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Thursday, June 26, 2008

West Side Story: with Karylle and London West End’s Joanna Ampil

WEST Side Story, Stages’ major musical offering in 2008, is all set to go on stage with an assembly of a strong cast headlined by Christian Bautista, Karylle and London West End’s Joanna Ampil; a live orchestra with Gerard Salonga as musical director; and a first-rate artistic team with Audie Gemora as executive producer and Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo as director.

After rigid auditions that took two months, whose mix of aspirants emerged not only from the Philippines but also from other countries like Singapore, Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, STAGES has finally completed its cast of singers and dancers.

Christian is given the role of Tony. He is tall, handsome, and has the makings of a perfect romantic leading man.

Karylle, meanwhile, could match Natalie Wood’s film version of Maria. She is young and beautiful. She sings her songs with utmost conviction.

The audience will get the rare chance to watch Joanna in her first musical theater assignment in Manila after 16 years of playing lead roles in London.

Joanna has agreed to share the role of Maria with Karylle because she has long wanted to perform for her kababayans who cannot easily afford to go to London to watch her in a musical.

Local audiences have to see why Joanna is a favorite of British producer Cameron Mackintosh. Joanna, at one time, was even handpicked by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber to play Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar.

Gian Magdangal as Riff returns to the theater after a three-year hiatus.

Another world-class import, Filipino Australian Rowena Vilar, who played Kim, Gigi and Ellen in the recent Australian tour of Miss Saigon, joins the cast of West Side Story.

Highly recommended by Leo Valdez, who played The Engineer in Miss Saigon, Rowena will be flying in to share the role of the feisty Anita with local theater and pop artist Pam G.

Since West Side Story is primarily a dance musical, the artistic team had to call professional dance groups and handpick very strong dancers for the supporting cast.

Jazz choreographer James Laforteza is tasked to reconstruct Jerome Robbins’ original choreography in the Broadway production.

It is interesting to note that musical director Gerard Salonga has been longing to do West Side Story. Sister Lea’s husband, Rob Chien, who now manages the FILharmoniKA orchestra under Ambient Media, went the extra mile to make it possible for them to play for the production.

“We initially opened up 16 shows to fund-raising groups and block buyers. We ended up opening four more shows to accommodate the demand coming from these groups, which is interestingly a pretty good mix of both Filipino and foreign investors, including a Swiss block buyer,” said Gemora.

This Manila re-staging will precede a Broadway revival in 2009.


West Side Story is one of the best musicals of all time with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. It has many show-stopping numbers and immortal songs, like Somewhere, Tonight, One Hand One Heart, America and Something’s Coming.

Stages’ production of West Side Story is its third major musical production after Footloose in 2005 and High School Musical On Stage in 2007.

It will run from September to October at the Meralco Theater. Tickets are available at Ticketworld.

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1 Comments:

OpenID manilatheater said...

Dear Friends,

We are selling tickets to the September 12 (Friday) show of West Side Story here in Manila. It will be held at the Meralco Theater.

Ticket prices are at 1200, 1000, 700 and 500 pesos.

For ticket reservations and inquiries, please email (song1@jnjph.jnj.com) or text +63917-8735412.

Free deliveries of tickets can be arranged in certain areas within Metro Manila.

Reserve now to get good seats!

Free deliveries of tickets can be arranged in certain areas in Metro Manila.

You may also log on to http://www.manilatheater.wordpress.com for more information about the show.

Thanks and see you there!

8:47 PM  

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