Bugal sang Bacolod & Broadway | Lydia "Lyd-Lyd" Gaston

Long before Lea Salonga became the global poster child for Filipino performers, we had Lydia Gaston as our bugal sang Bacolod [pride of Bacolod]. Syempre, we mean Lyd-Lyd - the daughter of Tita Lydia.

Lydia "Lyd-Lyd" Gaston

Many now know Lydia Gaston as Jokoy's mom, Tita Susan - in the Fil-Am comedian’s upcoming movie, Easter Sunday - slated for release this August.

Easter Sunday official trailer - Universal Pictures

On working with Jokoy: “I feel very fortunate and grateful to have gotten to know Jokoy. He was so excited to be working with fellow Fil-Ams, reminding us of the significance of the moment. I hope people sense this when they watch the movie.”

selfie with Jokoy from Lydia Gaston gallery

On training from her mom, who would say: “‘Just keep at it. They will look your way. Offer your talents to God.’ Which I took to mean, share your talents with the world. They are the richer for it.”
A deeper and broader perspective of Lydia's career encompasses her Masters in Applied Theatre - mirroring her mother's path of a foundational education in the arts. Her own efforts and perseverance led to an eclectic and productive performing career.

Anak-Bulan, CCP Dance Company, Ballet Philippines, 1976

Years before Lydia became a New Yorker, she danced with Ballet Philippines where she became a soloist at 16. In New York she performed with various dance companies, most prominently with choreographer/playwright Rachel Lampert.

King & I montage - at the Lincoln Center, 2016

Her first experience outside strictly being a dance performer was with the National Tour of The King and I, starring Yul Brynner. “This job enabled me to get my actor’s union card and I gradually moved into musical theater, and straight theater.”

[South Pacific reel - https://vimeo.com/113926061]

Lydia’s career has spanned six Broadway shows: The King and I revivals at Lincoln Center (2016) and at the Neil Simon Theatre (1996), Miss Saigon, Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, Shogun and The Red Shoes. Off-Broadway she created roles with Ma-Yi Theater Company, National Asian American Theatre Company (NAATCO), and Pan Asian Rep.

At the Public Theater in New York, she understudied multiple roles in Jessica Hagedorn’s Dogeaters, and was a member of the 2008 Shakespeare Lab. On TV Lydia appeared in The Sopranos (HBO), The Blacklist (NBC), The Path (HULU), and as a fictional 2020 presidential candidate on Late Night with Seth Meyers.

[on The Sopranos/HBO - https://vimeo.com/114186323]

On future work and bigger dreams: “All characters are interesting to play, whether tragic or comedic. It’s fun to take up the challenge. I also think audiences do want to be surprised and see fresh perspectives. I’d love to do Moliere and Chekhov whose plays show the tragic, comedic, and ironic facets of life.

“I also see how Filipino playwrights and filmmakers are skillfully doing this and I would love to work with them. I’ve been following director and moviemaker Isabel Sandoval.. She has been prolific and fearless in putting her work out there. It’s inspiring. Of course, I’d like to work with the cast and creators of Easter Sunday again - Jo, Tia Carrere, Jay Chandrashekhar.

“I’ve always dreamed of working in London but I don’t know if that has passed me by - but like my mom always used to say, ‘keep at it.’”

[Gallery - As Mrs. Li in the Off-Broadway run of A DEAL by Zhu Yi]

Lydia is an arts educator with a Master of Arts degree in Applied Theatre from CUNY School of Professional Studies. She is an adjunct professor at SUNY Empire State College, and has shared her theatre and dance knowledge in various communities including seniors, and students from pre-elementary to high school.

[Gallery – As Corazon Aquino in THE ENCOUNTER Diverse City Theatre Company's THE PEARL PROJECT]

She lives in Brooklyn with her husband Karl Greenberg. Their daughter Maya has flown the coop and is pursuing a Masters in Spain.

Though Lydia is no longer compelled to doing eight shows a week on Broadway – she plans on more TV and film work, and more parts on new plays by young playwrights in NY.

She is writing and developing a solo piece titled, Her Mother’s Daughter - an homage to her mother Lydia Madarang Gaston, her first dance teacher and mentor.

[Gallery – As a Principal Soloist in SUITES BY SONDHEIM]

Text By: Issa Urra
Photo Courtesy: Lydia Gaston

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