Back in the Big Apple

By: - Columnist
/ 12:25 AM March 13, 2015
JON JON Briones as The Engineer in “Miss Saigon,” Olivier nominee from the Philippines

JON JON Briones as The Engineer in “Miss Saigon,” Olivier nominee from the Philippines

NEW YORK—And just like that, I’m back in the Big Apple. On the day I arrived, a massive snowstorm had just been through the city, dumping more snow than anyone knew what to do with.

It was extremely cold (-5 degrees Celsius). Because of the resulting flight delays and cancellations, the airport gate wasn’t ready for us and we ended up stuck on the runway for a couple of extra hours. No biggie; at least there wasn’t traffic on the way into the city.


I’m here for a concert tomorrow at Town Hall (123 West 43rd Street) titled “Kaleidoscope.”

My director, Victor Lirio, thought it would be cool to just do all kinds of material, old and new, from the pop, standards and musical theater worlds.

With each song, something different in my voice is highlighted—like a kaleidoscope. Doing shows like this is always fun; I can’t wait for the weekend to finally arrive.

We started rehearsals Friday last week, plunking through every bit of material, save for the stuff I have previously performed.

We’ve rehearsed almost every day. We, meaning my band, led by musical director Larry Yurman, and backup vocalists Liz Casasola, Loresa Lanceta, Chris-Ian Sanchez and Enrico Rodriguez.

The material is truly varied: plenty of musical theater by Stephen Sondheim and Jason Robert Brown… Fleetwood Mac, Bonnie Raitt, Bruno Mars… Birdy, Michael Jackson and Kuh Ledesma, among others.

There are so many new arrangements by Larry, Greg Brown and Charlie Rosen, that I feel I’m going to burst! Costumes are by Rajo Laurel.

As I write, I’m dealing with monumental jet lag, which means I sleep at odd hours and wake up not feeling totally rested. I will have to endure this for a spell, but it’s good knowing there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Every day, I run a couple of the songs to make sure the lyrics staple themselves to my memory. So far it seems to be working.


I can’t wait to get this show going! Oh, it’s so nice to be back.


Congratulations to my friend and fellow “Saigonista” Jon Jon Briones for his Olivier Award nomination (best actor in a musical)! The internet has been a-buzz. It has been 25 years since a Filipino actor was last nominated and awarded. (That would be the author, for the role of Kim in “Miss Saigon”–Ed.) Will Jon Jon do it, too? Let’s all stay tuned!

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TAGS: ” “Kaleidoscope, Chris-Ian Sanchez, Enrico Rodriguez, Jon Jon Briones, Larry Yurman, Liz Casasola, Loresa Lanceta, Miss Saigon, New York, Theater, Victor Lirio
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