Miss Saigon album a collector’s item

SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil - The Philippine Star

Great news. This is something you must add to your Christmas shopping list because a lot of people will want it.  Here is the album every fan of musical theater, every music lover, or anybody who is proud to be Filipino will surely treasure. The Definitive Live Recording of the new production of the musical Miss Saigon is now available in the stores. 

So why rejoice? I know it is just the soundtrack of a musical. I know the story is set during the war in Vietnam, the composers Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boubil are French and the producer Cameron Mackintosh is British and Miss Saigon is now running in London. But… and the buts about this are truly awesome. On display here is Filipino talent at its best on a world-class stage. No way any Filipino will not feel proud. 

First, the girl who originated the role of Kim 25 years ago is Lea Salonga. Her success generated interest in Pinoys as theater actors. So we are all curious about the new production. Now playing the two very demanding lead roles are Filipinos, Jonjon Briones as The Engineer and Eva Noblezada as the orphan girl Kim. Then to add spice to the brew, the gorgeous Rachelle Ann Go is also in it as the bar girl Gigi. It is absolutely heartwarming to listen to them in this live recording.

Take note of that, the entire album was recorded live at the Prince Edward Theater in London. This is as close as one can be to the show without being there. The production is fantastic, the entire cast is brilliant and because I am a proud Pinoy, I will say that the Filipinos are doubly so.

Rachelle Ann’s beautiful tones sets the drama off with The Movie In My Mind. Eva, only 18 years old, is a sweet, dramatic soprano of incredible power. And I so love Jonjon’s Filipino accent, throwing punch lines here and there, mocking himself, totally seedy and cloying as The Engineer. As Dominic Maxwell’s review in The Times says, “Jonjon Briones’ brilliant avaricious charm.” Ang galing ng Pinoy. 

They have made some changes in the show. Overall, the dreamlike quality of the first production with Lea and Jonathan Pryce has given way to a grittier feel. This is not the Miss Saigon I saw years ago. It is different but just as compelling. I miss some songs but the performances are so moving and it is, all in all, a wonderful listening experience. Maybe as Christopher Stevens of Daily Mail says, “This could be the greatest musical of all time.”

Miss Saigon is a must-see for everybody. A touring production with lots of Pinoys in the cast would be nice. But  realistically, that is not possible for all of us. For now, listening to the album will suffice. If I am not mistaken, the CD costs P570 in the local stores. I say not bad for something to be cherished and enjoyed for hours and hours. 

More theater news

The Sandbox Collective presents The Imaginarium, a multi-arts festival of the absurd. It will run from Oct. 28 to 31  at the PETA Theater Center, #5 Eymard Drive, New Manila in Quezon City. It will feature performances, presentations and collaborations of various media, including film, fashion, dance, visual arts, improv, spoken word, music, food and beverage and of course, theater, all of them unconventional and at times even bizarre.

Some that I am sure a lot of theater buffs will enjoy are a re-run of Sandbox Collective’s recent, successful show, the inspiring off-Broadway musical Dani Girl; Genet’s play The Maids; Anton Juan’s play Taong Grasa; the musical Real Life Fairy Tales: A Song Cycle by Ejay Yatco; a mixed media reading of the Tony Award-winning play The Pillowman, a screening of the film Ang Huling Cha Cha Ni Anita with Angel Aquino, plus lots of others.

Promising to be a blast is the really loaded mixed media and animation Thursday Night Gala on Oct. 30 featuring B. P. Valenzuela, KaapinN and Pedicab.  Valenzuela is an ambient synth-pop producer, singer and songwriter who is only 19 years old. KaapinN is an experimental indie electronic duo from Cebu that combines mixed media with video animation. Of course, Pedicab is the electronic rock band made up of Diego Mapa, Jason Caballa, Mike Dizon, RA Rivera and Raimund Marasigan of the Eraserheads. 

Please call 585-6909 or 0917-8996680 for ticket bundles.  You may also call Ticketworld at 891-9999. There is only a limited number of tickets being sold per event so advanced reservations and transactions are encouraged. The Imaginarium is co-presented by the PETA Theater Center with MAC Cosmetics. Check out www.thesandboxcollective.com or follow FB: TheSandbox Collective, or Twitter:@TheSandboxCo or Instagram:@TheSandboxCo for more details.

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