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Home / Life! / Entertainment / ‘Mix-Mix: The Filipino Adventures of a German Jewish Boy’ opens in LA this May

‘Mix-Mix: The Filipino Adventures of a German Jewish Boy’ opens in LA this May

by Staff
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Inspired by a little-known true story from World War II, “Mix-Mix: The Filipino Adventures of a German Jewish Boy,” written by Boni B. Alvarez and directed by Playwrights’ Arena founding artistic director Jon Lawrence Rivera, is set to open May 18 at The Los Angeles Theatre Center. 

“Mix-Mix” centers on 13-year-old Rudy Preissman, whose newfound tropical refuge in the Philippines after escaping Nazi Germany is upended when Japan invades the islands — forcing his family and their Filipino friends to hide out in the heights and depths of sacred Mount Banahao.

The play is based on the real-life story of Ralph J. Preiss, who, at age 93, currently lives in New York and is planning to fly to Los Angeles for opening night on May 18.

“Philippines President Manuel Quezon saved over 1,000 Jews with his ‘Open Door’ policy, even as most Jews were being refused entry around the world,” explains Rivera. “The Philippines, a developing country, was able to get these people out. It’s a story you don’t hear much about, and we’re delighted to present it during Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.”

Ralph Preiss (middle) with his parents before leaving the Philippines to attend MIT in the U.S. | Photo courtesy of Lisa Preiss Frie

“One would think the journey to get from Germany to the Philippines would be enough of a story in itself,” continues Alvarez. “Add to that spending four months in the jungle on a mountain hiding out from the Japanese, being put in charge of chaperoning a famous Filipina movie star, and meeting the President.”

In January 2020, Preiss was invited to speak to the United Nations at a special event in observance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. A close friend of the family happened to invite Los Angeles arts advocate and consultant Olga Garay-English to watch on Zoom.

Ralph J. Preiss speaking before the U.N. January 27, 2020. | Photo courtesy of LATC

“I thought, this is a story that needs to be told,” says Garay-English, who was able to connect Rivera, born in Manila, and Alvarez, who is of Filipino descent, with Preiss. “Ralph has been a big part of the development process, and Jon and Boni have the savvy and sophistication to bring his lived experience together in a highly theatrical way. The play is told from the point of view of the kids: Ralph and his Filipino friends think this is all a great, grand adventure despite the dangers of the Japanese Occupation.”

As part of the development process, “Mix-Mix” received a staged reading at the Skirball Cultural Center. When Latino Theater Company presented a second reading late last year, artistic director Jose Luis Valenzuela immediately knew it was something the company wanted to produce. “This is the kind of play that exemplifies our mission to start cross-cultural conversations,” he says.

“Mix-Mix” is a direct English translation of the Tagalog word “Halo-Halo,” the name of a popular Filipino dessert that’s a mixture of jellies, tapioca pearls, fruit, beans, corn, shaved ice, condensed milk and ice cream — a perfect metaphor for the mixed cultures that came together as the world contended with the horrors of World War II.

“Mix-Mix: The Filipino Adventures of a German Jewish Boy” opens on Saturday, May 18 at 8 p.m., with performances thereafter on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. through June 16. Six preview performances take place May 9 through May 17 on the same schedule. Tickets range from $10 to $48, except opening night which is $75 and includes a post-performance reception.

The Los Angeles Theatre Center is located at 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90013. Parking is available for $8 with box office validation at Los Angeles Garage Associate Parking structure, 545 S. Main St., Los Angeles, CA 90013 (between 5th and 6th Streets, just behind the theater).

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