This Pinoy doctor and Zumba instructor now has a Tony–for coproducing ‘Dear Evan Hansen’



Raymond Poliquit now has a Tony Award for Best Musical.

He’s an investor in “Dear Evan Hansen,” the acclaimed musical which won five other Tonys: Book, Score, Orchestrations, Featured Actress and Leading Actor (Ben Platt from the “Pitch Perfect” movies). It has music by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (“La La Land”) and book by Steven Levenson.

“The award medallions only go to the main producers. Investors don’t actually receive medallions,” says Poliquit. Only two medallions are given to each winning production; investors can opt to buy their own commemorative medallion.

Nonetheless, aside from bragging rights and their names on the literature of the winning show, investors of Broadway productions that win Best Play or Musical (and Revivals) can also go up the stage for the lead producer’s acceptance speech. That, Poliquit did.

Investing company

Poliquit started his New Orleans-based investing company Impresario’s Choice on Broadway in 2004—with partners Jeanette Tan and Mariano Tolentino.

In addition to nine other Broadway productions, it has invested in two Off-Broadway, one West End, one regional and two national touring productions thus far.

Broadway shows that Impresario’s Choice has invested in have won other Tonys. These include “La Cage aux Folles” (Revival, 2004 and 2010); 2006’s “The Drowsy Chaperone” (Book, Score, Scenic Design, Costume Design, Featured Actress) and “The Little Dog Laughed” (Leading Actress), and 2009’s “West Side Story” (Featured Actress).

A pediatrician and Zumba instructor, Poliquit was born and raised in Bacolod and moved to the United States after graduating with his medicine degree from the University of the Philippines.

“My first exposure to Broadway was during my pediatric residency training in New York,” he says. He then moved to Louisiana for work. Noticing the dearth of theater entertainment there, he took matters into his own hands.

He established Impresario’s Choice, a nonprofit arts organization that produced local stops of touring Broadway productions for over a decade.

“Since the Broadway community is small, I was invited in 2004 to invest in my first Broadway show, ‘La Cage aux Folles.’”

Antiburnout strategy

“Broadway investing has been my ‘antiburnout’ strategy while practicing medicine. I’m able to maintain my connections with the Broadway community and my friends in New York City.

“Once we invest in a show, we travel to see it at the out-of-town tryout, the final run-through, the opening performance and attend the party. We attend the Tonys if it’s nominated.”

At the opening night of one of these performances a few years ago, the person seated beside him turned out to be a “Dear Evan Hansen” producer.

“He reached out last year when the show opened up for investing,” Poliquit recalls. “It was a no-brainer. It had a successful regional debut and a sold-out Off-Broadway run. It wasn’t a difficult decision to make.”

Aside from its business potential, Poliquit also connected with the show’s themes. “A lot of my patients are children with autism and other disabilities. They have a hard time navigating through their teenage years. Like Evan, these kids are treated like outcasts by their peers.

“I’m a foster parent and adopted a child from the foster care system nine years ago. He has special needs, too.”

Poliquit and business partner Jeanette Tan (3rd and 2nd from left) beside star Ben Platt and other cast members and producers of “Dear Evan Hansen” at the Tonys —PHOTO BY THEO WARGO/GETTY IMAGES

Not for everybody

Poliquit has cautionary words for would-be investors. “It’s not for everybody. Like any venture capital investment, you shouldn’t put money in what you can’t afford to lose. The odds are against you, so you need to be very cautious. It’s like only one out of 10 that you’ll make your money back.

“My motivation isn’t to make money. I love the arts. I love supporting artists and the creative process. I invest because I love the opportunities such as opening night parties and the Tony Awards. Making your money back, and then some, is only the icing on the cake.”

Pinoy winners

The 71st Tony Awards were held at Radio City Music Hall.

Lea Salonga, 1991 Best Actress/Musical awardee for playing Kim in “Miss Saigon” and Jon Jon Briones, who plays the Engineer in the current revival, introduced the excerpt number of “Miss Saigon,” which was nominated for Best Revival of a Musical.

Kim Noblezada, whose father is Filipino, was nominated for Best Actress/Musical for playing Kim in the current revival.

Robert Lopez, 2004 Best Score awardee for “Avenue Q,” is of partial Filipino descent, his paternal grandfather is Filipino and his paternal grandmother is Filipino-Scottish.

Investor Jhett Tolentino and business partner Joan Raffe were awarded in 2013 for Best Play (“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike”) and in 2014 for Best Revival of a Play (“A Raisin in the Sun”) and Best Musical (“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”).

Clint Ramos won Best Costume Design last year for his work on the play “Eclipsed.”—CONTRIBUTED

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