Garrett Bolden takes on Miss Saigon

Bot Glorioso - The Philippine Star
Garrett Bolden takes on Miss Saigon
Kapuso soul balladeer and The Clash alum Garrett Bolden has been tapped to portray as an American GI named John Thomas in Miss Saigon to be mounted in Guam. Garrett is now busy with rehearsals and training along with the rest of the cast members. The staging of the musical begins in the first week of September.

“Maninibago ako but I’m willing to learn everything for my role,” said The Clash alum Garrett Bolden, who was referring to his character John Thomas in the stage musical production, Miss Saigon, to be mounted in Guam.

The Kapuso soul balladeer first shared the good news on his Instagram account with a poster for the said play. Part of the caption read, “I will be joining the cast of Miss Saigon in Guam. It’s always been a dream of mine to venture into theatre and I know that joining Miss Saigon is one for the books. As a singer, I know that I will grow and learn more as I try new things in this career.”

A week before his Aug. 5 scheduled flight to Guam, Garrett had a virtual meeting with select members of the entertainment press, including The STAR, and narrated how he clinched the role. He, too, talked about his preparations, the pieces of advice he received from Aicelle Santos, who also had a stint in the previous staging of Miss Saigon as Gigi Van Trahn, and his future plans.

“Actually, my journey in auditioning for Miss Saigon is really unexpected. I didn’t plan on auditioning. It just so happened that a friend of mine told me there’s an audition they do — theater — which is something new to me. Although I did theater before, during high school, this one is on a professional level, so it’s going to be my first,” said he.

Thus, Garrett sent his audition video displaying his vocal talent via Bui Doi, the song written by Alain Boublil, Richard Maltby and Claude-Michel Schonberg. He admitted to not being familiar with the song.

“Hindi ko memorize ‘yung song that time. I was looking at the lyrics while singing and it was also my first time to hear the song which I submitted as my audition piece,” said Garrett of Bui Doi which, by the way, according to miss saigon.fandom.com, the title refers to the Vietnamese term bui doi which literally means “dust of life,” and in the musical, refers to the children of American soldiers and Vietnamese mothers abandoned at the end of the Vietnam War.

Garrett said Bui Doi hit him straight to the heart right after going through the lyrics “because I had this time when I was looking for my real dad. That’s why, I felt that I expressed the right emotion of the song and probably that’s one reason why they considered me for the next stage of auditions.”

It was no secret that Garrett was already 18 years old when he met his US Navy dad. He was supposed to see him in the US last 2020, but the global health pandemic got in the way. Then, unfortunately, his dad passed on.

Several weeks after sending his audition piece, he was included in the remaining rounds of the audition process. “Last month, they finally told me, ‘Yeah, you’re going to do the role. Can you come to Guam and perform with us?’”

Even before he flew to Guam, Garrett had begun prepping up for his role by reading the script and rehearsing the songs. He, too, is well aware that being part of a musical does not only require vocal talent, but also acting and dancing skills as well.

“Yes, I’ve been conditioning myself that this is not only about singing, but it also involves body movement —  acting and dancing — for the role. I must admit that this is new to me aside from the fact that my role is a heavy one, but I am willing to learn.”

Words of encouragement from family, friends, fans and his co-hosts in All-Out Sundays served as a motivation for Garrett, especially from Christian Bautista, Mark Bautista and Aicelle.

“I really look up to them, especially because of their experience in theater,” shared he. “When it comes to their performances, kahit sa All-Out Sundays, I can really see the difference, which is something that I also want to learn.”

Aicelle, Garrett added, readily gave her piece of advice. “Si Miss Aicelle po kasi, Studio 7 days pa namin, lagi na kong nagtatanong sa kanya like kung paano ba pumasok sa PETA, yung local theater natin dito sa Pilipinas. I would ask her if there are conditions or how to audition for a certain play because I’m really excited about experiencing theater.”

“When she found out about (my role in) Miss Saigon, she was really excited, and then I asked for her advice and she shared with me her experience as a cast (member) of Miss Saigon, what to expect, what to come prepared for, and what to learn prior to doing rehearsals. Mga bagay po na maliliit pero napakahalaga,” continued he.

Garrett will be rehearsing with the rest of the cast members in Guam the whole remaining days of August. He said that he has already met the other Filipino actors, who are also part of the play during their virtual meetings.

The staging of Miss Saigon will begin in the first week of September and it will run for a week.

Asked if he is willing to cut his hair short for the role, Garrett said he still has no idea what the production team is going to do with his hair. “I’ve removed my braids since the GMA Gala Night but for sure I will not cut my hair,” he enthused.

Looking back at the auditions, Garrett told The STAR that he was initially doubting himself “but I passed my (audition) piece anyway without putting my hopes up that I will get the role. Thankfully, I tried.”

Will Miss Saigon be the start for Garrett to look for more opportunities to be part of Broadway plays?

“If there are opportunities na p’wedeng pasukin at kakayanin po, I will try po. But for now, I will be focusing on Miss Saigon,” he concluded.


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