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Fil-Am Actor, Orville Mendoza, Brings a Myriad of Comedic Characters to Life in “Crime and Punishment.”

by Lainie Alfaro


Russian author Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky is known throughout the world for his books that explore the human condition, grapple with moral dilemmas and share the interiority of complex characters’ lives. And now, at the Old Globe, Dostoevsky's book “Crime and Punishment” is being reimagined not as a tragedy or drama but as a comedy. 


The book follows the moral dilemmas of the main character, Rodion Raskolnikov, an impoverished student in Saint Petersburg, Russia. While the plot is altered to fit the play format and offer space for laughter, the central messages remain.


“What it does is it retains the issue of morality, what is right and wrong?” Fil-Am actor Orville Mendoza said. “And especially when you’re put in a position of a rock and a hard place by society, what is moral? Those are the questions that still ring loud and clear in this 90-minute comedy.”


The play adaptation was created by Gordon Greenberg and Steve Rosen — writers with a track record of exploring how literature can be reimagined for the stage with a comedic twist. Like “Crime and Punishment,” in the past they’ve also reconceptualized Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” and Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Mendoza was in Greenberg and Rosen’s reconceptualized “Ebenezer Scrooge’s BIG San Diego Christmas Show!”


What makes Greenberg and Rosen’s work compelling to audiences is the seamless transition between comedy to reality. 


“They want people to have a good time. And then amid the laughter and stuff, they hit you with the serious themes of the actual book, which I think is brilliant,” Mendoza said. “You’re going along and you’re enjoying all these jokes and then there’s all of a sudden this real part and meat at the center of what we’re doing. There is more meaning to the show than [what] first meets the eye.”


Stepping onto the stage at the Old Globe, Mendoza plays actor 4 in “Crime and Punishment, A Comedy.” For Mendoza, being back at The Old Globe is like a homecoming. 


“It’s not an exaggeration. I absolutely love working here,” Mendoza said. “Whenever they ask me to come back, in a heartbeat, I usually say yes because I have family out here. My mom and my brother live in Victorville. I have aunts, uncles and cousins who live in the San Diego area and LA area. Whenever I come here, it feels like a family reunion.”


Mendoza has performed in multiple other productions at the Globe including “The Heart of Rock and Roll (World Premiere),” “Ebenezer Scrooge's BIG San Diego Christmas Show,” “The Taming of the Shrew” and multiple other workshops. 


Mendoza grew up with an affinity for musical theater and performance that traces back to an LP he borrowed from the Victorville public library of Stephen Sondheim’s musical soundtrack “Pacific Overtures.”


“I would go to the Broadway section and see what new albums had come out,” Mendoza said. “I saw this show called ‘Pacific Overtures.’ I didn’t know what it was. Anyways, I brought that record home and saw all these Asian names in the cast — a lot of names who I would, in the future, work with and become very good friends with.”


Little did Mendoza know he would make his Broadway debut performing in the revival of “Pacific Overtures” as an adult. 


Prior to his Broadway debut, Mendoza completed his B.A. in Theatre Arts from Cal-State University San Bernardino. From there, Mendoza became an original cast member on the second national tour (The Engineer Company) of “Miss Saigon” in the role of the “Engineer.”


“Being Filipino, I personally feel like it helped me a lot  in this industry,” Mendoza said. “It was also about timing. A lot of Filipinos got their start in ‘Miss Saigon.’ When I got out of school and started the tour of Miss Saigon, it was like this whole new world opened up to me. I learned a lot on the job. I learned discipline. It was not just a show but it was also a brand.”

According to his website, “Over the course of 5 1/2 years, he performed ‘Miss Saigon’ over 2,000 times in over 50 cities throughout the U.S.”


His acting career has spanned Broadway, regional theater and film, but what have been the highlights in his acting journey are working in original roles.


Mendoza has done this for multiple productions including Greenberg and Rosen’s “Ebenezer BIG Christmas Show!” and the New York premiere of Sondheim and John Weidman’s, “Road Show.”


Now, Mendoza does it again in “Crime and Punishment” as he originates multiple zany characters with both laughter-inducing moments and stomach-dropping, tangible struggles with real life scenarios. He said he applies some of his own experiences as he embodies characters like the mother and father.


“It’s kind of a generic answer that all actors say, but there is a little part of me in everyone of the characters, obviously,” Mendoza said. “[With] the mother, I think of my lola and how she was always kind, but there was always a little bit of a backhanded compliment. Also, the father is, strangely, not my lolo but my dad. I think of my dad and his cadence — the way he would talk — and how he also gave tough love to my brother and I growing up. When he’s talking to Rodi [Actor 5] in that dream sequence, he says ‘Tell the truth.’ That’s exactly what my dad would tell my brother and I when he knew we were lying.”


For Mendoza, allowing his personal experiences to help inform the characters is what makes them come to life.


“You have to pull from who you are as a person and your experiences because that’s what makes it rich, and that’s what makes it real,” Mendoza said. “Even though these are quote on quote Russian characters, they are universal. That’s why the themes in the book and the characters in the book have resonated throughout all these years in different countries and different cultures.”


Mendoza has been nominated for multiple prestigious awards such as the Drama Desk Awards and Ovation Awards in previous productions, and he has won a Barrymore Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for his performance as “Tempura” in “Adrift in Macao.” However, he says the most rewarding moments in his career are when he can inspire the future dreamers and performers of theater and film. 


“I try not to pay attention to awards and things. They really are the icing on the cake,” Mendoza said. “This is going to sound corny, but it’s really true: After a show, when a kid, especially an Asian kid, comes up to me and says, ‘Wow, I saw you on the stage and I think I can do that too now.’ Or he sees his face in my face and he’s able to relate to a story because I told it with this Filipino body, with this Filipino face, that is the best reward ever. That is what makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing. It’s all about spreading this art form to the next generation and showing them that storytellers look like us. Filipinos are storytellers and we can tell any story.”


In addition to theater, Mendoza has appeared in a variety of TV shows and films such as “The Blacklist” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” In the current context of the film industry with the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and Writers Guild of America (WGA) on strike, as a SAG-AFTRA member Mendoza is calling for the film community to come together.


“Ultimately, what people go to the movies for and watch TV for is the human connection. They want to see stories about themselves. They want to see real characters who they can relate to and real complications they experienced themselves. I hope what ultimately ends up happening is that we come together and realize we’re in this same boat together,” Mendoza said. “I don’t think we’re asking for anything extraordinary. It’s growing pains with all the new artificial intelligence whether it comes to writing software or facial software. We all have to go into this new frontier together, and we have to make it equitable for everyone.” 


His encouragement, especially to those within the Filipino community, is to check out the Old Globe and experience the stories they are telling.


“I think there is a misconception that theater is expensive or that theater is elite, and it can be,” Mendoza said. “But, there are affordable tickets out there. The programming at the Old Globe, they’re shifting it to show [and] to really reflect the demographics of San Diego. It’s a theater for everyone. It’s a unique art form that’s been around for centuries, has weathered the most terrible economic conditions and somehow theater still endures because there’s nothing like seeing a live person tell you a story in front of you. You’re sharing a circle of energy that goes back and forth. There’s nothing like it.”
“Crime and Punishment, A Comedy” runs July 15 through Aug. 20 in the Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre. Mendoza will begin work on a separate creative project, so his last performance in “Crime and Punishment” will be on Aug. 6. To purchase tickets, visit


My Long and Winding Road to Here

Contributed by Marissa Bañez


SAN DIEGO,CA -    How did I get here?

    From an early childhood in the 1960s spent in a small house literally built by my grandfather in Baguio City, to the immigrant neighborhoods of downtown Los Angeles, to the idyllic rarefied setting of Princeton University, to the highly-charged environment of a large international law firm as a litigator, and, finally, to being an award-winning children’s author currently developing a children’s musical based on my book in my “golden years”. . . as I reach my 65th year, I laugh, shake my head, give thanks, and repeatedly ask myself, “how did I get here?”

    Luck?  Divine intervention? Coincidences?  


    One example:  After taking five years off from work until my daughter started kindergarten, someone suggested I first try working with a placement office to ease my way back into legal practice. The day after I emailed my resume, I was told that a well-regarded firm was looking for an attorney with my exact qualifications.  I later learned that while I was typing my resume, the firm’s hiring partner was about to hire someone who didn’t meet all the criteria.  Then, for some reason, he felt compelled to make one last effort to get the right person.  On the same day that I submitted my resume, he sent in his request to the placement office. The universe did its thing and eighteen years later, I’m still at the firm.

    Hard work?  Of course.  

    I took three separate bar exams (California, New Jersey, and New York) and passed each one the first time around.

    As a litigator, working until 3 or 4 a.m. and being ready only 4 or 5 hours later to start the next day is not unusual, especially when there is a trial.

    As a mom of a little girl, I wrote original stories and created puppet shows for my daughter and her friends. Now, I write my stories, work closely with my illustrator, do a lot of book promotional work, and create dialogue and lyrics for the musical.  This labor of love often takes me into the wee hours too.  

    Connections?  Definitely.

    A former colleague, fellow author, and friend introduced me to our mutual publisher.

    My childhood friend’s talented musician husband wrote a beautiful song about my book.

    A colleague who also happens to own a stage theater production company spoke about my book to actors and other associates, all of whom are excited about a children’s musical.

    Support from family and friends?  Unquestionably.
    Without going into details that would fill volumes, I can categorically say that I am blessed with the best and most supportive family and friends, without whom I couldn’t have accomplished half as much and certainly not with as much fun.

    My book, Hope and Fortune, tells of a little girl who has lost her way and encounters 12 multicultural, multiracial, and multigenerational fairies of different shapes and sizes who give her life advice to get her back on her path.  Each fairy represents a principle or ideal.  The first is the Fortune Fairy of Hope, drawn to look like my late Filipina mother and, by her dress, represents the Filipino culture.  Her advice: “Give yourself permission to cry.  Just know that things will get better as time goes by.”  The guidance given by all the fairies constitutes a distillation of principles I have lived by or aspire to live by.  I HOPE the book inspires young children and leads them to a path in life filled with good FORTUNE.  After all, they are principles that have gotten me here.  

    Marissa Bañez is Angelica’s mom, a litigator with a large international firm, an award-winning children’s author and, hopefully, a soon-to-be playwright.  Her second book, Hues And Harmony (How the Rainbow Butterfly Got Her Colors), which deals with multiraciality, belonging, and, ultimately, love, will be published by Black Rose Writing on July 20, 2023.  Visit to learn more.




Philippines Men’s National Lacrosse Team Competes In

World LaCrosse Men's Championship in San Diego, June 23 - 26
By Emily Ingco

Laban Pilipinas!
Arriving in San Diego with the heart and pride of the Philippines, the Philippines Men’s National Lacrosse Team are ready to represent and dominate in the World Lacrosse Men’s Championships. With 11 of the original 23 players and skillful athletes from around the globe (including the US and Australia), the men are serving nothing but rebanse (revenge). 


“As you can imagine, we got some high expectations for 2023,” Ron Garcia (president of Philippines Lacrosse Association (PLA)) said.

During the monumental 2018 season, the men made their first appearance in the World Championship in Israel, triumphantly placing 10th out of 46 countries. Like 2018, the 2023 team gracefully qualified for the World Lacrosse Men’s Championships among three other teams. After recruiting national lacrosse athletes with extraordinary expertise to fill in the gaps of the team, the men leave their blood, sweat, and tears out on the field in preparation for game day. 


“Everyone is sending their best to this championship and everyone’s competing,” Garcia said. “This is kind of a big deal and we want to showcase our best athletes within those parameters of skill and being Filipino.”

With young players beginning to make a name for themselves out on the field and older athletes having to retire from the sport, Garcia eagerly predicts a new future for the Philippines National team.

Although it was difficult to find a specific time to fly everyone out, the Philippines Lacrosse Association persevered in finding the availability to train and come together like Kapamilya. This is the PLA’s main goal —it's capability in bringing Filipinos together through a sport. Under Japan’s mantra-- “Lacrosse
makes friends” -- Garcia and the board members of PLA introduced their love for lacrosse to the Philippines in hopes of expanding the North American sport.

“In 2013, myself and Justin Manjares (director of International Affairs and board member of the Philippines Lacrosse Association) took a trip to the Philippines and introduced lacrosse to a few schools: one being an international school in Manila and Silliman University in Dumaguete,” Garcia said. “A lot of us continue to go back to the Philippines to help with the programs we started and so forth. It was one of the most amazing times in my life, as I saw the same attitudes, smiles, and faces like I do here.”

Along with publicizing the sport in his hometown, Garcia enjoys uniting Filipino lacrosse athletes with similar backgrounds and interests and developing connections among the players. As players travel across the globe to San Diego to play in the championships, Garcia commends this opportunity for the team.

“I think it is a unique opportunity for us to come together, compete, and show the world that we can compete in the viable sport,” Garcia said. “We really feel like the game of lacrosse lends to Filipino people. You don’t have to be 6 foot tall and you don’t have to weigh a certain amount.”

As he waits for the rivalry rematch against Israel, Garcia hopes for a lot of support within the Filipino community of San Diego.

“We partnered up with World Lacrosse and House of Philippines to get the word out,” Garcia said. “We have posters with QR codes for tickets. I believe there will be a Filipino food cart there and apparel booth to buy a T-shirt. I think them just buying tickets to come out and cheer us on would be wonderful. We also are planning to interact with Filipino lacrosse athletes there to talk to them about a potential future with the team.”

During these nerve-wracking games, the athletes need to hear their crowd’s roars and cheers to boost their spirits. Share this article and invite friends, family, and loved ones to watch our immaculate Filipino athletes play in the championship games. With your support, our Filipino athletes can win the championship for the Philippines and the men, women, and youth back home who are unable to make it

to San Diego themselves.


For Kapamilya in San Diego, please purchase tickets to support our fellow Filipino Lacrosse athletes. Single day passes for SDSU will be available to purchase the day of the games at the SDSU Sports Deck box office. For future playoff games (once qualified), fans can purchase tickets online at Alongside our men’s national team, the Philippines brings three teams-- men’s open team, women’s open team and youth team-- to compete in the Adrenaline World Lacrosse Festival beginning June 29 to July 2.


Please come support our men, women, and youth Filipino athletes in this lively and thrilling event, as they showcase their skills in the tournament surrounding the World Lacrosse Men’s Championship. To get updates on the team, please follow their Instagram (@philippineslacrosse), Facebook (@Philippines Lacrosse Association), and Twitter (@PhilippinesLAX).

Arriving on June 18, the men will collectively practice and await their battle against Israel and their future goals they will shoot for. The men will be playing four scheduled games consecutively from June 23 to June 26. Following the day after, the playoff tournament begins for the World Lacrosse Men’s Championship. The Philippines will play in future playoff games depending on their success in winning the first four scheduled matches.


  • June 23: Philippines vs. Israel at 1:00 pm on the SDSU Sports Deck
  • June 24: Philippines vs. Puerto Rico at 4:00 pm on the SDSU Rady Field
  • June 25: Philippines vs. Czech Republic at 1:00 pm on the SDSU Rady Field
  • June 26: Philippines vs. Sweden at 7:00 pm on the SDSU Wolf/Epoch Field

Lead by team captain Justin Rodis and head coach Kirk Ventiquattro, the men shoot to inspire future generations back home, as they victoriously wave the Filipino flag and pump red, blue, white, and gold in their veins. Laban para sa bayan!





















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