Gerald makes many firsts in Sweeney Todd

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Gerald makes many firsts in Sweeney Todd
Gerald Santos says that it’s his first time to work with Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group, to be directed by Bobby Garcia and to share the stage with Lea Salonga. ­
Photos by Ver Paulino

MANILA, Philippines — Gerald Santos is looking forward to take on many firsts in the upcoming musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. He noted that it’s his first time to work with Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group, to be directed by Bobby Garcia and to share the stage with Lea Salonga.

Sweeney Todd is also his first musical in Manila after being cast as Thuy in the two-year-long UK/Ireland tour production of Miss Saigon.

“It’s my first time working with Atlantis, that’s what I’m excited also. It’s going to be my first musical after Miss Saigon here in Manila. It’s been a while since I’ve had a musical here in Manila. My last one was in 2016, the San Pedro Calungsod The Musical. So, it’s exciting! I have so many firsts — working with direk Bobby and with Ms. Lea — in this project. I’m itching to start the rehearsals,” the 28-year-old singer said.

Lea herself excitedly welcomed Gerald to the production in a Facebook post: “So thrilled to announce that the very talented Gerald Santos will be playing Anthony in Atlantis Theatrical’s Sweeney Todd!!! Cannot wait to work with him and listen to him slay that score!!! Welcome, friend!!!”

In Sweeney Todd — where Lea, the original Miss Saigon leads the cast with The Dawn frontman Jett Pangan — Gerald plays the role of Anthony Hope, a young sailor who falls in love with Johanna, the daughter of Sweeney Todd.

“I’m very excited to play Anthony Hope because it’s gonna be different with Thuy. After playing Thuy for two years, it can be exhausting. So, with this one, it’s a breath of fresh air for me. Anthony is just a young boy who fell in love with Joanna. He’s just being himself unlike with Thuy, well, he’s young as well, he’s just about the same age with Anthony, but he was forced to be more mature than his age because of the situation, the American-Vietnam war that time. This one, I can be more my age.”

Gerald described the musical as epic production. 

“The music, the score is just so big. It’s awesome, at the same time, it’s dark. Even just by listening to the music, you can feel the darkness of the musical. But then, I love the story of this show, I’m sure the Filipino audience will be amazed and entertained by it, and just for the fact, that it’s going to be (headlined by) Lea Salonga and Jett Pangan. It’s a casting coup!”

Asked how he nabbed the role, Gerald recalled, “I auditioned for the role. I was still in Germany when direk Bobby asked me for a self-tape (doing the song of Anthony, titled Johanna).  He was asking me if I wanted to audition, so I said, sure. Then, when I came home, they staged an audition just for me.” 

As Anthony, he will do a solo number, several duets and quartets. “The music is very challenging because ang daming mga counterpoints,” he said, referring to the two or more melodies to be performed simultaneously and musically. “Like not just two, but quartet ang counterpoints. So, there are four of us simultaneously singing together, so it’s gonna be very challenging.”

Gerald said that his working experience in the UK has been so priceless and unforgettable that he would grab any opportunity to return there to be part of a production. He already has UK-based manager. He’s crossing fingers for a big project to push through, but remains tightlipped so as not to preempt anything. “I miss working there so much. I miss everything, the lifestyle, the weather, walking around the city, the routine, it’s like an office day job, na every day may ginagawa kayo, but even then, I’m very thankful that after Miss Saigon, I’m busy, pagbalik ko dito, so hindi ako masyado naninibago. I miss everything (there) but I’m enjoying my stay here, being with my loved ones and kababayan.”

He recalled how his British and other foreign colleagues had a lot of respect for the Filipino artist. “We’re such an authority on Miss Saigon, tayong mga Pinoy, na they don’t question, they don’t have anything to say about us because they know and because the original Kim was Ms. Lea, so, yung reputation and credibility na nabigay natin sa musical and how we worked hard, wala na silang masabi.”

Gerald said he never thought he would find a home, a comfort zone and a niche in musicals. “Before Miss Saigon, I was about to quit. I was planning to just study. I would still sing, with all the social media platforms where you can showcase your talent like YouTube. That was my plan. Maybe because God heard my call to, you know, give us the break that we’ve been wanting. I didn’t expect it. I just tried to audition for Miss Saigon… and the rest is history.”

Apart from Sweeney Todd, Gerald is also set to record a single for Star Music and have a concert on Sept. 1 where he will “return to my roots. This time, I will sing ballads. It’s been the request of my supporters who have been there for me since I started in showbiz (as a winner of a reality singing search). I have fallen in love with theater, but I won’t forget my roots. Dun ako nakilala. And it feeds my soul, singing ballads.”

(Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street runs from Oct. 11 to 27 at The Theatre at Solaire. The musical is part of Atlantis Theatrical’s 20th-anniversary celebration. For tickets, call TicketWorld at 891-9999.)

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