MiG back for another show

DIRECT LINE - Boy Abunda - The Philippine Star

Filipino-Australian rock sensation and musical theater star MiG Ayesa, who was last seen as Stacee Jaxx in the hit musical Rock Of Ages in Manila, returns to the Philippines to play the lead role of Robert Kincaid in the Tony Award-winning musical The Bridges Of Madison County which will run at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati from Nov. 20 to Dec. 6.

Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group (ATEG) presents the first international production of Jason Robert Brown and Marsha Norman’s acclaimed musical based on the best-selling novel by Robert James Waller. The best-selling novel captivated millions of readers with the story of a beautiful Italian woman who marries an American soldier to flee war-ravaged Italy. Her new life on an Iowa farm is uncomplicated until the day a National Geographic photographer comes up to her driveway looking for directions, forever changing the course of their lives. This passionate new musical captures the lyrical expanse of the heartland along with the deep yearning entangled in the eternal question, “What if…?” The Bridges Of Madison County is the winner of two Tony Awards.

Directed by Bobby Garcia, who recently directed the acclaimed Asian Tour of Saturday Night Fever, The Bridges Of Madison County also stars West End star Joanna Ampil as Francesca Johnson. Garcia says, “I am thrilled to be directing The Bridges Of Madison County. It is the stuff dreams are made of. The show has one of the finest, most romantic music theater scores I have ever come across with. I am equally thrilled that MiG Ayesa will be joining us once again in a very different role. He is the perfect Robert Kincaid, and I can’t wait to get in the rehearsal room and start creating the show with him.”

MiG’s musical theater resumé includes lead roles in the Australian, West End and Broadway productions of Buddy, We Will Rock You, Thriller Live!, Rent, Burn The Floor, Annie and Rock Of Ages. He is currently writing new music for an upcoming album.

We were able to catch up with MiG to ask him a few questions about his career and his new role.

How did you transition from rock music to musical theater?

“I’ve always been involved with both at the same time really. In high school, I had my own bands while at the same time doing the dramatic and musical productions at school. It seemed to be a marriage made in heaven when I got my first professional theater show, as Buddy was more like a rock concert than musical. From that point, most of the musical theater shows I did were rock-oriented, like Rent, Grease, We Will Rock You, Thriller Live and Rock Of Ages, of course. I will always be a recording artist at heart, but musical theater has been a steady and loyal companion and patron of my art.”

What is it about musical theater that you love? 

“I fell in love with musical theater early on, as our all-boys Catholic school had to team up with the local girls school…it was a great way to meet girls. But much more than that, I found how powerful great music could be used to convey the message of a great script. So much can be said with a soaring melody that words simply cannot say alone. When a score and book can combine to nail the intent of the piece, then that is when the magic happens. And although it can be a hard struggle at times, it beats working for a living!”

What have been your most memorable stage roles?

“Several roles hold different places in my heart and memory. Playing Galileo in We Will Rock You was definitely a turning point in my career. Having recently moved to London, to land the lead role in the biggest show on the West End was an affirmation of my blind faith in myself and my abilities, proving to myself, and to all that at last I was on the right path. Playing Stacee Jaxx in Rock Of Ages was again an affirmation that moving to New York City was the right thing to do, and finally playing the role I most wanted to play was a dream come true…especially since it gave me the chance to not only tour the US with it, but to also return to the Philippines to collaborate with the genius Filipino talent that surrounded and embraced me. But I have to throw playing Angel in Rent there too, as it is not often you get the chance to portray such a character as colorful and as spectacular as she.”

What do you enjoy most about coming back to Manila to do shows?

“I think it is the camaraderie that I feel among the cast and crew, that can be lacking at times in other big productions overseas. In Manila, it’s ‘all hands on deck.’ You feel a sense of ownership, that it has truly been a collaborative effort to get the show opened and running. I always get amazed by the high standards of the local talent and the dedication of the company to the production. The Manila productions may have a fraction of the budget of the overseas ones, but they have an abundance of heart and talent.”

You have a huge extended family in Manila. Do you spend a lot of time with them whenever you’re back? 

“I try to catch up with them as much as I can. They are like brothers and sisters to me and we have always been close. I miss them so much living so far away, but when we get together, it’s like time has stood still. It really does feel like coming home, and we get ourselves into all sorts of luscious trouble together!”

The score of Bridges won a Tony Award. What is the music like?

“It is the score that excites me most about Bridges. Jason Robert Brown is a genius, and I have loved his entire body of work. This one in particular touches me deeply, and I have fallen in love with it. It is very earthy and connects with the characters and the feel of the play. On so many levels, it digs deep and comes up shining as an instant classic. It is musical theater at its finest and most touching. I have been listening to the Broadway Soundtrack for months now, and I still get goosebumps on goosebumps.”

What excites you about doing The Bridges of Madison County?

“This is a far cry from the shows I have done before. For one thing, it’s quite a dramatic role, and I haven’t had the chance to play such a dramatic role for quite a while. Secondly, it gives me chance to really show another side of my singing voice, too. This is not a rock show. It’s legitimate theater and the music is so lush to sing, it’s like it just flows out of your soul. I have been a fan of Jo Ampil for decades it seems, since I saw her in Miss Saigon. Getting the chance to work opposite her will be an honor and a thrill. She is a goddess. I will also get a chance to work closely with Bobby Garcia. We have worked together before, but this is a different scenario. I know he demands a lot, and his faith in me is inspiring. I am sure together we will put on a very special show, as Bridges deserves nothing less.”

What are your dream roles?

“I feel like I have had my dream roles with Galileo and Stacee Jaxx, but I do look forward to one day look old enough to play Jean Valjean in Les Miserables (or at least be credible enough for it). I got the chance to understudy Tony in West Side Story with the Victorian State Opera in Australia, which was definitely a dream role. There are many shows out there I am yet to discover, but it is Bobby Garcia’s fault that I now am dreaming to play Robert Kincaid in Bridges Of Madison County. One day I would love to play MiG. That would be something I could certainly give a good shot.”

(Tickets are on sale now for The Bridges Of Madison County at Ticketworld 891-9999.)

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