Bring on the young ones!
NEW YORK—Oh, how exciting that a new generation of musical-theater performers is preparing to show audiences what they’re made of! Right now, there is so much promise, bright eyes and anticipation, besides obvious talent.
Allow me to introduce you to a few young ladies who will be the ones to watch in the years to come.
It’s now absolutely official that Telesa Marie de Torres, better known as Esang, has been cast as Little Cosette in the current Manila production of the hit musical “Les Misérables.” Her casting in the show is quite the whirlwind story that is the stuff of fairy tales.
At the opening night party of “Les Miz” at Diamond Hotel, my mother Ligaya and I were speaking with Cameron Mackintosh (my mother hardly ever attends these events anymore, which makes this story all the more interesting).
I then wandered away to engage with other party guests while she stayed. “Are you looking for a little girl? I know one, she’s 9 years old and very talented.” Her words started the ball rolling very, very fast.
Some days later, we had Esang come to my mom’s home for a short coaching session with me for her audition. But truly, for someone who’s already that good, there wasn’t anything I needed to do, save for giving little reminders on what she needed to remember: that this was a theater audition, where the acting needs to precede the singing, and that her imagination would be a big asset for her.
The following day, she got to sing for “Les Miz” director Laurence Connor, music supervisor Stephen Brooker, “Miss Saigon” cochoreographer Geoffrey Garratt, “Miss Saigon” associate choreographer Ben Osborne, casting director Paul Wooller, and “Les Miz” and “Miss Saigon” composer himself Claude-Michel Schönberg.
She sang “Castle on a Cloud,” and immediately got very positive feedback for what she displayed in the room.
“Perfect pitch,” one of them said. Another made her promise that she would still sing that well 10 years later. She then took photos with everyone in the room, and made her way out.
Once she left, she whispered to Carla Guevara-Laforteza, who was helping out for the “Miss Saigon” auditions, “Ate, na-nosebleed ako.”
Well, little Esang, along with Rachelle Ann Go, you are a Filipino performer who at your young age is showing the world exactly how amazing you are.
Though you didn’t win “The Voice Kids,” you’re proving that you’re meant for other things that you probably never thought would ever happen. You are truly gifted. And now, you have the opportunity to shine.
Break a leg!
Esang de Torres will begin performances as Little Cosette in the Manila production of “Les Misérables” at Solaire’s Theatre on April 8. For tickets, visit Ticketworld at www.ticketworld.com.ph, or call 891-9999.
Joining me at the end of the year in Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group’s production of “Fun Home” are two faces that are not yet familiar to local theatergoers, but given time and opportunity, it won’t be long until their names are bywords on audience’s lips.
Meet Katie Bradshaw and Andee Achacoso who will play Little Alison in the Manila production of this musical, with music by Jeanine Tesori, and book and lyrics by Lisa Kron, based on the graphic novel of the same name by Alison Bechdel.
“Fun Home” won the 2015 Tony Award for best musical, which was hailed by Ben Brantley of The New York Times as “a rare beauty, extraordinary and heart-gripping.”
Katie is 10 years old (almost 11) and has appeared in “The Sound of Music” and “Shrek.” She says, “I love to be able to tell many different stories onstage. And I have made so many new friends through theater.”
She’s proud to be cast in “Fun Home,” and looks forward to sharing this musical’s message. “The show reminds us that everyone has a story to tell and it is OK to be gay.”
Andee is 11 years old and has appeared in “Scrooge” and “Pinocchio.” “I love performing, and I love learning new things from the people I meet in the theater. I love it when the stage becomes so alive and real and once you step on it, you become the character. It’s so magical to me.”
Like Katie, she also believes that “Fun Home” carries a powerful message. The musical reminds us that it is OK to be different from others. Don’t let other people turn you into someone you don’t want to be. Just be yourself.”
I’m looking forward to working with these two young ladies, full of promise and ready to sink their teeth into this beautiful and emotional piece of theater. Theater is indeed a magical place, able to inform and transform.
Get ready for the ride of your life, kids! Let’s have fun!
“Fun Home” will run at Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza from Nov. 11 to 27. For more information, follow ATEGasia on Facebook or call 650-5144.
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