By Jenny Chen
2 guys. 2 years. 125 shows. 250 hours of performances. La Ti Do founders Regie Cabico and Don Michael Mendoza are a force to be reckoned with. Since they started La Ti Do in 2012 – a weekly cabaret show in DC featuring spoken word, musical theater, and everything in between – the two have made good on their original promise to bring affordable cabaret to theDC area.
“Regie said if we were to do it every week then there would be no way for anyone else to catch up to us,” Mendoza said. And he was right.
La Ti Do lives in the basement of the Black Fox Lounge in Dupont Circle. It’s an intimate setting with a bar in the back. Cabico’s friend Russwin Francisco owned the venue and offered the basement to La Ti Do for free because they didn’t have any programming on Monday nights.
When Asian Fortune covered La Ti Do in January 2013, we noted that the group had ambitions to expand to more locations. Well they’ve done it. In June 2013 La Ti Do opened their New York City show at the historic Bowery Poetry Club. This summer, they will be signing a contract with Bowery to provide programming on a monthly basis on the 4th Sunday of every month. Mendozo says this development is exciting because New York City has a wide range of A-list talent that the group can tap into. But the group isn’t done yet. “We’re hoping to expand to the West Coast. We’re thinking LA,” Mendoza said.
On May 26, 2014 (Memorial Day), La Ti Do hosted a summer kick off show which honored Asian American artists. The theme was especially relevant to Cabico and Mendoza since both hail from a Filipino-American heritage. Mendoza recalls how his parents asked him how he was going to make a living from his musical theater degree.
In addition to that Mendoza says that he wants to make it more possible for Asian American artists to get on stage and perform without fear. “We have to show the world that Asian Americans are capable of the art of the mainstream, we need to teach the country that we can be integrated. The struggle now is for Asians to be portrayed more like real people.”
An embodiment of Mendoza’s vision is the musical group SNRG. SNRG, a music and graphic design group of two brothers Beau Canlas and Aaron Canlas was invited to perform at the Memorial Day La Ti Do show. With their unique rap lyrics and their playfulness with existing pop songs, SNRG showed that, as Mendoza puts it, “Filipinos can rap too.”
La Ti Do’s shows are a perfect start to the week: the casual vibe and low ticket price means that you can relax while enjoying some of the best up and coming talent DC has to offer.