Broadway’s Eva Noblezada ably holds a tune and the screen in this bittersweet story of an immigrant trying to break into country and western
Though she came to Texas as a child from the Philippines, 17-year-old Rose Garcia (played by emerging Broadway star Eva Noblezada) has been obsessed with country music since she was knee-high to a grasshopper. Now that her father is dead, she only plays for herself, too shy to share her music even with Elliot (Liam Booth), the cute guy at the music store. Her mother, Priscilla (Princess Punzalan), a housekeeper at a motel, is supportive, even if she nags Rose to put homework first and doesn’t like the idea of Rose going to a gig in Austin with Elliot. But their bickering over curfew times suddenly seems trivial when Priscilla is arrested by immigration police and incarcerated, revealing that neither she nor Rose have the right documentation to make them legal.
As it looks increasingly likely Priscilla will get deported, Rose goes to stay with her aunt Gail (singer Lea Salonga). But Gail’s prissy white husband makes her feel unwelcome, so she ends up getting taken in first by a kindly bar owner and later on by one of the bar’s star regular performers Dale Watson, here essentially playing himself in a slightly stilted but charming performance. With his tutelage, Rose’s own songwriting skill begins to blossom.