article taken from Alvin Trono’s multiply blog: atstage2001.multiply.com (thanks Alvin!)
1. It’s the first time West End superstar Joanna Ampil performs in a musical before a Pinoy audience. Joanna is said to be a favorite of Andrew Lloyd Webber, who handpicked her to play Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar. In London, where she’s been based for 16 years, Joanna has played Fantine in Les Miserables and Mimi in Rent. Not everyone can afford to fly to London to see this homegrown talent, so don’t miss this chance to see her at home. (Let’s hope this won’t be her last in Pinas.)
2. West Side Story stars a world-class cast of Pinoys who’ve made us proud. Aside from Joanna Ampil, Stages’ production of this Stephen Sondheim musical also stars another import: Fil-Australiana Rowena Vilar, who has played Gigi and Kim in the Australian run ofMiss Saigon. She joins West Side Story with high recommendations from another Pinoy, Leo Valdez, who played the Engineer in the same production.
3. West Side Story is one of the best and much-loved musicals of all time. Written by Arthur Laurents, with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Sondheim, it features memorable songs such as “Somewhere,” “Tonight,” “One Hand One Heart,” “America,” and “Something’s Coming.” Admit it, you’ve been singing all these since you were a child.
4. The local production consists of actors who sing, dance, and act well. Executive producer Audie Gemora calls them “a triple threat.” Very few actors are that well rounded.
5. This production has a powerhouse artistic team. Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, whom Audie calls the “queen of Philippine theater” directs West Side Story. Gerard Salonga is its musical director, with scenographer Mio Infante, lighting director John Batalla, costume designer Eric Pineda, sound designer Bobbit Jacinto, and jazz choreographer James Laforteza staying true to Jerome Robbins’ original choreography in the Broadway version of West Side Story.
6. Despite its original 1950s setting, West Side Story tells of issues relevant to our time. Star-crossed lovers. Racism. Violence. Gangs. Sounds familiar?
7. It’s Christian Bautista’s first lead role, and he makes such a great leading man. If you thought he sang well, then West Side Story is an opportunity for him to prove he’s got more than a voice going for him. [Trivia: Christian turned down an offer to sing at the Beijing Olympics because he was doing West Side Story.]
8. Miracles happening every day. Ballet dancers learning how to sing. Actors getting better in jazz. “It’s a learning process for all of us,” says Menchu, who cast dancers from Ballet Philippines and happily reports that they now sing better.
9. Support our local theater, with its bunch of ultra talented actors. If you bought expensive Cinderella tickets, you can afford West Side Story‘s affordable tickets, priced between P500 and P1,200.
Photography by Jojit Lorenzo with creative direction by Jojit Lorenzo & Alvin Trono, costumes by Eric Pineda and make-up by Mac.
1,200 (Orchestra and Loge Center)
1,000 (Orchestra and Loge Side)
700 (Balcony Center)
500 (Balcony Side)
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