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What makes MiG rock

After so many years of appearing on the live stage, MiG Ayesa said theater still excites him

MiG Ayesa has been in and out of the Philippines, and recently came back to do another run of Atlantis Productions’ Rock of Ages where he played the lead role of rocker Stacee Jaxx.

It was actually not MiG’s first time in Manila, nor was it his first time to take on the role which he last did in Manila two years ago. It was the third run of Rock of Ages in the country.

Being part of a production that ran for several weeks, there was always the question of keeping it fresh for the audience. But that’s nothing new to MiG, who starred in the Queen-inspired rock musical We Will Rock You in London, playing the same character for two and a half years. So doing repeat night after night is not a problem for him.

MiG looked at his return to the role of rockstar Stacee Jaxx (whose performance may or may not save a small club on the Sunset Strip that is being threatened with closure) as a challenge, teaching himself how to inhabit the character and find something new in it each time he steps out onstage. “That’s why I love theater,” he explained. “That’s the magic of it. Every day is a brand new day. I’ve done a lot of shows for years and for me, it’s a challenge, to make every day feel like the first time, which can be a hard thing to accomplish. But at the same time, that’s the fun of theater. That’s where the magic happens.”

MiG said that it helps that they had new people in the cast, namely K-La Rivera, who took over the role previously played by singer-actress Vina Morales. Although he has so much respect for Vina, he was excited to work with the new people who came in. “We have new cast, new surroundings, (and that) always helps. We have fresh people coming in so for me it’s a joy,” said MiG. “That’s my No. 1 goal (in every performance), not to look jaded or tired.”

After so many years of appearing on the live stage, MiG said theater still excites him. He was 21 years old and studying toward a degree in Communications, taking courses in film editing (he once wanted to be a film editor) and working at a candy bar in a movie house in Sydney, making $6 an hour when he heard of a friend who was making thousands of dollars doing commercials. “Thousands of dollars? And I was making six dollars an hour? I said, ‘That sucks!’”

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So MiG got himself an agent. His agent began sending him to audition not just for commercials, but for stage productions as well. One of the first jobs he got was a role in a production of The Buddy Holly Story based on the life of rock musician Buddy Holly. MiG played the role of Ritchie Valens, the singer behind the hit song La Bamba. Valens died at age 17 in the same plane crash that also took Buddy Holly’s life.

“That project (The Buddy Holly Story) sent me to London for the first time. They invited me to join the London cast. I was 21, and that was my West End debut. I performed for Princess Diana and the two young princes at the time, that was about 1992 or ’93,” recalled MiG. “After that, I started getting offers for other shows, like West Side Story, and I also took the role of Danny Zuko in the Australian production of Grease. It was a baptism of fire, and I kind of learned on the job, but it was fun.”

Now, MiG travels all around the world — including the Philippines — doing theater work. He’s looking into other possible projects in the country, including writing and performing in an original work based on a story shared to him by his grandmother. He also did a travel and reality show with Sophie Sumner of America’s Next Top Model fame. They went touring around the Philippines for three months. The show will be aired probably next year.

In the meantime, MiG has many other plans and dreams, and he promises to make them all come true. With the kind of determination and talent he has, that’s a real possibility.

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