From king to queen | Inquirer Entertainment

From king to queen

/ 12:01 AM May 13, 2014

THEATER vet Leo Tavarro Valdez (right) shares a poignant scene with child actor Guido Gatmaitan who plays his son in “Priscilla: Queen of the Desert.”
Anna Leah Sarabia

I was deeply touched when my dear friend, Leo Tavarro Valdez personally invited me to the opening night of his latest spectacular musical, “Priscilla: Queen of the Desert,” held at Resorts World Manila’s Newport Performing Arts Theater last Friday. (The show will run until July 4.)

Amid his frenzied schedule and the hustle-and-bustle of preparing for the show, he took time to call me up.


That’s the kind of friend he is. It’s hard to say if he’s greater as an artist or as a friend because he is extraordinary in being both.


I immensely enjoyed the musical, from start to finish.

The glitzy costumes and timeless disco hits make the show even more engaging.

(For tickets, visit or call 9088833.)

Leo’s portrayal of Tick/Mitzi is too fab for words. Red Concepcion, Jon Santos, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo and the rest of the cast were absolutely divine as well.

“Priscilla” is a celebration of one’s true colors. It is not mere frivolity, but a meaningful story with a vibrant, beating heart at its core.

To cap my wonderful “Priscilla” experience, I bonded with Leo at the after party. Upon seeing me, he hugged me so tight, which made me imbibe all his good vibes. It made me release my inner Priscilla as we danced the swing.


Kudos, Leo darling, for tirelessly sharing your many gifts on- and off-stage. With “Priscilla,” you’ve added another feather to your cap, with matching feather boa, that makes you all the more fierce!

Here’s my tête-à-tête with Leo:

What’s tougher to portray, The Engineer in “Miss Saigon” or Tick/Mitzi in “Priscilla”?

The Engineer is still tougher. Simply because he has two different facets to his character. He is dark and Machiavellian, but he can also be caring. Tick is the good guy-next-door who excels as a female impersonator, but he happens to be married and has a son. The thought of finally meeting his son after all these years started his anxious journey across the Australian outback with his two best friends.

What made you decide to portray such an offbeat role?


The musical and, after reading the script, the role itself.  Many of the songs are from my era and have been on the soundtrack of our lives. A gay character has always been in my bucket list just like the lead in “La Cage aux Folles” earlier on.

The life of a drag queen has always fascinated me because I believe that lip synching and all that is an art form in itself. I felt that I would be able to sink my teeth into the role, just like what I did in “Miss Saigon” and (as the King) in “The King and I.”

What message does “Priscilla” want to impart?

Acceptance and respect, more than anything else. That we all have a place in this world. Also, love, as the saying goes, will keep us together. Like in the case of Tick’s son Benjie, who accepted his drag artist-father wholeheartedly.

What are your do’s and don’t’s before a show?


For “Priscilla,” I have gone on an extremely strict, almost no-salt, no-sugar and only good-fat diet. I have to look trim onstage. As Tick/Mitzi, I have some important songs that require what I call “proper singing tone,” so I can’t take in cold drinks during the run. In “Miss Saigon,” the Engineer has a “character” voice … I could really afford to party right after.

Likewise doing the King in “The King and I” was not so tough because, there was hardly any singing for me in that play.

Among all the timeless hits in “Priscilla,” which one is closest to your heart?

“You Were Always on My Mind.” The song  holds a lot of meaning to me and touches me in a most personal way.

Against their will, Tick and his son were separated for a long time. I am afraid that I may not be as good a family member or a friend as I haven’t always been physically present. But deep in my heart, I love each and everyone of them. And I think of them always.


My sincerest thanks to BDO Pioneer’s efficient manager, Vince Loremas, and Marketing officer, Nep Brizuela, for their kind assistance and speedy action in resolving my ATM scam woes.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Glad that they lived up to their slogan (“We find ways”) by helping me get my money back.

TAGS: Entertainment, Leo Valdez, Musical, Priscilla: Queen of the Desert

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.