As an entertainment veteran in acting and directing, Victor Lirio is also the founder of Diverse City Theater Company and creative director to Filipino singer/actress Lea Salonga. Lirio talks to 429Magazine about his contribution to the benefit, his relationship with Salonga as well as his future endeavors.
429Magazine: Possibly a brief background on the upcoming PhilDev benefit and what do you personally see as the importance of the cause?
Victor Lirio: The upcoming concert is PhilDev’s annual fundraising event to raise funds for the organization. I support the cause of PhilDev because it promotes education and training for the Philippines to have longer-term economic sustainability and become more globally competitive. It’s a big and ambitious dream.
429Mag: What inspired you in your career and what essentially inspires you the most, as an individual?
Lirio: What inspires me in my work is telling compelling stories … stories with extraordinary circumstances, relationships and characters. They broaden my perspective about humanity and people. I am learning to judge less. Poetry inspires me as well, specifically, works by Mary Oliver and David Whyte. As an individual, I am inspired by selfless acts of others. They make me aspire to be a better version of myself.
429Mag: Was there ever another alternative career you would have taken?
Lirio: My heart was set on pursuing a career in the performing arts. As an alternative career, I would have taken the policy-making path working for the United Nations Development Group (UNDP).
429Mag: How long have you been working with Lea Salonga? Is there a memorable moment you’d like to share between the two of you?
Lirio: Lea and I first worked together as actors in 1994 in a production of Grease! I produced her Carnegie Hall concert debut in 2005. I first directed her in a Sondheim concert at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in November 2011. Then, twice at The Allen Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center this year: opening of Lincoln Center’s American Songbook Concert Series and the exclusive webcast of her critically acclaimed concert at Café Carlyle, Back to Before, that I also directed.
429Mag: Have you and Lea have any connections to the LGBT community, i.e. benefits, etc.?
Lirio: We are both big supporters of marriage equality. Lea has done performances for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. I also support and have partnered with GLSEN (Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network).
429Mag: Any other philanthropic work you feel passionate about?
Liro: My free time is consumed with causes in the Philippines, gay rights causes, and my non-profit theater company in New York. When I have more time, I would love to do more work related to environment sustainability and teaching theater to kids.
429Mag: Any advice for newcomers entering the industry?
Lirio: Take the subway. Cabs are expensive. Use punctuations.
429Mag: What’s next for you?
Lirio: I am launching my new company, BWAY-LIVE.COM. It’s like HULU for original theater content. We will premiere with the exclusive webcast of Lea’s New York show filmed in The Allen Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center. I also met with an artistic director of a regional theater company in the east coast and discussed possibly directing David Hare’s play, The Judas Kiss. I am keeping my fingers crossed. I love the play!
The Phildev benefit is on October 5 in San Francisco at The Nourse Auditorium at CityArts. You can buy tickets here.