Former Repertory Philippines actresses Nicole Barredo and Giselle Töngi in 'Criers for Hire' in Los Angeles

Former Repertory Philippines actress Nicole Barredo in 'Criers for Hire' in Los Angeles
March 6, 2016
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Nicole Barredo
In Los Angeles, two former Repertory Philippines (Rep) actresses, Nicole Barredo and Giselle Töngi, are appearing in a play about Filipinas who work as "crying ladies" at funerals.

Staged by East West Players, "Criers for Hire" is about three professional funeral criers who welcome Aurora's 14-year-old daughter Ligaya from the Philippines into their somber trade.

However, they soon realize that she has the opposite effect on people, making them laugh instead of cry.

The play will tackle cultural identity, generational conflict and finding home in a new country.

Barredo plays Ligaya. "It's my first time to play a Filipina character on stage here in the United States and it's very exciting because it means we are slowly being visible and represented in the American entertainment industry," she says.

"It's an honor to finally get to bring our culture on stage."

Before she moved to California in 2009, Barredo had been working with Rep since 2002.

"I've always enjoyed acting and loved singing and dancing in school. I chanced upon a Rep audition and got to perform professionally," she says.

"Rep made me realize that performing really is what I want to do."

Her credits include "Fame" and "The Sound of Music" and Repertory Children's Theater productions such as "Pinocchio," "Disney's Mulan Jr." and "Disney's Aladdin Jr.," to name a few.

She also taught musical theater at Rep's summer workshops.

"One major thing I learned from working in Rep is discipline. It's something every Rep baby must have and it has become so important to me to practice it continuously. It makes any performing experience so much easier and enjoyable because you are prepared to work and you get to enjoy the entire process."

Her acting credits in the United States include Ti Moune in "Once on This Island," Fiona in "Shrek" and Kim in different productions of "Miss Saigon," one of which won her Stagecene LA's Best Performance by a Lead Actress in a Musical 2011-2012, and Inland Theatre League's Excellence in Theatre Award 2012.

First love
(From left, back) Rudy Martinez, Giovanni Ortega,
Joan Almedilla;
(front) Giselle Töngi, Jon Lawrence Rivera,
Samantha Cutaran, Nicole Barredo.

Töngi's theater credits in Manila include Rep's "The Producers" and Atlantis Productions' "Piaf."

She currently hosts TV channel LA18's "Kababayan Today."

She's cast as Meding, one of Aurora's friends.

"It feels great because acting has always been my first love, no matter what; I will return to it time and time again!" she says.

"I auditioned for this play because it's so relevant to our Filipino community living here in America. I had to be a part of this show in any capacity and am honored to have been cast.

"It truly feels surreal to play a character that embodies my culture and sensibilities. I've lived in America for over 16 years now, and there are hardly any roles for our kind. The lines I say on stage are not foreign to my tongue or my ears."

Filipino lines in the play will have English supertitles.

"I know fellow Filipino Americans will be delighted to see this show!"

Other cast members include  Samantha Cutaran and Joan Almedilla as Aurora. Almedilla hails from Cebu and has performed as Kim in "Miss Saigon" on Broadway and as Fantine in a US tour of "Les Misérables."

"Criers for Hire" is written by Giovanni Ortega and directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera, both of whom are also from the Philippines. Ortega is artistic director of Mezclao Productions, and Rivera is founding artistic director of theater group Playwrights' Arena.


"Criers for Hire" runs until March 13 at David Henry Hwang Theater, Union Center of the Arts, 120 Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles. Call +1-213-625-7000, visit or EWPlayers on Facebook. link: