To bring a Broadway hit to the Philippines, Bobby Garcia’s main requirement is simple. “We choose shows based on themes that reflect our sensibilities and stories about identity, community, and diversity.”

Bobby is the artistic director of the Philippines-based production company Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group, and has overseen productions of Rent, In The Heights (creator Lin-Manuel Miranda even surprised audiences one night during curtain call), Fun Home, and, most recently, Waitress.

“Even though the stories seem to be in a specific location – be it in New York City or the Midwest – the themes that surround them are universal,” Garcia, who graduated from Fordham University in New York and went on to earn his masters from the University of British Columbia, said.

While Broadway is considered one of theatre’s major homes in the English-speaking world (the other being London’s West End), it’s not uncommon for the shows that originate in Manhattan to gain prominence globally. Along with national and international tours, companies both in and out of the United States have also created ways to license musicals and plays for international audiences.

In November, Atlantis opened the first international production of the Tony-nominated musical Waitress in Manila, starring Joanna Ampil as the lead of Jenna Hunterson, a waitress who joins a pie making contest to regain control of her life and dreams after suffering an abusive relationship with her husband, an unexpected pregnancy and an affair with her gynaecologist.

Grammy-nominated singer Sara Bareilles, who wrote the music for the show and has taken on the role of Jenna on Broadway, posted on Instagram ahead of Atlantis’ opening night to celebrate the achievement. “My only regret is that I wasn’t able to see it in person. I’m so happy there is a vehicle for bringing all this wonderful theatre to new audiences in Asia.”