Rachelle Ann Go living her dream as cast of ‘Miss Saigon’
LONDON—This is really happening now. It’s not just a movie in her mind. Filipino pop star Rachelle Ann Go is living her dream as a cast member of “Miss Saigon” in London’s West End.
The thrill of the very first standing ovation she experienced onstage at the Prince Edward Theatre has not waned; it repeats every performance night. Audience members wait at the stage door for her autograph after. Some stop her on Old Compton Street before she enters the theater for rehearsals.
“I have learned many things about myself since coming here in March (when preparations commenced), not just as an artist but also as a person,” she told a handful of journalists from home on Wednesday night.
All the apprehension that had come with deciding to embark on this journey is gone now. “But my first few days here, in London, and especially at work, I was very scared,” she said. “I stood there in a corner, in my bikini, very quiet–and I was supposed to be the senior bar girl as Gigi!”
Her Filipino colleagues here, especially Jon Jon Briones (US-based stage actor), who plays The Engineer, helped her snap out of it. “I soon realized what I was capable of.”
What she is capable of, is a lot. Let alone the flawless singing, Rachelle Ann bumps and grinds and struts across the stage like a toughened woman for hire. She is groped and mashed and slapped, and she emerges defiant and, for the international audiences nine times a week, victorious.
Her signature piece as Gigi, “The Movie in My Mind,” is rendered, in her words, “not as a victim, but as someone who hates men and will get even.”
She had initial issues with the costumes– the alarming lack of body cover, more specifically. “I’m used to it now but it wasn’t easy. Even in Boracay, I would wear shorts over the bottom of two-piece swimsuits.”
As for the physical abuse Gigi gets from the GIs, she said, “Everyone is so professional, I have never felt taken advantage of.”
She’s happy to be part of the “Saigon” family.
“This environment can only make you better. There are 18 nationalities in the cast and the bonding is incredible. Sometimes Cameron (Mackintosh, producer) drops by. He is so bubbly, and he talks to everybody. During the after-party on opening night, he thanked me for accepting the role. That was very nice of him; I felt very welcome and safe.”
Her contract is for one year. There is talk of bringing the show to Broadway.
Meanwhile, Rachelle Ann, who turns 28 this year, is happy for this time on her own. “I cook, I commute — I could never, would never do these in Manila.”
She is due home for a break in July. In October her parents will visit her here and watch “Miss Saigon.” She hopes she has prepared them enough to sail above the “shocking” stuff. “And I’m going to cook for them,” said Rachelle Ann.
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