Youthful fun with the Von Trapps & Connie Talbot
Danee Samonte (The Philippine Star) - January 6, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - I’ve gotten so used to the attitudes of artists from my generation I’ve worked with for almost a decade that I was delighted when I recently toured with young artists — the Von Trapps and Connie Talbot.

Absent were the usual tantrums, temper flare-ups and inflexibility that have gotten me so stressed all these years. I honestly wasn’t prepared on how to handle these young artists as I’ve had very little experience and found out how enjoyable it was even if the schedules were very hectic. First to arrive on Dec. 3 (after just taking Air Supply to the airport) were the Von Trapps, grandchildren of the real Captain and Maria Von Trapp of the Sound of Music fame. Then Britain’s X Factor finalists the MACS and finally the formerly toothless runner-up to Paul Potts on Britain’s Got Talent now a gorgeous young lady Connie Talbot.

I’ve been yearning to work with the Von Trapp grandchildren since I met them in 2006 because Sound of Music has been my all-time favorite movie. I had my wish fulfilled Yuletide 2012. Spending over a week with Sofia, Melanie, Amanda and Justin plus dad Stefan was a wonderful experience.

On the way to Manila from New York, eldest Sofia who graduated from music school and does all musical and vocal arrangements, caught a flu virus on the plane that made her lose most of her voice for half the tour. Despite the ailment, it never doused her enthusiasm to work and perform. Sheer professionalism at a young age might I comment.

The first performance at Newport Theater at Resorts World Manila was so well-received that they were given a rousing standing ovation at the end of the concert. I sat front row with Joey and Eileen de Leon and watched the show like a fan marveling at the musical arrangements they made on the Sound of Music songs.

One of the concert highlights was their performance of Bayan Ko in a cappella in four-part harmony. I had goosebumps and was almost in tears. I snuck a peek at Resorts World VP for entertainment Colin Kerr who had tears welling in his eyes when the Von Trapps sang Silent Night.

The concert had the audience singing along most of the time and climaxed with So Long Farewell from Sound of Music with matching choreography. 

  Despite having slept for only four hours, the Von Trapps were all smiles when I met them at NAIA Terminal 2 at 7 a.m. next day for the flight to Cebu.

It was a 180-degree turnaround to see smiles and stamina instead of what I’ve been so used to all these tours — grumpy half-awake artists from my generation.

The Von Trapps did two shows in Cebu, one in Davao, another at Music Museum followed by six mini-shows at various SM Malls around Mega Manila within a span of eight days.

I never heard them whimper or complain. While in Davao, the Von Trapps gamely tried Durian and grilled tuna head which they really enjoyed.

At the Music Museum show, they were joined by Britain’s X Factor winners Brian and Craig MacDonald simply known as the MACS from Scotland.

The MACS who are on an Asian promo tour sang five songs to the delight of the Music Museum crowd.

Loudest applause came from San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez and Music Museum owner Precy Florentino.

On the Von Trapps’ last day in the Philippines, they did two shows in Dasmariñas, Cavite and Sta. Rosa, Laguna. The next day, they caught the 6 a.m. flight to New York where they have a weeklong engagement at the Carnegie Hall a day after they arrive. I wonder where they get all the energy. 

A day after the Von Trapps departed, I hopped on a flight to Hong Kong to meet and fetch child wonder Connie.

Six years ago sans front teeth, Connie almost won top spot on Britain’s Got Talent if Paul Potts didn’t edge her out of it.

Four albums, three DVD releases and over 800M YouTube hits later, Connie is finally visiting the Philippines. Over dinner at a pizza place in Kowloon,

I met Connie and her dad Gavin in the flesh. I was immediately stunned at how pretty she has become.

Even my normally friendly and talkative daughter Russell suddenly got shy when she met Connie. She seemed to have an aura of celebrity you don’t normally see in performers.

Connie promoted her new album at Lucky Plaza in Chinatown, Venice Piazza at McKinley and Eastwood Mall at Eastwood City.

Although she didn’t do any concerts, she sang a few songs at the malls to the delight of her fans who were mostly kids accompanied by parents.

Although it only took her a few minutes to sing, she spent hours signing autographs, posing for photos and chatting with the fans.

I suggested she just sign and pose to make the transition fast but she insisted to communicate with each and every fan who came up to her.

With that type of PR, Connie will go a long way in the music business. In-between Connie’s tight schedule she managed to lunch at Hard Rock Café in Glorietta and do some serious shopping with mom Sharon in Greenhills with assistance from Promenade boss Precy Florentino and god-daughter, who is a wonderful singer in her own right, Isabella (Kuh Ledesma’s one and only progeny).

Connie departed with extra luggage that contained lots of souvenirs and presents from fans and friends and promised to return and do a full concert probably Yuletide 2013.

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