Outstanding Graduate Student: Sarah Salonga, School of Theatre, Television, and Film

Tuesday, July 2, 2024
Outstanding Graduate Student: Sarah Salonga, School of Theatre, Television, and Film
Outstanding Graduate Student: Sarah Salonga, School of Theatre, Television, and Film

Sarah Salonga is a dynamic force in the world of musical theatre, blending her passion for Original Pilipino Music (OPM) with her extensive academic and creative endeavors. As an MFA Musical Theatre graduate from San Diego State University, her final project epitomized her unique vision and dedication to the arts.

"For my final project, I wrote a Filipino/a/x-inspired jukebox musical entitled, One Past Midnight – The OPM Musical. The show is a combination of my love for Original Pilipino Music (OPM) and romantic comedy films and musicals," Salonga said. Her meticulous research on the history of the Philippines, its cultural influences, and Filipino/a/x immigration statistics informed the storytelling of her musical. She also conducted informal interviews, translated and interpreted Tagalog lyrics into English, and collaborated on musical arrangements.

Salonga’s project was not just about creating a musical, but about bringing it to life. "I then produced and directed the musical as part of my directing capstone project and presented the work to an audience in our studio," she said. The process included a post-show facilitated discussion, emphasizing the importance of audience feedback for future development.

Salonga’s previous experience in dentistry and her time at SDSU challenged her to delve into various aspects of musical theatre, from researching the effects of malocclusion on vocal production to teaching acting and voice to undergraduate students. "The program gave me a supportive platform with many resources," she said. 

Balancing her roles as a graduate student, colleague, mentor, wife, and mother proved to be Salonga's most significant challenge during her MFA program. "I think I overcame this challenge by accepting support and asking for direct support when needed," she said.

Beyond her degree, Salonga’s aspirations in theatre and education are expansive. "I would like to continue exploring different artistic pathways including performing, directing, and writing," she said.  “I plan to share my love of musical theatre through education, teaching all ages.” 

Salonga advises incoming SDSU students to "embrace every moment you have during your time at SDSU, even when it is challenging. Use all your resources and support systems on and off campus. Collaborate with fellow students and faculty. Create community and support each other. Spend time outdoors on campus and find the beauty in all the nature that surrounds the campus."

Sarah Salonga's SDSU story is one of perseverance, creativity, and an unwavering commitment to the arts and education. "After being in this rigorous program, I know I can achieve anything that I put my mind to by embracing the vulnerability and creating community," she said. 

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