Tale of 2 time zonesBy Lea Salonga
Philippine Daily Inquirer
TOKYO—And just like that, my time in New York has ended and my stay in Tokyo begins. It seems that I hit the ground running with every trip and end it with a quick turnaround, off to another adventure with barely an inhaled breath. Rest assured, though, that my final week in the Big Apple was restorative and recuperative, as well as—dare I say it?—life-changing, magical and spectacular.
After our final rehearsal for “4Stars: One World of Broadway Musicals” ended, I heaved a huge sigh of relief. It meant that my days of pulling double duty (rehearsals during the day, performances at Café Carlyle at night) were now over and I could actually have my days to myself to do errands, catch a matinee and grab a meal or two with friends. And yes, I got all of them done!
One undoubtedly spectacular event was watching the Broadway revival of the Stephen Schwartz musical “Pippin.” I’m sure you’re familiar with the songs from this show: “Magic to Do,” “Corner of the Sky,” “Love Song,” “With You” …
This new revival playing at the Music Box Theater in New York—starring Matthew James Thomas, Patina Miller (now a newly minted Tony Award winner for best lead actress in a musical), Terrence Mann, Charlotte d’Amboise, Rachel Bay Jones and Andrea Martin (whose hilarious and breathtaking Berthe won her a Tony Award last Sunday for best featured actress in a musical)—was a sight for sore eyes! Actor-singer-dancers, acrobats, aerialists … I’m talking physical artists of the highest caliber. I went to watch with one of my best girl friends, Town and Country Philippines’ editor in chief Yvette Fernandez, as we were due for a date day. And what a date it turned out to be!
Large shoes to fill
Patina probably had the largest shoes to fill, since the original production’s Leading Player was none other than the amazing Ben Vereen. (Search YouTube for clips of his performance and you’ll see what I mean.)
However, any doubts would’ve been misplaced, as Patina was an alluring and seductive combination of ringmaster, narrator and circus performer … singing and dancing one minute, then twisting herself like a pretzel on a high trapeze the next.
Despite the presence of so much external stimuli in the beautiful (and very flexible) bodies that populated the stage, my eyes stayed trained on her, wherever she was on stage. Hers was a tour-de-force performance that was more than worth the price of admission. I will undoubtedly return for another dose. This will become my Broadway obsession of the season.
Andrea Martin as Berthe was such a surprise. Her rendition of “No Time at All” merited her a huge ovation as well as a second bow, now built into the show because of how audiences respond to her. She was not exempt from the circus pageantry. Flinging off her robe and shawl, she performed a flowing, sexy, beautiful aerial act on a trapeze along with acrobat Yannick Thomas.
Directed by Diane Paulus and choreographed by Chet Walker, “Pippin” was an extraordinary show full of spectacle, magic and sparkle.
After “Pippin,” I met up with The Filipino Channel’s (TFC’s) Don Tagala to shoot a few things in Times Square for “The Voice of the Philippines.” Lo and behold, we bumped into Aga Muhlach, who was shooting for TV5’s “Pinoy Explorer.” I invited him to watch my Carlyle show and, thankfully, he said yes. He arrived all dressed up, looking very handsome in a black suit.
The remaining days were spent on far more simple things: A dentist appointment (Dr. Sonny Torres-Oliva, let me say, “You rock!”), picking up an altered tux, getting a last load of laundry done, trying to stay dry despite the heavy rains that fell upon the city, having my dance shoes’ elastics repaired and the soles reinforced, taking care of my visa for Japan, and catching up on my favorite TV shows (and being destroyed by “Game of Thrones” in the process).
I also got my suitcases packed and ready for the Sunday afternoon flight to Tokyo. (The JAL flight was amazing! There was Wi-Fi on board, which meant I could get Tony Awards news in-flight … Congratulations to all the winners!)
Now comes the process of getting over jet lag in time for our opening night tomorrow. This means that I foresee lots of cups of black coffee in my immediate future.
Getting over jet lag is something I’m used to doing. My schedule here won’t be too crazy, which will afford all of us in the cast plenty of time to be tourists.
To New York, thank you for such a wonderful welcome. Rest assured, I will be back for another adventure. And to Tokyo, it’s nice to finally meet you up close.
P.S. Congratulations to Filipino Jhett Tolentino, one of the producers of the Tony best play winner, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.”
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