Busy–but happy for the blessing that is my lifeBy Lea Salonga | Philippine Daily Inquirer
I really shouldn’t complain about the busy-ness of my life at the moment. Last week, I wrote about the developmental lab of “Allegiance” here in New York City (we had our presentations on Monday and they both went incredibly well). What I didn’t tell you was that, at the same time, I had been rehearsing for my three-week engagement at the iconic Café Carlyle.
A lot of my friends have deemed me crazy for doing double duty on shows that each demands a great deal of my time and attention. There are songs to learn (in the case of “Allegiance,” relearn) and full scripts to study. However, they are each different enough, that it was possible to take the time.
The Allegiance Lab Project rehearsal period lasted all of three weeks, which is not nearly enough time when working on an original piece. So we all worked at a breakneck pace. We had quite a few brand-new ensemble numbers, some new solo pieces, reconfigurations of older songs, and one that actually made a return from the 2011 workshop. All in all, I’m very happy with the new music that made their debut for the lab, and I’m hoping they don’t go anywhere. That said, our creative team isn’t precious about anything on paper, whether it’s a song or a few lines of dialogue. If it doesn’t move the story along, it will be excised.
It was a scary thing to have not just one, but two presentations within an hour of each other. The turnaround was quick, far quicker than what I’m accustomed to when performing on a two-show day. Our first show was at 11 on Monday morning; the second one at 2:30 on Monday afternoon. I had just enough time to grab a cup of soup from the café beside our performance venue and chug it down before getting ready for show number two.
We were performing mostly for industry professionals in the hope that we find a theater, a brand new home on Broadway, for our pride and joy. I honestly don’t know when we’ll get any news about it, but I am confident that the lab will not be the last time those incredible Jay Kuo compositions will be heard by an audience. My husband Rob and our daughter Nicole attended the morning performance—all in all, I think they enjoyed it. Rob was able to point out what was different between the previous production in San Diego and the presentation for the lab, and he seemed to like what was new. I know that there will be even further tweaking to make this show the best that it can be.
But before then… on to Café Carlyle!
This is my third time at this wonderful venue. It’s always something I look forward to. It’s an intimate space that seats no more than 100 persons when totally full. That makes for a nice long evening; come early, and you and your companions can have a lovely dinner before the performance starts at 8:45 p.m. (on Saturdays, there’s an additional performance at 10:45 p.m.).
My repertoire will consist of songs both old and new to me… a few are songs I’ve previously performed in concert elsewhere in the world while a generous chunk of material is brand new to my ears. There is, as always, musical theater included… standards… as well as a few contemporary things that will be fun for me to sing for the first time. My director, Victor Lirio, was driven crazy by my hectic schedule, but we found the time to get this program completed and ready. My musical director Larry Yurman, normally my piano man for my shows, had to beg off due to his commitment to a new musical, “Far from Heaven.” Although he did create many of the arrangements for the new program, my pianist for my Carlyle run will be Jeff Harris.
As if my schedule wasn’t busy enough, I still have my responsibilities to “The Voice of the Philippines,” which begins airing in June.
I had a nice chat with many members of the creative team for the show as a gentle reminder that it was now time to put my battle round pairings together. Sorry, I will not divulge any carefully guarded secrets here, except to say that once I figured out the pairings, I got incredibly excited! I can’t wait for the real work to begin, and I sure hope that you all enjoy the shows.
Amidst the craziness of my days, I’m always struck by the blessing that is my life. Yes, I will have that second where I’ll feel incredibly overwhelmed. But it lasts for only a second. The rest of the time, I am thanking God for all of this. In 24 hours, I am a musical theater actress performing in a presentation of a musical I believe in; a cabaret artist working on the script for my run at one of the greatest cabaret rooms in New York; and a coach putting together my players for battle. And l have the most wonderful family to share this all with.
Truly, truly, I love my life.
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