Living the movie in her mind
Nathalie Tomada (The Philippine Star) - March 14, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Whenever Rachelle Ann Go talks about having dreams and making them happen, she’s certainly speaking from a place of experience. Last year, after a decade’s worth of experience in Philippine showbiz, the 28-year-old performing star decided to spread her wings and pursue her West End dreams, joining the cast of the revival production of the Cameron Mackintosh mega-musical Miss Saigon.

No wonder, Walt Disney Southeast Asia deemed Rachelle as the best person to sing and star in the music video of the Disney theme song A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes. The music video coincides with the theatrical release of the live-action version of the Disney animated classic, Cinderella. In the said 1950 film, the song — composed by Mack David, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston — is sung by Cinderella herself in a scene where she tells her furry little friends to take heart and never stop dreaming.

Rachelle came home early this week to promote her Disney project, which materialized only about three weeks ago. “I had to ask permission from Miss Saigon but they were very supportive. They were happy that it’s a Disney project. Everything just fell into place,” she told reporters last Wednesday.

The recording session and video shoot took place in a Disney studio in London, with Rachelle gushing: “It was a full production and had a Hollywood feel to it.”

She said the project was a “dream come true” for her because like many young girls, she grew up wanting to be a Disney princess. “Even as a child, I dreamt of becoming Cinderella. Maybe that’s why I love shoes (laughs)! Seriously, as a kid, I always watched (the cartoon version) with my sibling,” said Rachelle, whose first involvement in Disney-related projects was starring in the local stage adaptations of Disney musicals Little Mermaid and Tarzan.

In the middle of her recording session, Disney also sprung another surprise on Rachelle. Her mom Russell was flown from Manila to see her.

“I couldn’t believe it!” said Rachelle of the touching reunion, parts of which are also captured in the music video. “It was a gift from Disney. I was so happy, I was floating!”

Reinterpreting A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes brought back a wave of childhood memories for Rachelle. She draws similarities between Cinderella’s story and her own journey as a singer, recording artist and now actress. “The song struck me even as a kid. When Disney told me that it was the song they wanted me to sing, all my childhood memories came rushing back because I’m also a dreamer. Cinderella, her character, is very kind even if the people around her are trying to pull her down; they’re so rude and mean to her, but she just keeps on being kind to everyone. In a way, I can relate to her story because I have a lot of dreams in life and then there are a lot of people telling me, ‘No, you can’t reach them.’ Lahat negative talaga. But I’m not allowing myself to be affected by the negative comments of other people, and I just keep on dreaming.”

And what is a Disney princess without a Prince Charming? Despite some rumors here and there of Rachelle dating a foreign guy in London, she said, “I’m not looking for a Prince Charming, I’m still waiting. It (love) will come! Just like Cinderella. I don’t want to search for (him).”

“I want someone who’s very God-fearing, family-oriented and respectful. I want someone who has the same faith, same vision (as I am). It would be better if he’s non-showbiz,” she added.

Meanwhile, Rachelle still appeared overwhelmed by the awards — Best Supporting Actress in the 2015 WhatsOnStage Awards and Best Featured Actress in a Musical in the 2014 Broadway World West End Awards — she received for her performance as Gigi Van Tranh in Miss Saigon (where she makes one of the show’s first big moments via the fierce number Movie In My Mind). “I’m very thankful. I didn’t expect (the awards). I was just following my dream.”

She has learned and changed so much since taking on the West End show. “I’m more independent now. Nung dumating si Mama, nagulat siya na marunong na ako magluto. Pinagluto ko lahat ng bisita ko sa London.

“As an artist, I’ve grown as well. Maybe that’s the purpose behind my being in London, to grow as an artist and as a person. A lot has changed in me. Discipline-wise, ibang klase din yung nagawa ng theater sa buhay ko.”

Miss Saigon has also taught her to embrace the actress in her. “We perform every night, if we make someone laugh, cry or if we are able to touch someone’s heart, it’s already a big deal for us. Before I didn’t consider myself as an actress, singer lang talaga. But now, I embrace it: I’m an actress!”

As much as she’s grateful for her Saigon experience, Rachelle is ready to move on. Her contract with the musical is ending in May. She’s extending her stay in London but “no longer with Saigon.”

“I’m moving on but trying out another musical,” said Rachelle, without giving specifics. “Let’s gonna see what happens. Nothing is final. But I’ll let you know as soon as possible once I hear (from them). So, it’s gonna be one more year (there) because all contracts for musicals are good for a year.”

Surely, it’s going to be another experience for her, and stepping out of your comfort zone and trying out new things are what she’d recommend to fellow artists. “Ako talaga, I’m not afraid to do other stuff. Before I went to London, I was scared to live alone, but I’m not scared of trying theater, because I’ve done it here in the Philippines. Just pursue it, all the things that you are passionate about, all that you love doing. Just dream and dream big. Dream the impossible.”

 

 

BEFORE I BUT I DISNEY MISS SAIGON PRINCE CHARMING RACHELLE WALT DISNEY SOUTHEAST ASIA WEST END
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