This is 52... so far | Inquirer Entertainment

This is 52… so far

By: - Columnist
/ 12:10 AM March 02, 2023
Conrad Ricamora (left) and Jose Llana

Conrad Ricamora (left) and Jose Llana —PHOTOS BY BILLY BUSTAMANTE

NEW YORK—So the last few weeks since my last Backstory article have been quite eventful. To tell you the truth, I’m very excited about all of the things going on.

First came the announcement that I would be embarking upon a limited run in the West End in a show titled “Old Friends” to be produced by Cameron Mackintosh. Bernadette Peters will also star in it, and this will be her first time to do an actual West End run!


It will be directed by Matthew Bourne alongside Julia McKenzie, choreographed by Stephen Mear and conducted by Alfonso Casado Trigo, with musical supervision by Stephen Brooker and musical arrangements by Stephen Metcalfe.

And no, I won’t be the only Filipino in the show; Christine Allado (who I first saw in Atlantis Productions’ “Hairspray” and last saw in “Here Lies Love” at the Royal National Theatre in London) will be performing in “Old Friends” as well.


Speaking of “Here Lies Love,” it was also recently announced that I will be joining the Broadway company of “Here Lies Love” for a limited guest engagement from July 11 to Aug. 13 playing the role of Aurora Aquino.

The musical will begin performances on June 17, and will officially open at the Broadway Theatre on July 20. Jose Llana and Conrad Ricamora will be playing Ferdinand Marcos and Ninoy Aquino, respectively, reprising the roles they originally played at The Public Theater 10 years ago. More casting announcements are forthcoming.

Poster of Sondheim show

Poster of Sondheim show

“Here Lies Love” has a score by Grammy, Tony and Oscar winner David Byrne and Grammy winner Fatboy Slim (with concert and lyrics by Byrne and music by both). It will have original director Alex Timbers and original choreographer Annie-B Parson leading the creative team, which also includes music director J. Oconer Navarro, associate director Billy Bustamante and associate choreographer Renée Albulario.

Additional music will be contributed by Tom Gandey and J Pardo. Tony winner Clint Ramos, one of the show’s lead producers, will also be creating the costumes. And finally, I have joined the show’s producing team, along with good friends Bobby Garcia (also serving as casting consultant for the Philippines) and Girlie Rodis, among many others.

So yeah, I’m officially a Broadway producer! Woo-hoo!

Some nights ago, I was chatting online with a friend about everything and nothing … about work and family, as well as about life and where it was going. After we talked about Bernadette’s official West End debut coming this fall, the takeaway was this: It is never too late, and one is never too old, to do something for the first time.

If Ms. Peters, after a long and storied career, can look forward to her West End debut, then that only means there is still so much left in my own life to look forward to, too. Getting older is not an excuse to stop.


I mean, a Broadway show and a West End run in the same year? To quote a line from “Miss Saigon,” I’ve not done this before! There really is a first time for everything. Happy Birthday to me, indeed!

I’ve always been a person who gets giddy whenever my birthday comes around, regardless of what’s going on in life or at work. For this last one, I spent it in a more low-key and subdued fashion, opting for quiet moments alone or with smaller pockets of people who are special to me.

Perhaps this is just part and parcel of getting older, or maybe we can blame the pandemic for turning me into more of an introvert than I already was, but with each tiny gathering, whether it was over a heated game of Taboo, an introduction to a restaurant I’ve never been to, oohing and ahhing while eating something spectacular, or catching up with an old friend with a long walk and a meal, I felt more and more grateful for the people in my life, and for the life I get to live.

Thus I embark on my 53rd year on this good earth … and so far, it’s all looking really, really good.

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