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Theater Review: Mix-Mix: The Filipino Adventure of a German Jewish Boy

Mark McClain Wilson, Myra Cris Ocenar, Angelita Esperanza, Jill Remez and Giselle “G” Tongi in Mix-Mix. Photo by Grettel Cortes Photography.

As you carefully trot down the steep steps of the Los Angeles Theatre Center, you are instantly transported into the world of Rudy Preissman and company, who climb up and down their own steep mountain in the Philippines having not only fled Nazi Germany but now the Japanese invasion. Nine bodies span the width of the stage and almost immediately you are drawn into their intense flight. Boni B. Alvarez’s Mix-Mix: The Filipino Adventure of a German Jewish Boy is first and foremost a story of community and humanity but it also serves as a piece of little-known history.

Mix-Mix features brilliant ensemble work. It is incredibly apparent when a cast just gets along by how good they are at their job. Mark McClain Wilson and Myra Cris Ocenar, both veritable chameleons, leave you giggling like Frieda, the little schoolgirl, or wiping away tears from the palpable sincerity of their shared strife.

Alexis Camins’ boyish charm and Giselle “G” Tongi’s bubbly energy stand out as we are reminded to laugh even in the dark moments. We should remember to find joy and light in our hardest struggles, but the real beating heart of this production is the tender love and care given to these characters and each of their stories as written by playwright Alvarez.

Kennedy Kabasares, Mark Doerr and Casey J. Adler in Mix-Mix. Photo by Grettel Cortes Photography.

During a talkback after the production, Alvarez confirms that the show is primarily a fictitious account, with many artistic liberties granted to the true-life experiences of Ralph Preiss. The play’s Act I finale was cited as one of those moments; regardless, the bar mitzvah is a culmination of strength for our mixed bunch and the deep-rooted human connection that thrives in this small tropical setting.

It is important to note here the touching performance of Casey J. Adler, who gives us the vulnerable transition of boy to man, mirrored by the frightened but proud father (Michael Doerr) and mother (Jill Remez). These moments of humanity, sharing and uplifting cultural and religious differences when hope seems misplaced given the circumstances, was enough to elicit more than a few tears. It is a truly moving moment.

Reggie Lee’s powerful choreography showcases the rich bond that only this specific situation can bring. Throughout the show, there are moments of Lee’s movement that tug deeply on the heartstrings, sometimes speaking louder than words ever can, portraying extreme grief and heartache. Another particularly strong moment is the dance with grief, as performed by Kennedy Kabasares and Angelita Esperanza during Act II, a tear-evoking moment.

In collaboration with the actors, the set also lends itself to expert use of the compact stage. With projection in the shape of the mountain range, ramps, hidden cubbies, and cleverly designed lighting, there is no measure for how much this touching tale keeps you reeled in and fully immersed.

It is important as a society to keep growing and learning at every moment you can.  Cheers to the cast and crew of Mix-Mix: The Filipino Adventure of a German Jewish Boy. This beautiful story is no longer lost to time.

Mix-Mix is available to experience Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00pm, Sundays at 4:00pm through June 16 at the Los Angeles Theater Center, 514 S. Spring Street downtown. Tickets range from $20-$48 on or $10 on Thursdays. Discounted parking is located at 545 S. Main St., behind the theater; be sure to get your ticket validated at the theater. 

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Hannah Schaffner
Hannah Schaffner
As a lover of the theatrical arts for her entire life, Hannah Schaffner is incredibly stoked to share her passions with all who will listen. She has been surrounded by theatre her entire life from acting to stage managing to writing. If you love movies, you can also check out her Letterboxd (@schaffner), she watches a movie a day. Let's talk art!

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