The pandemic may have substantially pushed back people’s desire for theater because of the lockdowns. But it definitely did not cause the love for theater and theatrical performances to die.
In the Philippines for instance, theater professionals faced more worrisome environment from the pandemic but kept their determination to keep the nation’s artist (with souls) alive, wrote Alya Honasan in August 2021 after interviewing the first batch of officers in 2012 of the Philippine Theater Actors Guild (TAG PH), after its establishment in 2011.
TAG PH members have moved abroad because of the pandemic, moved to another career or bloom in the one they have here, recalled Jenny Jamora. But the organization is learning to deal with such upheavals, to adjust and remain a home for its members.
Before the pandemic, Philippine theater was flourishing, recalled TAG PH president Jenny Jamora despite a hiatus in 2015-2019. “Equity was a big thing for us back then as all these big musicals were coming into the country. When the OPM Development Bill of 2014, which was fighting for equity lost steam, so did we,” Alya’s story went.
Jamora said things began to stir again withn Rep. Toff de Venecia and his Arts and Culture and Creative Industries bloc in Congress. “We started sitting in again on congressional meetings on a Freelance Protection Act. The great Eddie Garcia lost his life on the set in 2019 and the very reason why TAG PH was born resurfaced– hazardous working conditions in the entertainment industry.”
With the pandemic gone substantially, the theater is now alive and vibrant. Sadly, though most of what are are shown in the country are imported from Broadway and other countries.
Take for instance the ongoing Hamilton play, which is being shown until November 26 in Solaire and last September, the Granada Flamenco ballet from Spain. Coming soon, is another Broadway musical, Miss. Saigon, though it features a lot of Filipino actors and actresses, is still a foreign-produced theatrical play.
But things are moving gradually locally and there is reason to be optimistic that the local theater groups will again be dominating the stages in the country, which hopefully will not just entertain the audiences but will remind them of cultures and historical developments that they must treasure in their hearts.
Miss Saigon is a tragedy of passion and beauty and nominated for an incredible number of Olivier, Tony and Drama Desk Awards, Miss Saigon is the second massively successful offering from the creators of Les Miserables, Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil.
Miss Saigon tells the story of Chris, an American male GI, who falls in love with Kim, a young Vietnamese orphan who works as a bar-girl and prostitute. When the city falls, the lovers are separated and Chris eventually returns to the U.S. Years later, Chris returns to Bangkok with his American wife, Ellen.
The 10 Filipinas who played Kim in Miss Saigon after Lea Salonga are: Joan Almedilla (Broadway); Joanna Ampil (London, Sydney, UK Tour); Maya Barredo-Duffy (London); Ima Castro (Manila, Asian Tour); Leila Florentino (Broadway); Carla Guevara-Laforteza (London); Miriam Marasigan (Sydney, UK Tour) and Roanne Monte (London).
The same company– GMG Productions– that brought the Hamilton and the Sound of Music – is bringing Miss Saigon int he country in March 2024.
Until March 2024
GMG Productions announced on Friday, October 13, along with GWB Entertainment, that it would be bringing the “brand-new international production” to Filipino audiences in March, also at the Solaire. Along with GWB Entertainment, the company is bringing in the country Miss Saigon, again at Solaire, in March 2024.
The production was helmed by acclaimed theater producer Cameron Mackintosh, who produced the first iteration of the musical for the West End in 1989. The 1989 musical is also where stage actress Lea Salonga rose to fame, Rappler reported earlier. The West End revival of Miss Saigon then ran from 2014 to 2016, witnessing the prowess of Filipino performers Rachelle Ann Go, Eva Noblezada, and Tanya Manalang.
Tickets for the March run will go on sale on November 6 through TicketWorld, while the pre-sale will take place from October 23 to November 3. Pre-sale access will be granted through partners such as UnionBank, as well as through GMG Productions’ waitlist. Ticket prices have yet to be announced.
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