performers, a music director, and a director (Adrian Alexander Alea).
According to Jaime, “Knowing my background and my passion for my own stories and the immigrant community, the Lucille Lortel Theatre reached out to me to create, together with The New School, a very special class in musical theater songwriting with a focus on immigrant stories. We are celebrating the end of the semester with a very special concert of new songs in process by the outstanding students I had the pleasure to partner with in the program.”
Michael Heitzman, Lucille Lortel Theatre’s Artistic Director of New Musical Development, noted, “Immigrant Experiences is a part of Lucille Lortel Theatre’s mission to create a larger, more diverse community of theater makers . . . We are thrilled to have Jaime Lozano shepherd this inaugural program given his expertise as a composer and lyricist and his experience teaching at Mexico’s Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León. We are excited to present the material created during this semester by these talented graduate students and the newest generation of theater artists.”
Jaime strongly believes that, “Musical theater saves and changes lives. As an immigrant musical theater writer myself, it has been an honor and a great learning experience to be part of this program and to help these writers in their journey to find their voices. We need more diverse stories. We need those stories to come from those related to them. I am grateful for the support from the Lucille Lortel Theatre and The New School for making this unique class a reality and one of a kind, just like every single one of the participants.”
In addition to the Lortel program, Jaime will be performing, as part of his residency at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, a free concert version of Florencia Cuenca & Jaime Lozano: Broadway en Spanglish on Thursday, May 18, at 7:30 pm, at the David Rubenstein Atrium, with other shows to come over the next months. He told me, “For the Lincoln Center Presents concert I will be doing different projects I am working on, starting with the things I love the most: musical theater (Broadway); Mexican music (mariachi); and my wife [Florencia Cuenca]. We’ll also be doing new arrangements of Broadway songs, a concert of my songs from projects like Frida, Desaparecidas, Present Perfect, and more musicals I’m working on, and a release concert for my new album Songs by an Immigrant, Vol. 2 – always with my Latine Familia of amazing performers from Broadway and beyond.”
He added that, “I feel so honored and blessed to be able to call such important organizations as Lincoln Center, The Lucille Lortel Theatre, and The Public Theater [where he recently completed a residency] home. As an immigrant, it hasn’t been easy to make my stories, our stories, heard. I have been working very hard, following in the footsteps of many amazing artists and storytellers before me and trying to make them proud. I am grateful to have found these ‘homes,’ and I am grateful for all the love and support they show to me and my Familia.”
Florencia Cuenca & Jaime Lozano: Broadway en Spanglish plays on Thursday, May 18, 7:30 pm, at the David Rubenstein Atrium, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Broadway, between 62nd and 63rd Street, NYC. This event is free and open to the public; seating and entry are on a first-come, first-served basis.