Logo for Americano! The Musical shows a fist holding military ID tags with the American flag

‘¡Americano! The Musical’ Goes to Broadway

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On this week’s episode, the Art in the 48 Podcast tells the story of native Phoenix Dreamer, Tony Valdovinos, and how his life inspired a musical premiered by Phoenix Theatre Company and now heading to Broadway: “¡Americano! The Musical.

Imagine suddenly discovering you aren’t something you thought you were.

Tony Valdovinos’ story is making its way to the Broadway stage, a story of Dreamers. Valdovinos was born in Colima, Mexico, in 1990. As a toddler, he was brought to Phoenix, Arizona by his parents, where he was raised and where he grew up. As the Twin Towers were attacked and destroyed on September 11, 2001, Valdovinos remembers seeing the news coverage from his sixth-grade classroom, vowing then and there to join the United State Marine Corps. On his 18th birthday, Valdovinos attempted to enlist in the corps, but to his shock, he hit a wrench during his interview.

When asked for his social security number, Valdovinos answered that he didn’t have one. He also didn’t have a birth certificate or a driver’s license. The recruiter broke the news to him: Valdovinos wasn’t a citizen.

Once he learned he was undocumented, Valdovinos said he found himself feeling lost. His identity surrounding his goal to join the Marines had been shattered, and he couldn’t afford to attend community college after high school. With only his certificate, he started working construction jobs with his father, but always in his heart was the bitter disappointment of wanting to belong to a country that didn’t fully accept him.

In 2013, Valdovinos was accepted as a Dreamer under the federal government’s new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival policy (DACA). As Valdovinos puts it, “one of life’s sliding doors allowed me to walk through and down a different path.”

He became the first undocumented immigrant to work at Phoenix city hall. His newfound life would only get better. The story inspires a musical written by Michael Barnard, Fernanda Santos and Jonathan Rosenberg, which, after a successful Phoenix run, is making its way to the Broadway stage.

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